Education

Columbia University Promotes Program Where Students ‘Critically Engage With Whiteness’

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Kendall Tietz Contributor
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Columbia University’s official Instagram account promoted a post on its story calling on students to get involved in a school program where they can “critically engage with whiteness.”

The university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs first posted the photo and caption on Instagram to promote its Students Exploring Whiteness program.

“Every White person who claims and/or believes themselves to be liberal, progressive, and a champion for social justice NEEDS to critically engage with whiteness in this way in order to truly begin to do real work,” the post said, which was attributed to a Students Exploring Whiteness participant. “It’s not just a program of learning, discussion, and activities; it helps you develop the mindset, outlook, practice, and lifestyle that is necessary to truly being anti-racist.”

“Meaningful anti-racism work by white-identified students requires spaces to critically engage with whiteness, challenge internalized superiority, and seek humility and vulnerability in shaping and maintaining commitments to anti-racist action,” the post adds. “It requires pursuing this without adding to the burden that many students of color already feel to teach their white peers.

The “Students Exploring Whiteness” website says that “racism impacts and implicates everyone,” but in a the yearlong cohort program “students who desire a space for sustained personal work and peer support around understanding race and challenging racism with a goal of developing an anti-racist framework and toolkit that can be brought to other student communities on campus.” (RELATED: University Of Texas Students File Lawsuit Claiming Alma Mater Song Is ‘Racially Offensive’)

The program’s participants will meet ten times throughout the school year to engage in storytelling, readings and group dialogue to “explore bias, privilege, systemic oppression, white fragility, solidarity and tools for taking action,” according to the website.

This is not the first time Columbia has made anti-racism and social justice efforts a prominent focus at the university.

In Sept. 2020, Columbia’s marching band dissolved after 116 years because it was “founded on the basis of racism” and “cultural oppression.”

In March, the university also announced plans to hold six different graduation ceremonies on the basis of race and socio-economic status in addition to its regular commencement.

In June, North Korean defector Yeonmi Park spoke out in an interview with Fox News about her experience at Columbia University, where she experienced “anti-Western sentiment, collective guilt and suffocating political correctness.”

“You guys [Americans] have lost common sense to [a] degree that I as a North Korean cannot even comprehend,” she said. “The people here are just dying to give their rights and power to the government. That is what scares me the most.”

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