The University of Maryland (UMD) was forced to take down flyers and change the name of a counseling program that offered “safe space for white students” after sparking outrage on campus.
At the beginning of the fall semester, UMD’s Counseling Center posted flyers for a new group called “White Awake,” which prompted the backlash.
Early Friday, the university’s website changed the name to “Anti-Racism and Ally Building Group” and scrubbed any references to a “safe space” and “white students.”
“This group offers a safe space for white students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings,” the initial description read. “Members will support and share feedback with each other as they learn more about themselves and how they fit into a diverse world.”
The flyer also asked if white people ever “feel uncomfortable and confused” in their “interactions with racial and ethnic minorities,” and if they “want to become a better ally.”
Several students conveyed their outrage on social media and on campus.
“The world is a space for white people to talk in,” one student told The Diamondback, a UMD student newspaper, expressing how unnecessary the new initiative is.
Another student tweeted she was “ashamed over the execution of white awake,” writing, “Why do they need to attend therapy sessions on how to be a decent human being in society…to coexist?”
Noah Collins, who leads the group and specializes in group therapy for the Counseling Center with an interest in “racial and cultural awareness,” issued a statement Thursday night saying UMD will discontinue the flyer and consider changing the name, but that it stands by the group.
He added the flyer was “not clear enough” in explaining that the group’s aim is “anti-racism and becoming a better ally.”
The university told Fox News in a statement that UMD’s Counseling Center acknowledges it “did not choose the right words in raising awareness about this research-based initiative, and how this group has been perceived is counter to the values of inclusiveness and diversity that we embody.”
“This is an incredibly difficult, nuanced issue, and that’s the reason we need to discuss it,” Collins wrote. “The aim of this group is to help white students become more culturally competent, so they can better participate in creating a more inclusive environment at the University of Maryland.”