After online backlash about a training program for resident assistants titled “#StopWhitePeople2K16,” the State University of New York at Binghamton says it “reviewed the session and program more closely to obtain and accurate understanding” and “verified that the program was not ‘anti-white,’” a university official tells Heat Street.
The program, developed and hosted by student RAs, was created to help students respond to “’good’ arguments from uneducated people” on the topics of diversity, privilege, and society, according to the training manual sent to RAs.
RAs did not have to attend this particular session, but between 40 and 50 did, the university said. The topics discussed included whiteness, reverse racism, police relations with minority communities, crime, and segregation.
Brian Rose, vice president for Student Affairs, said most of the feedback they received was positive, describing the session as respectful and productive. “Professional staff followed up directly with a few participants who had a mixed reaction to the program in support of those participants,” Rose said in an email to Heat Street. “What we strive to do from an administrative level is cultivate an environment where our students listen to one another, learn from one another and do so in a manner that doesn’t cause unnecessary harm. I have no indication that this particular program was inconsistent with the respectful environment we hope to support and sustain.”
But others on campus raised concerns about the program.
Writing for the conservative student publication the Binghamton Review, reporter Howard Hecht described the session as a shock. Hecht said the session’s name was “divisive [and] politically motivated,” adding that “the only clear motivation for using the hashtag seems to be to shame white people for a variety of things that are often not even relevant to a conversation regarding acceptance and diversity.”