Several universities are experimenting with White identity retreats to address widespread race-based protests and rising tension on campuses across the nation, the Daily Beastreports.
The University of Vermont plans to host a three-day “Examining White Identity Retreat” for White students in November. And in January, the University of Oregon will hold a similar event for White students and faculty members.
According to The Daily Beast, the retreats will teach participants about White privilege, from a personal and systemic level, and will serve as a forum to discuss ways to fight campus racism.
The University of Vermont told the news outlet that the event is voluntary and “designed to engage White students who wanted to become more effective allies in confronting racism.”
Opponents of segregated programs, however, point out that White retreats, and other race-based campus organizations like Black student alliances, are often counterproductive, the news outlet said.
Those outside the racial groups tend to view the programs and organizations as bias against them. That’s especially true when the groups discuss matters that don’t include the larger campus community.
The Daily Beast highlighted a 2004 “ethnic enclaves” study at UCLA, which covered a four-year period. It found that “membership in ethnically oriented student organizations actually increased the perception that ethnic groups are locked into zero-sum competition with one another and the feeling of victimization by virtue of one’s ethnicity.”
Professor Jim Sidanius, a co-author of the study who teaches psychology and African-American studies at Harvard University, told The Daily Beast that students outside the race-based organizations develop an “increased sense of victimization,” which heightens “tension between and among these groups.”
He added that universities are struggling to come up with ways to promote campus diversity. Just about everything they’ve tried have had unintended negative effects.