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Students at Western Carolina University are speaking out against resident adviser support meetings being divided into two separate meetings, one for students of color and another for everyone.
In an email obtained by Fox News, the school is set to hold a support space on February 11th for students who identify as BIPOC, which stands for Black and indigenous people of color. The school will then hold a separate meeting meant for all students on February 13th.
Fox News spoke with several students at the school who vehemently opposed students being split into different racial categories for the meetings.
“I find the idea of separate RA support groups based on race to be abhorrent,” one RA, who wished to remain anonymous, told Fox News in a statement. “Segregation was wrong then and it is wrong now. Every RA goes through different trials with their residents and it is something that us as RAs should work through together, not divided by immutable characteristics.”
Another RA, who also wished to remain anonymous, said the policy “doesn’t make sense.”
“We want to be all about diversity and inclusion, but then we have separate meetings?” the RA added. “How is that progressive?”
Chris Stirewalt, campus coordinator for TPUSA, told Fox News that RA meetings should include everyone in order to more effectively work together.
“Western Carolina continuing to separate residential assistant support spaces based on race goes against the foundations of what we were raised on,” Stirewalt said. “Instead of separating these groups, having them work together to have their concerns heard would be much more effective to create a mutual understanding.”
Stirewalt continued, “I hope to see a Western Carolina University where many different viewpoints can come together as a melting pot and create community and respect. This separation puts that in jeopardy and is something that I will not stop fighting against.”
Fox News also spoke to a member of the Western Carolina University Alumni Board who said dividing support spaces into racial categories is reminiscent of Democrats in the Jim Crow south.
“I guess their solution to the problem they created with their training program is separate but equal,” the board member told Fox News. “Kind of ironic that the liberals running the school have resorted to the racist past of the Dixiecrats for a solution.”
In a statement given to Fox News on Friday, Western Carolina University Executive Director of Communications Benny Smith said that all students are welcome at the BIPOC support space.
“The sessions referenced were created to provide support to our diverse RA community. Specifically, the BIPOC support group was created at the request of students,” Smith said. “All our support sessions are completely optional and open to all RAs, regardless of race or ethnicity, to discuss different perspectives and experiences. All the support sessions are organized with the assistance of staff from WCU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) department.”
Students told Fox News they were not made aware that all students were welcome at the BIPOC support space. Fox News followed up with Smith and asked why a separate support space for BIPOC students was necessary if all students are allowed at both meetings. Smith declined to comment.
The continuation of racially divided meetings from past semesters comes weeks after RAs at the school told Fox News that they were being subjected to mandatory sensitivity trainings that included a “gender unicorn” that outlined the fluidity of sex and gender. Additionally, students were warned that they are “denying” the “racial experience” of another person if they say “When I look at you I don’t see color.” They were also told that referring to America as a “melting pot” can be deemed offensive and be interpreted as saying “you should assimilate to the dominant culture.”
After the story was published, one of the students received death threats and several school officials supported a fundraiser mocking the students’ concerns while boasting about being proud to be called “woke.”
In an email to alumni and students following public outcry over the Fox News article, Western Carolina University Chancellor Kelli Brown, after the school did not return a request for comment from Fox News, said, “WCU strives to ensure that all students feel supported and at home in our residence halls and in expressing their views in all areas of campus life. What I have heard this week is that, for some students, we have not met that goal.”
Brown added that the trainings were taken “out of context.”
In a statement to Smoky Mountain News last month, Brown said the school is discussing “How do we train and empower our RAs to create a welcoming environment for all students, regardless of their identity, race, ethnicity, gender, background or views?”