“White Awake,” a new University of Maryland student support group formally announced on Friday, “offers a safe space for White students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings.” While the support group’s focus is to help white students be more “woke,” it’s already experiencing some strong backlash.
The support group, highlighted by Campus Reform, is offered by the UMD Counseling Center and led by Noah Collins, a counseling center employee who specializes in group therapy and promoting “racial and cultural awareness.”
The UMD Counseling Center offers a number of such student support groups, including: the “Hope and Healing” (sexual assault therapy), “Creating Confidence” (anxiety), “A Lighter Shade of Blue” (depression), “My Body My Self” (body image), the “International Student Support Group,” and the diversity groups “Circle of Sisters,” “LGBTQIA Support,” “Entre Nosotrxs Latinx Support Group,” and now “White Awake.”
Here is the description of “White Awake” provided by the counseling center, which will be offered once a week:
Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable and confused before, during, or after interactions with racial and ethnic minorities? Do you want to improve your ability to relate to and connect with people different from yourself? Do you want to become a better ally? This group offers a safe space for White students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings. Members will support and share feedback with each other as they learn more about themselves and how they can fit into a diverse world.
Campus Reform notes that the new “safe space” has already been met with strong backlash from students online:
“I am ashamed over the execution of white awake nor do I fully understand its clause. ‘How they can fit into a diverse world’? Why do they need to attend therapy sessions on how to be a decent human being in society?” a UMD student wrote on Twitter. “Why do they need to have these sessions to learn how to coexist?”
“Just like classes. You can’t take one class and feel like you have all understanding over a certain subject,” the student added. “It takes practice, it takes problems, it takes more than one course, so ‘White Awake’ has good intention but I am skeptical over the fairytale result.”