Some of the most bizarre and dysfunctional behavior in America these days takes place on college campuses. Last year student protesters on the University of California-Berkeley campus physically prevented white students from accessing their classes and the Student Union Building to study. Incredibly, protesters declared UC-Berkeley was their university, even going as far as issuing a “notice of eviction” to white students before demanding that university officials create [safe] “spaces of color” for non-white students.
Safe spaces pop up on college campuses where a high number of students lack basic social skills to cope with diversity of viewpoints. But not all safe spaces are established for this reason. Recently, white students at Loyola University-Chicago were granted their very own “safe space” called Ramblers Analyzing Whiteness (RAW). In the past, anyone who simply expressed an interest in establishing a white group would be viciously attacked as a racist by the campus mob. So where’s the outrage at RAW?
Apparently, it meets the politically correct standards of what a white group should look like. RAW encourages white students to engage “in solidarity with others and their privilege” on “what it means to be white.” It also focuses discussions on their “anger and confusion about institutional racism” and “guilt and hope about internalized racism.” In other words, RAW is out to deconstruct the psychology of white people so whites can admit to each other how racist they really are. It’s just the latest gutter-think in college-sponsored identity politics (a.k.a. cultural Marxism) sweeping the nation, leaving the idea of higher education in ruins.
These Aren’t Isolated Examples
Here are a few more examples of white student groups. Oregon State University sponsors two “Social Justice Retreats,” one designed for white students and the other for students of color. White attendees learn about “white identity,” “privilege,” and “institutional racism.” What do non-white attendees learn at their retreat? They learn how to “maintain a positive self-image.”
Pomona College has established a white club dedicated to “owning our racism.” Portland Community College “values diversity” so much April was declared “Whiteness History Month” to examine white privilege and racism.
The term “white skin privilege” gained traction in the 1970s with the Weather Underground, a domestic terrorist group led by the unrepentant bomber turned leftist college professor Bill Ayers. However, in 1997 the University of California-Berkeley sponsored a conference called “The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness.” Campus life hasn’t been quite the same since.
After just three days, conference organizers reaffirmed what they had already believed—that white people are the “passive inheritors of a system of privilege and wealth” and that “this uneven distribution of privilege has been around for so long that no one [individual] can be held directly responsible for making it.” You know it by its more fashionable name white privilege.
“We [whites] don’t think of ourselves as belonging to racial group,” said conference organizer Matt Wray. “We tend to think of ourselves as individuals.” Therein lies the rub. For the Left to keep its investment in race alive, it’s essential to mortgage everyone to the notion that they’re not individuals, but members of a racial group, and in the case of whites, the oppressive race.
One doesn’t have to look hard for evidence. Walk the halls of almost any college campus, perhaps even an elite prep school, and you will surely notice there is no shortage of identity politics being taught in the classroom.
When Protesting Oppression Entrenches It
You may already be familiar with some of the separate “studies” courses being offered at colleges, such as black studies, Asian-American studies, Chicano studies, and practically every other group that isn’t white. The ultimate goal of these courses is to instill a sense of grievance and victimhood in the hearts and minds of America’s youth. However, the infamous Berkeley conference 20 years ago helped to inspire an entirely different course called “whiteness studies.” The goal of whiteness studies is to present all white people as the cosmic enemy responsible for racism and oppression everywhere.
But what if I told you that some colleges are starting to take on an eerie likeness of Jim Crow-styled segregation? In fact, there are so many examples of racially segregated dances, student housing facilities, and commencement ceremonies, it’s hard to keep up. Vanderbilt, UC-Davis, Cornell, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and scores of other prominent institutions are aggressively practicing identity politics. Even my old stomping grounds at California State University-Los Angeles and the University of Connecticut have regressed.
As for Loyola University-Chicago’s new white safe space, only 20 student applicants are selected to participate. They must self-identify as white, but may also “identify as bi-racial and/or multi-racial” and “may come from a mixed-race, mixed-heritage family where some members identify as white.” If a student is not sure of his or her eligibility, the student is encouraged to contact a group leader. What happens next is not clear.
Didn’t Americans Want Racial Segregation to End?
Applicants who receive the final stamp of approval must take six two-hour workshops “on topics such as white privilege, safe spaces, and cycles of oppression.” Given what I have learned about “requirements” of this nature at other colleges, I am suspicious. All this seems to be just another clever attempt by campus leftists to screen a broader range of individuals they think need some politically correct reeducation.
It’s shameful what has become of American colleges. Instead of promoting free speech, diverse viewpoints, critical thinking, and civil debate, students are schooled in separatist-minded identity politics, trigger warnings, and safe spaces. No wonder we’re witnessing an upsurge in intolerance, hate, and violence on campuses across the nation. It comes with an outrageous price tag, too. At Loyola University-Chicago, undergraduates are shelling out an estimated $56,000 a year, while UC-Berkeley students are paying upwards of $35,000. Clearly many people are not getting what they paid for.
Perhaps it’s high time more students and their parents stand up for themselves and demand an immediate refund. As taxpayers who subsidize many of these schools, we all should let our voices be heard in an effort to create a better, more liberty-oriented higher education system. Nothing motivates politically correct college boards to spring into action quicker than a bombardment of negative publicity that exposes the truth about college life under their watch.
In short, when reputations and bottom lines are at stake, things can change. Just don’t expect the same result for everyone. Some college boards will insist on learning their lesson the hard way.