As you might have heard, the State University of New York – Binghamton (SUNY Binghamton) campus is offering a class for Residential Assistants called “#StopWhitePeople2K16.” For those of you who live under a bridge or a rock, RAs are the upperclassmen who are offered free housing in exchange for keeping an eye on the other students in the dorm.
But before these RAs are tasked with confiscating booze from freshmen and filing noise complaints, they have to take a couple of training courses on how to deal with the young ones. One of these optional courses offered at SUNY Binghamton is called #StopWhitePeople2K16. Here’s the description of the class:
“The premise of 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.”
Before we get started, I think I should say that most of the people I’ve seen react to the class have been horrified, mortified, and upset that the school is offering a class that openly calls for white people to be stopped. Here are some of the more “excited” reactions I pulled from a cursory glance at Twitter:
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 24, 2016
— Tommy (@tgags123HD) August 25, 2016
Obviously, more than a few people have their own ideas about the class–mostly about the name. But I think that if you can get past the shock value of the name (which was clearly chosen intentionally), you’ll learn that it’s not such a big deal. In fact, the class is very useful for an extremely hot-button topic that these young adults will be faced with. I’m talking about the difficult subject of race relations on the college campus.
I think it’s clear that college today is very different than it was even five years ago. Not just in regards to the effect that social media has on students, but in terms of how different groups are interacting with each other. From where we sit, it seems like the biggest cause of that change is the rise of Social Justice Warrior, Safe Spaces, and the Black Lives Matter movement, plus the inevitable push back from students and people who aren’t in support of those notions. Ffor example, take the pretty crappy situation at The University of Missouri, specifically Professor Melissa Click and her now infamous call for “muscle” to get a member of the media out of the Black Lives Matter circle.
Melissa is a woman who clearly took things too far, calling for students to assault another student. If this professor, an adult woman who’s been at an institution for years, can’t handle a peaceful protest, how are younger students, who are faced with new situations every day, supposed to properly deal with the rising racial tensions? Taking it a step further, how can RAs be expected to deal with possible issues stemming from race relations inside their own dorms?
That’s why it’s important for SUNY Binghamton to offer classes like #StopWhitePeople2K16: a course to teach people how to deal with diversity among freshmen who might not know what’s appropriate vs. inappropriate. Keep in mind, these freshmen are away from home for the first time, dealing with not only parties, issues with themselves, homework, and making new friends, but also interacting with new diverse, groups of people. SUNY Binghamton is a state school, and I’m certain there are more than a few first-generation college students who will be experiencing diversity for the first time. Not everyone. I’m just saying a few. But it takes only a few incidents to start a brush fire.
And if there’s one thing a school doesn’t want, it’s a repeat of what happened at Mizzou. Following the Black Lives Matter protests (which was frankly a much bigger issue than the Melissa Click story) at Mizzou, applications to the school were expected to drop 2,600 students–costing the school $16 million dollars in lost tuition. Truthfully, that bad press will probably follow them around for a couple of years, costing them much longer in the long run.
So can you blame SUNY Binghamton from wanting to teach their RAs about how to solve racial issues in the dorms? Even if you’re not a believer in “safe spaces,” I think it’s fair to say that no one wants things to boil over anywhere.
So that brings us to the name #StopWhitePeople2K16. Was it a name that was invented by the President of the school? Almost certainly not. Instead, the name was created by a couple of RAs who wanted to have a little fun with the name and maybe increase their attendance by using a popular hashtag on Twitter. Yes, #StopWhitePeople2K16 already existed before SUNY Binghamton. It’s pretty much a hashtag to poke fun at some of the dumb stuff that white people do.
Here are some examples that as a white person, I would also love to stop.
I can hear the haters now, “but stopping white people is racist!” Look, here’s a quick newsflash for everyone who’s a little nervous that state schools are actively trying to stop white people. They’re not. White people are just as strong as we were a decade ago. Need proof? How about the Stanford swimmer Brock Turner who was convicted of raping an unconscious girl BEHIND A DUMPSTER, who then didn’t spend more than six months in prison? Or how about the recent story of David Becker, a high school student who was charged with raping two unconscious women at a party. Instead of getting a normal trial, the judge let him walk, allowing him to live a “productive life.”
From Becker’s attorney, Thomas Rooke:
He can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender. The goal of this sentence was not to impede this individual from graduating high school and to go onto the next step of his life, which is a college experience. We all made mistakes when we were 17, 18, 19 years old, and we shouldn’t be branded for life with a felony offense and branded a sex offender. Putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid’s life.”
Please try to tell me that if these were black kids (not celebrities or professional athletes, because they always get away with everything) they would walk. No f*cking way.
Obviously, not all white people are rapists, but I’m handpicking extremely violent crimes and criminals to show that white people certainly have an advantage in society. Personally, I’m hella stoked(!) that I’m white because I
think know that it gives me many advantages in life. That’s not white guilt, that’s fact. I don’t feel guilty that I’m white at all, I feel blessed. But that doesn’t mean I’m also blind to what was handed to me.
So despite what a single, non-required class that’s being taught to a select group of older SUNY Binghamton students is called, no one is trying to actually stop white people. And even if they were, it wouldn’t ever happen. Ever. Everyone’s just getting up in arms about it because that’s what people do now. Just like some Black Lives Matter protesters are taking things too far, the same amount of people pushing back on BLM are doing the exact same thing. Hell, some forums are even publishing the names of the three students responsible for teaching the class and trying to get them fired.
The rebuttal I’m seeing from a lot of people is that calling it #StopBlackPeople2K16 would be racist, so why not white people? That’s a good question. Maybe because black people have an institutional history of being “stopped”? Maybe because that’s a real thing, unlike white people even being slowed down.
After all of the hullabaloo online, SUNY Binghamton did itself a favor and investigated the class before Jesse Watters from Watters World or someone from Fox News got the exclusive. And what did they find? That there were zero anti-white sentiments even being discussed. Here’s a statement from an official of the school:
“What we strive to do from an administrative level is cultivate an environment where our students listen to one another, learn from one another and do so in a manner that doesn’t cause unnecessary harm. I have no indication that this particular program was inconsistent with the respectful environment we hope to support and sustain.”
Another RA who attended the course told the Binghamton Review that “if the session is used again in RA training… the presenters should ‘probably change the name so people get mad less.’ ” They added that “The training itself was ‘very engaging, helpful, and thought-provoking.”
Keeping everything (which is a lot) in mind, I support a class like #StopWhitePeople2K16. The subject matter is extremely important for people to understand moving forward. The title is catchy, funny, and so in-your-face impossible to take seriously that I am not scared by it at all.