UNC Charlotte’s Office of Identity, Equity, and Engagement is hosting “White Consciousness Conversations,” aimed to help students and staff with “understanding” their whiteness, and it’s confusing some people.

An original post on the campus events website said the spaces were “for white people.” That post was taken down and reposted days later with updated language clarifying the events do not exclude other races. The current post says the spaces are for “all undergraduate and graduate students.”

The group-based events will explore how racism is “perpetuated individually, culturally and systemically,” according to the website.

“We expect a diverse group of participants to converse about topics, including the reality of racism and discrimination in the lives of individuals of color,” said Stephen Ward, a UNC Charlotte spokesperson.

Still, some students disagree with the university hosting the events.


“What possessed y’all to create this? This is a clear and evident slap in the faces of your students of color and different nationalities,” one student tweeted.

Timothy Wayne Collie, a 1996 alumnus, said he gave $1,200 last week to the school’s donation campaign Niner Nation Gives. Then, he was disappointed to see the University putting on the event.

“I passionately disagree with the term ‘white privilege’ universities today are using far too easily,” he said.

Collie describes himself as a first-generation college student from a “rural” family. “A large part of our 130,000 alumni come from white, rural, financially-challenged communities,” he added.

Some students are backing up the event. Cody Derce, a senior, said it’s a relevant program on campus. Last September, a photo of a “colored” sign hung above a UNC Charlotte water fountain circulated on social media.

“I think it’s important to bring awareness to white privilege and discuss how it can be utilized for good,” he said. “In a lot of cases, people don’t realize when their privilege is used because most of today’s oppression is implicit.”

Earlier this month, University of Maryland received backlash after promoting a group as a “safe space for white students.” It was later changed to “Anti-Racism and Ally Building Group.”

The “White Consciousness Conversations” are just one of the events regarding “important and timely issues” the University is hosting, Ward said. There will also be “Women of Color Conversations” throughout the semester.

The White Consciousness Conversations for students will be held Oct. 25 and Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. in Room 261 of the Student Union.

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Alexandria Sands is the Niner Times' community editor. She is a senior majoring in Communication Studies with a double minor in Journalism and English. Sands' work has been published in The Charlotte Business Journal, Creative Loafing, The Gaston Gazette, The Shelby Star and The State Port Pilot. When she's not in the newsroom, you can catch her reading a book on Oak Island. Reach her at community@ninertimes.com or @alexsands_.

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