On Friday, August 12, an optional conference for Binghamton University Residential Assistants entitled “#StopWhitePeople2K16” was held in an effort to “take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function within.” Naturally, that title garnered a significant amount of attention in a very short period of time, and before long, the University delivered an official response to concerns from those who believed the title was racist.
Brian Rose, Binghamton University’s Vice President of Student Affairs, wrote in his response to the controversy that the program was not “‘anti-white,’” and instead was simply a “discussion” that “explored reverse racism, the relationship of communities of color with police, whiteness, crime and segregation in an open conversation format.”
Rose also wrote that the titular hashtag “is commonly used ironically,” and “as the senior student affairs officer on campus,” he is “supportive of the students’ efforts to facilitate dialogue around a challenging set of topics.”
If Rose and the rest of the University administration truly do not believe that “this particular program was inconsistent with the respectful environment we hope to support and sustain,” then perhaps they have either missed or completely ignored the point of controversy they were attempting to respond to.
To endorse a student-led discussion on racism and other social issues is something that is completely in line with Binghamton University’s principles, and should be celebrated as a true step toward understanding and accepting diversity on campus.
To see an event called “#StopWhitePeople2K16” excused a joke, simply because the event did not seem to promote hatred, is unacceptable, but according to one Residential Assistant who did attend the meeting, the discussion itself was definitely innocuous.
The RA, due to University policies which prevented them from being named in this article, asked that we keep their identity a secret.
In an interview with this RA, we discussed what they believed was the purpose of RA training, and further, the purpose of the event. Typically, according to this RA, “the topics discussed” during RA training “include policy, mindset as an RA, effective communication, and inclusion.”
The “#StopWhitePeople2K16” event evidently followed suit with those ideals, and the “hashtag was used because it’s what people on the internet used to counter discussions about white privilege, and a lot of the controversy behind black and white conflict is expressed through the internet.”
When asked about whether or not they had seen the official response from the Student Affairs office, the RA said they had not, and when asked to comment on the statement that the “hashtag is commonly used ironically,” the RA stated they “do not know how to interpret this statement.”
Ultimately, the RA concluded if the event was included in future Residential Assistant training, the presenters should “probably change the name so people get mad less,” but remained firm in their belief that “this discussion should continue or similar discussion should come about as it was very engaging, helpful, and thought provoking.”
Binghamton Review stands by any Residential Assistant who wants to better their community, and even though we do not agree with the title “#StopWhitePeople2K16,” we definitely support the RA’s who attempted to have open discussion on the topics listed in the event description.
In the past couple of years alone, multicultural organizations, alongside other students and faculty concerned by a lack of diversity and tolerance on Binghamton University’s campus were quick to rally and fight against any potential injustice. Those emotional responses to hatred are an incredible testament to the diverse, accepting community Binghamton University promotes.
What is disturbing, then, is when phrases, like “reverse racism,” and event titles, like “#StopWhitePeople2K16,” are validated by our Student Association, our faculty, and even some of our fellow students.
Ultimately, when Residential Assistants hold an event called “#StopWhitePeople2K16,” the official response from the student-affairs office is that the hashtag was used “ironically,” and that nothing about the conference indicated any sort of intolerance.
This sort of double standard is common when University officials attempt to remain politically correct, and unfortunately, is a completely predictable stance to see them take when they are attempting to placate any sort of disruption in the university’s status quo.
Rose’s response to “#StopWhitePeople2K16” is completely in line with the politically correct, leftist agenda so often seen on University campuses when dealing with issues of race and gender. If the event had been called “#StopBlackPeople2K16,” “#StopAsianPeople2K16,” or if it had referred to any other race, the response from the University would have undoubtedly been very, very different.
Nowhere in Brian Rose’s response to concerns over the event’s title does he apologize or even attempt to properly respond to the clear bias in the event’s title. Essentially, it is dismissed as a joke, and attention is immediately shifted to insisting that the event itself was not meant to offend anyone.
All Binghamton University had to do was apologize, but instead, they have decided to ignore the title and only concern themselves with remaining politically correct when, frankly, the media attention surrounding the event does not agree with the logic or politics involved in the event’s name.
Hopefully, Binghamton University will reevaluate their response, and the issues people are having with the event can continue to be openly discussed.