Taxpayer-Funded College Holds ‘White Privilege’ Retreat

Blake Neff

The University of Vermont has just wrapped up a special three-day retreat for students who “identify as white” so they can confront their white privilege.

“Examining White Privilege: A Retreat for Undergraduate Students Who Self-Identify as White” took place last weekend, and was first noted by Campus Reform Wednesday morning.

While at the retreat, students mulled important questions such as “What does it mean to be white?” and “How does whiteness impact you?” They were also given the opportunity to, in the words of organizers:

  • conceptualize and articulate whiteness from a personal and systematic lens;

  • recognize and understand white privilege from an individual experience

  • as well as the impact of white privilege on the UVM community and beyond;

  • build a community of dialogue and support in taking action against racism.

The retreat has apparently been held before, as the website for it contains several testimonials from students who attended an earlier one.

“EWPR was a great opportunity to talk about an identity that I had not previously felt equipped to comfortably discuss,” said student Abby Freas. “Getting the chance to go off campus and talk about systems of power with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise made the retreat a valuable experience.”

The whites-only retreat was, ironically, put on by Vermont’s African, Latino/a, Asian, and Native American Student Center. Most of the center’s activities are focused on activities that appeal to racial minorities, such as a Women of Color Leadership Retreat, and the whites-only retreat may exist to ensure no group is entirely left out.

Efforts to teach white people about whiteness aren’t uncommon, Campus Reform notes, but the effort at Vermont stands out because of the school’s public nature. The school receives about $40 million in state funding every year.

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