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Binghamton University is drawing national criticism for their RA training course titled #StopWhitePeople2k16. The course was an optional part of RA training, meant to help attendees better understand diversity and privilege.

The description of the training course read, “The premiseof this session is to help others take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function within. Learning about these topics is a good first step, but when encountered with ‘good’ arguments from uneducated people, how do you respond? This open discussion will give attendees the tools to do so, and hopefully expand upon what they may already know.” Led by three RAs, between 40 to 50 RAs attended the session.

The university first responded by offering support to the training course, explaining that it wasn’t “anti-white.” Brian Rose, the university’s vice president for student affairs said in a statement, “The program title ‘#StopWhitePeople2K16’ was drawn from a familiar hashtag in use on Twitter, and was not invented by the program facilitators. It is my understanding that the hashtag is commonly used ironically.”

He added that he was supportive of the efforts to facilitate dialogue around challenging topics, saying, “Topically, the discussion in the program was far-ranging, student-driven and explored reverse racism, the relationship of communities of color with police, whiteness, crime and segregation in an open conversation format. Post-session feedback predominantly described the session as a respectful and productive conversation. Professional staff followed up directly with a few participants who had a mixed reaction to the program in support of those participants.”

The next day, however, the university issued an apology for the title of the course. According to Binghamton University’s conservative student newspaper, Rose then released a message offering an additional perspective on the title of the training course. He said the title was understood not to be literal, however, acknowledged that it ultimately should have been named differently. “Out of context, it is offensive and alarming,” Rose wrote. “That was not the intent.”

The statement indicated that facilitators of the program have been personally targeted and once again indicated that the intent of the course was “to explore race-related topics in conversation.” Despite acknowledging the misstep, controversy continued to swirl over social media throughout the following day.

Social Media Responds to Binghamton University’s #StopWhitePeople2k16

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