By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor, [email protected]
The University of Maryland (UMD), is being hit with a social media backlash after the school’s decision to provide a “safe space” for White students to talk about issues of race.
According to a report by WUSA9-TV (a CBS affiliate), the school posted fliers online an around the College Park campus, which included the language, “Do you feel uncomfortable or confused before, during or after interactions with racial and ethnic minorities?” The meetings initially were being called, “White Awake: A group for White students to talk about race,” and are being organized by UMD’s Counseling Center, which operates under the Division of Student Affairs, and will take place on Thursdays 10:00 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.
However, several people identifying themselves as UMD students posted their protests via social media.
“This is what UMD is doing now? Smdh…everywhere is a “safe white space” like COME ON,” wrote a Twitter user with the handle “Noire Unicorn.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “Someone at UMD really thought this was a good idea…like how do you have a group discussion about minorities without minorities…”
The outcry by students led to the flyer being taken down and the group being renamed an “Anti-Racism and Ally Building” group and it will now confer online.
“We agree with the feedback that the flyer was not clear enough in conveying the fact that the purpose of this group is to promote anti-racism and becoming a better ally,” read a statement by the Counseling Center, which sponsors the now online meetings. “We didn’t choose the right words for the flyer, and we are going to incorporate the feedback we have received into a revision of it. Again, we will discontinue use of the current flyer.”
However, the statement written by Noah Collins, Ph.D., staff psychologist and Sharon Kirkland-Gordon, Ph.D., director, goes on to say although the flyer will be discontinued, the group will meet.
“This is an incredibly difficult, nuanced issue, and that’s the reason we need to discuss it,” the statement reads.
“The aim of this group is to help White students become more culturally competent, so they can better participate in creating a more inclusive environment at the University of Maryland. This group is based on research and best practices, and we believe in it.”