University of Maryland Creates a “Safe Space” for White Students

The University of Maryland came under fire after a group at the university’s Counseling Center posted a flyer promoting a “safe space” for White students. The flyer stated that the group, called White Awake, was a place for “White students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings” on race. It also posed the question “Do you feel uncomfortable or confused before, during or after interactions with racial and ethnic minorities?”

After a lot of backlash from the student body, the university discontinued the use of the flyer and released a statement saying they were open to changing the group’s name. The statement read that the “purpose of the group is to promote anti-racism and become a better ally.”

White Awake is now listed as the Anti-Racism and Ally Building Group on the university’s counseling center website.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Nadia Richards says:

    This is surprising and not surprising. An institution of Higher Education, creates a group for those who have benefited from white privilege and continue to benefit based on a social construct rooted in colonization and eurocentricity.

    If this was meant to be an attempt to create a space for anti-racism and becoming an ally, why were students of colour not one of their target audiences?

    This was an example of white privilege, where individuals felt they had the right to create an exclusive group, to support student who are incapable of embracing difference and recognizing the plight of others.

  2. El Darden says:

    Well, will wonders never cease! Interesting that someone at the university felt that white students were being so discomfited by interacting with students of color that they (whites) needed their own space into which to retreat when unable to handle any more such interaction. Never mind that the entire university — not to mention the entire nation — is THEIR “safe space.”

  3. M. Rick Tuerner says:

    It should not be allowed. Another form of segregation and white racism

  4. EsJay says:

    This just blows my mind. That this can even happen. And then the terror of knowing these kids are the children of my generation. smh
    The Bay Area wasn’t ever like that, as far as my experience growing up in Albany, k-12.
    I really don’t understand where these kids are being indoctrinated to this extent today.

  5. Jeff Hitchcock says:

    I came across this page while doing some research. The University of Maryland should have anticipated the pushback they experienced, some of which is reflected in the comments here. I know this is idle chat and not truly a serious forum (no reflection on JBHE; simply what Comment sections entail). Still, I feel the comments so far are uninformed and unaware of a large body of emerging research and practice on the role of white people in anti-racist practice and racial justice work. The use of caucus groups, for instance, has a fifty year history and is supported by groups such as the White Privilege Conference (whiteprivilegeconference.com) and the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (pisab.org), both organizations explicitly led by people of color. The analysis reflected in the comments above are unchanged from what was said since the middle of the last century and shows no understanding of what is needed to foster a white anti-racist consciousness that is accountable to leadership of people of color. Nor does it show any understanding of what is needed to decenter white culture and create a multiracial culture free of white supremacy (euroamerican.org). Please consider the possibility your stance is not helpful. At least take a look at it.

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