By Howard Hecht
Racism seems to continually weigh upon both the faculty and students of Binghamton University. As a response to the apparent presence of bigotry and hatred on campus, university faculty and student groups, such as Students for Change, have worked to create a more diverse and inclusive environment on campus.
The implication that comes across due to these perennial responses to perceived bigotry, however, is that Binghamton University is a very, very bad place to go to school due to the many racist, bigoted, and problematic staff and students. Whether an individual agrees with that implication, though, should be up him or her.
Regardless of whether or not Binghamton’s campus is a hateful place, students are definitely allowed to express their concerns. To tell them issues regarding race, gender, and sexuality do not exist on campus would be to assume those issues cannot exist.
Bigots will always be present on a university campus, and no one should ever try to deny that. The extent to which that bigotry influences university policy, and how the general student population reacts to those bigoted people, however, is what would hopefully determine the emotional and physical response to that hatred.
A place like Binghamton University, which prides itself on its commitment to diversity and acceptance, absolutely does not approve of hateful attitudes. To call Binghamton University a politically correct institution is certainly fair. Clearly, Binghamton University is trying to be as accepting and diverse as possible.
It came as a shock to Binghamton Review, then, when a page from Binghamton University’s Residential Assistant training schedule was sent to our Facebook page. Listed alongside an event meant to give RAs an “overview of disabilities in Higher Education,” was one called “#StopWhitePeople2K16.”
Naturally, we decided to check and see if this information were legitimate, and have determined that the event’s existence is well within the realm of possibilities. We would, however, love to be shown proof that the event was not part of the RA training schedule.
Essentially, the event was meant to teach RA’s about “understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function within.” This type of rhetoric is commonplace in the university, and has become inseparable from the concept of social justice.
If you subscribe to the extremely leftist notion that to be racist against white people is “reverse racism,” and therefore white people cannot experience racism because “reverse racism” does not exist, then the title of this conference will not bother you. For the rest of the student population, however, the title may come as a bit of a shock, or at the very least spark interest in understanding the hashtag.
This is, of course, not the first time this hashtag has been used. A quick search on the internet provides many examples of its usage, and in many cases it seems pretty harmless, if not just generally petty. The only clear motivation for using the hashtag seems to be to shame white people for a variety of different things that are often not even relevant to a conversation regarding acceptance and diversity.
The terrifying implication here is not that students on campus think it is appropriate to call an event by that name, but that the university seems to endorse it as a proper part of a RA training.
Residential Assistants, which are undoubtedly some of the most important members of the campus community, must naturally go through a period of training prior to presiding over dorms. These people should be sensitive to the issues of their residents, and to be prejudiced against someone on the basis of his or her skin color would seem, just like the hashtag itself, petty.
For a university dedicated to providing an inclusive environment, calling an event “#StopWhitePeople2K16” seems counterproductive at best. The name is divisive, politically motivated, and does nothing to actually prevent racism. If anything, it seems to imply that the “uneducated people” mentioned in the event description must be white.
If talking about diversity and privilege are going to be a university endorsed part of training Residential Assistants, then perhaps, the following scenario is worth a bit of thought:
Obviously, something as superficial as a person’s skin color should not determine their worth. To assume so would only create divisions between people for the pettiest of reasons. Why, then, would it ever be productive to directly refer to someone’s skin color as something which makes them worth “stopping?” Furthermore, if Binghamton University is going to endorse “stopping” someone due to his or her skin color, without any explanation for why he or she must be “stopped,” would that not be a real example of racism on campus?
Just as many other members of the campus community have spoken out against bigotry and racism, regardless of university policies specifically meant to prevent and shame that sort of hatred, so should anyone else be allowed to dissect and approach a potentially hateful event on campus.
Feel free to disagree with that line of thinking, but also understand that other ideologies and points of view can exist simultaneously when attempting to prevent hatred on campus. At a public, state funded university, to potentially see racism endorsed is a frightening prospect for the future of higher education.
Hopefully, Binghamton University will reexamine its RA training to prevent events like “#StopWhitePeople2K16” from promoting prejudices. It would not surprise us, however, if both the event and this article are both completely ignored by the university.
Note: this is a developing story and updates will be posted as they become available.