The University of Vermont is moving forward with its Examining White Identity Retreat for 2019, an event “specifically for white students” to get woke about “identity, diversity, and culture.”
According to the program’s website, the annual retreat schools “students who self-identify as white” on how to “conceptualize and articulate whiteness from a personal and systemic lens; recognize and understand white privilege from an individual experience; and the impact of white privilege on the UVM community and beyond.”
The “non-credit bearing retreat is designed to engage white students who want to become more effective allies in confronting racism and supporting students of color at UVM,” spokesman Enrique Corredera wrote in an email to Campus Reform.
“These students look for an educational opportunity for themselves to learn about and understand issues surrounding white identity and white privilege, their historical roots, and their current dynamics and impact.”
The college news site questioned whether the event for “specifically for white students” violates UVM’s equal opportunity policy prohibiting “discrimination on the basis of unlawful criteria such as race … in admitting students to its programs … or other institutionally administered programs or activities made available to students at the university.”
Neither UVM’s Equal Opportunity Office nor Director of Affirmative Action responded to the site’s inquiry. Corredera, meanwhile, alleged the “Retreat for Undergraduate Students Who Self-Identify as White” is for students of color, too.
“While the focus of this retreat is on the exploration of white identity and white privilege, non-white students are permitted to attend,” Corredera wrote.
The event is “free” for students, and even includes meals, though it’s ultimately funded by taxpayers through donations from various UVM departments, according to Campus Reform.
The two-day retreat explores the questions: “What does it mean to be white? How does whiteness impact you?”
Students also concentrate on how they can “interrupt racism” to “make UVM a more inclusive community.”
Students who attended past retreats contend it’s all about “safe space” to learn about white privilege and “systems of oppression” with other white people.
“I enjoyed the Examining White Privilege retreat because it provided a safe space to learn about yourself and others and how we experience and understand privilege and systems of oppression,” Cora, a student from the Class of 2015, said in a testimonial. “The activities were engaging and challenged me as a participant to be open-minded and see different perspectives.”
“The Examining White Privilege retreat helped me to open up to difficult conversations about race in an environment where I felt comfortable asking questions and learning. The most valuable part of this affinity space, as with any, is being surrounded with people who share something in common with you and are willing to talk about what that identity means and how it shows up in our lives,” according to Nick, class of 2017.
UVM is among numerous public schools and colleges that continue to fixate on white privilege theory, or the notion that the education system is hopelessly stacked against minorities.
At Minnesota State University Moorhead, training for student leaders now includes two 90-minute programs to help “recognize areas where they have privilege,” The College Fix reports.
The sessions are designed for members of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, office assistants, resident advisers, student orientation counselors and other student leaders to recognize racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia “and other forms of prejudice and discrimination,” according to a school notice.
The first session – “Social Justice 101” – “introduces students to the core concepts of critical social justice, including identity, privilege and oppression, intersectionality and macroaggressions. The second half provides tools and scenarios to help students learn to become better listeners and navigate difficult dialogues in day-to-day interactions.”
The second – “You. Me. We.” – delves into the “often-unintentional ugliness of prejudice” through a monologue, followed by a “lively discussion of diversity.”
“During talk-backs, students can confront the characters and voice their own opinions on issues of race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender,” the description reads.
The program includes explicit and vulgar language and “real life situations” that may prompt “discomfort, anxiety, or an emotional response.” Thankfully, the school will have counselors on hand at the August training to offer emotional support.