University of Vermont to hold another ‘white privilege’ student retreat
By Evan Lips | September 1, 2016, 16:48 EST
BURLINGTON, Vt. — For the second year in a row, the University of Vermont will be spending taxpayer dollars on a retreat aimed at helping white students grapple with the privileges associated with being white.
The school noted on its website that it’s “excited to announce Examining White Identity: A Retreat for Undergraduate Students Who Self-Identify as White,” which it describes as a “new retreat specifically for white students to engage in building a stronger and inclusive campus community.”
Some of the workshops include topics that focus on how to “conceptualize and articulate whiteness from a personal and systematic lens” and “recognize and understand white privilege from an individual experience.”
The three-day November retreat, according to website, is billed as “FREE” and will also “explore questions like ‘what does it mean to be white? How does whiteness impact you?’”
TheCollegeFix.com, a news website focused on tracking campus life, reported the announcement of a second annual retreat last month. The retreat has drawn criticism from commentators like Todd Starnes of Fox News, who labeled last year’s maiden voyage into social justice at UVM, “Blame the White Guy 2015.”
“Some folks might self-identify as black,” Starnes opined. “Others might self-identify as white. But as for me – I self-identify as an American – a free man.
“And I think that’s a privilege no matter what color you are.”
UVM released a statement last year responding to criticism.
“This non-credit bearing retreat was designed to engage white students who wanted to become more effective allies in confronting racism and supporting students of color at UVM. These students were seeking an educational opportunity for themselves to learn about and understand the issue of white privilege, its historical roots, and its current dynamics and impact.“
“Funding for the retreat was shared by several departments. The students who attended did so on a voluntary basis, and the facilitators who participated were also volunteers.”
“As a public research university, the University of Vermont plays an important leadership role nationally in addressing issues of social justice, fairness and equality.”
A university spokesman told the College Fix that last year’s white privilege retreat tab totaled $6,000.