At first it sounds almost like a positive gesture: A university that has not taken complete leave of its senses sends a message of conciliation to students whose only “crime” is having been born with white skin, offering them a weekend of hiking and recreation.
But then you examine the fine print and notice it’s the University of Vermont, the state school in a state so liberal that it elected a socialist to the U.S. Senate. Then there’s the politically correct locution self-identify, as though skin color is a matter of personal choice. And finally, this is not a 3-day vacation but a retreat, a chance for reflection and introspection.
And what white students are being brought together to introspect about is — you guessed it — their insufferable white privilege.
The Daily Mail explains that the event, which was held Nov.13-15, was sponsored by the university’s African, Latino, Asian, Native American and Bi/Multiracial Student Center (ALANA). The program is described at ALANA’s website as “free,” with the word in all caps. That’s meant to mean “at no cost,” though one might argue that playing into this guilt-fest requires the sale of one’s soul.
The website notes in its opening paragraph that the goal of the retreat is “for white students to engage in building a stronger and inclusive campus community,” a goal that might be more easily achieved if the student body weren’t 83.1% white.
You have to wonder, moreover, how the call for inclusiveness squares with the demand by student protesters at Princeton for an “affinity housing” option for black students, permitting those interested in black culture to live segregated from the rest of campus. I grant you that these are two different campuses, but how are whites nationwide to understand the contradictory messages of being told on the one hand to “let us in” and on the other to “leave us alone”?
The Mail reports that the retreat was held at the Common Ground Center in nearby Starksboro, Vt., which advertises its use of solar energy, natch. Among the questions that students were invited to ponder were “What does it mean to be white?” and “How does whiteness impact you?”
A reading list was recommended for retreat participants that included “The Invention of the White Race,” “White Privilege, Male Privilege in Race, Class, Gender,” “The Feminist Classroom,” and “The Abolition of Whiteness.”