University cancels event for Whites to ‘process’ their ‘complicity in unjust systems’

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Elon University in North Carolina has canceled an event for White people to process their complicity in injustice, because the meeting would exclude other races, the school told Fox News.

Young America’s Foundation Tuesday revealed the “White caucus” event, publishing an email that specified the event was intended for white and “White-identifying” individuals to speak openly and avoid “retraumatiz[ing] people of color.”

“White caucuses give white people a space to learn about and process their awareness of and complicity in unjust systems without harming their friends of color,” reads the email, which was addressed to School of Education students.

Vice President of University Communications Daniel Anderson told Fox News that the event was organized by a group of students in the School of Education and that it had learned of the event on Tuesday. But according to YAF, the email was sent to all School of Education students by Jennifer Strange, Elon’s coordinator of graduate programs in the school.

“Elon University today learned of a program being organized by a group of students in the School of Education who wanted to hold candid, confidential discussions about racism without victimizing those of other races,” said Anderson in a statement Tuesday.

“Elon’s policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, creed, sex, national or ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran’s status. Because this student-led program would have excluded non-white individuals, it would be at odds with university policies and will not be held. Elon is reviewing the planning for this event to ensure that future programs are planned in compliance with university policies, are inclusive and align with the university’s mission.”

Anderson told Fox News that Strange managed the department’s “Constant Contact” account, which can be used to send messages to students. “This email was sent from students to other students and Jennifer assisted in that process,” he said in an email.

The incident was just the latest to stir controversy over racialized events that took place in academia and government entities. In September, the University of Michigan-Dearborn similarly advertised an event that prompted accusations of segregation. Like the group at Elon, the University of Michigan similarly expressed concern about White people harming non-White people. It also clarified that the events weren’t intended to exclude certain races.

The email published by YAF described “white caucusing” as “one part of a lifelong and multifaceted commitment to antiracism for white-identifying people who are passionate about racial justice and who want to begin taking concrete and direct action.” 

Students were also directed to sign an agreement that they wouldn’t share what participants said at the meetings.

“Racially segregating conversations meant to improve race relations and build community will only create more division,” YAF’s Kara Zupkus said on the conservative group’s website.

“Elon is essentially putting a gag order on students who partake in white caucusing by forcing them to sign a confidentiality agreement. What exactly are they hiding and what are these students afraid of the wider public knowing about?”

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