Jennifer Miller, Daily Local, December 2, 2010
Controversial fliers announcing the formation of a White Student Union on West Chester University’s campus were allegedly part of an effort to connect those are who against racism and are not the seeds of a racist organization, according to school officials.
The flier states:
Feeling under represented on campus?
Looking for a place to share YOUR views?
Uncomfortable in other “special interest” groups?
Then this is the place for you!
The flier invites interested students to the club’s first meeting. It also includes a photo of seven fists in the air.
“There is absolutely no White Student Union here,” Sheridan [Pam Sheridan, university spokeswoman] said. “There absolutely isn’t going to be a meeting.”
Seeing the fliers, students and others raised concerns over the possibility of a racist organization on campus, Sheridan said. The Campus Client Intervention Team, which addresses acts of intolerance or bigotry, conducted an investigation. The examination revealed that the fliers were actually posted to promote anti-racism, Sheridan said.
“People who know the students who distributed the fliers know what they represent and they don’t represent (racism),” Sheridan said. “The poster was put together with a totally different agenda in mind and it backfired. The intent was in fact positive–to get people to talk about an issue.”
It is unclear how the flier authors would have handled the situation if protesters and/or students interested in the club showed up for the meeting.
West Chester University has roughly 14,000 students. About 15 percent of WCU students are minorities.
On Tuesday, the Campus Client Intervention Team sent out a campuswide e-mail explaining that the White Student Union was fictional.
“The Campus Climate Intervention Team remains committed to a safe, inclusive, diverse and civil environment and counts on every member to make that a reality,” the e-mail stated. “We regret deeply the discomfort that this has caused segments of our campus.”
Briana Rollerson, a freshman and member of the Black Student Union, felt the flier was done in poor taste.
“In my opinion, it seems like it’s mocking the Black Student Union,” Rollerson said.
Rollerson said BSU does not focus only on race, but holds events related to religion and sex, and recently celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. She also said anyone is welcome to join BSU or attend its events.
Quinn Larson, of Downingtown, said the university should be open to allowing a group that focuses on white students’ needs.
“If it’s open to everyone, then I don’t think it would be a problem,” Larson said.
Another student, who asked to remain anonymous, said the university should avoid clubs that are classified by skin color. At the same time, the student said because there is a Black Student Union it would be OK to offer a “European Student Union” that focuses on European cultural aspects, like food and art.