Elon University’s School of Education is hosting a weekly “White Caucus” open only to “white-identifying” students, according to an email obtained exclusively through Young America’s Foundation’s Campus Bias Tip Line.
“A white caucus is a space for white-identifying individuals to engage in conversations that unpack race and systemic oppression,” the email read. “White caucuses allow white-identfying [sic] allies to have these conversations in a way that does not burden or re-traumatize people of color. White caucuses give white people a space to learn about and process their awareness of and complicity in unjust systems without harming their friends of color.”
The email, signed by several undergraduate students in the School of Education, informed students that it is “urgent” they are involved in the caucus, noting “We know that racism and systemic oppression are woven deeply into the roots of our society and our education system… White caucusing is one part of a lifelong and multifaceted commitment to antiracism for white-identifying people who are passionate about racial justice.”
Students who are interested in joining the caucus must fill out a Google form, which requires signing a confidentiality agreement saying that nothing can be shared “outside of the group for any reason,” including recording or taking photos, social media posts or “talking negatively about others outside of the caucus.” The motto for the group, according to a screenshot obtained by YAF, is “What is said stays, and what is learned leaves.”
Jennifer Strange, Elon’s Coordinator of Graduate Programs in the School of Education, sent the email to all education students.
YAF asked Elon’s Office of University Communications if administrators knew or approved of this segregated event and if the school had any concerns that “white caucusing” may constitute a civil rights violation. The response YAF received ignored our questions, and instead explained the school “has many different initiatives to promote racial understanding.”
Sadly, this is not the only recent instance of racial segregation being used by so-called ‘progressives’ in higher education. YAF has exposed similar segregated caucuses and trainings at schools across the country, including University at Buffalo, UC Davis, University of Kentucky, and University of Florida.
Racially segregating conversations meant to improve race relations and build community will only create more division. Elon is essentially putting a gag order on students who partake in white caucusing by forcing them to sign a confidentiality agreement. What exactly are they hiding, and what are these students afraid of the wider public knowing about?
College is intended for students to face uncomfortable ideas–to live and learn in a community made up of people from different places and backgrounds. Separating students by the color of their skin is the antithesis of having a diverse and welcoming campus.
UPDATE: Elon has cancelled the whites-only caucus, following YAF’s reporting. A university spokesman released this statement:
“Elon University today learned of a program being organized by a group of students in the School of Education who wanted to hold candid, confidential discussions about racism without victimizing those of other races. Elon’s policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, creed, sex, national or ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran’s status. Because this student-led program would have excluded non-white individuals, it would be at odds with university policies and will not be held. Elon is reviewing the planning for this event to ensure that future programs are planned in compliance with university policies, are inclusive and align with the university’s mission.”
Are you facing bias or discrimination on your campus? Submit a tip to YAF’s Campus Bias Tip Line.