The University of Maryland at College Park announced on Friday that they will be offering a support group called “White Awake” for white students who need help to talk about living in an increasingly diverse country.
The University of Maryland support group, which was first reported on by Campus Reform, seeks to help white students better understand how they should carry themselves in our increasingly diverse country.
“This group offers a safe space for White students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings,” the description for the event reads. “Members will support and share feedback with each other as they learn more about themselves and how they can fit into a diverse world.”
The announcement of the project sparked a backlash on campus. Some minority students argued that white students should not have to be “taught” how to interact with students of other races. “Why do they need to attend therapy sessions on how to be a decent human being in society?” one student tweeted.
“The way they phrased it was that white people feel uncomfortable addressing a minority student, whereas we live in an uncomfortable state,” another student said. “The world that we live in right now is very hostile and dangerous to us.”
Another student argued that the support group was unnecessary. “I am so glad the @UMCounselingCTR has the resources to create this group, yet cannot accommodate to students who need immediate mental health assistance!!!!” the student tweeted.
— Ridgely Franklin (@nilknarfylegdir) September 13, 2018
In a statement made to the University of Maryland student newspaper, the counseling center said that descriptions for the events were misleading. “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,” the statement read. “This is an incredibly difficult, nuanced issue, and that’s the reason we need to discuss it.”