Elon University in North Carolina has canceled a recent “white caucus” gathering of white-identifying students who discuss their roles in systemic racism after the event began receiving negative responses from students.
Vice President of University Communications Daniel Anderson stated that in accordance with school policy, any activity that discriminates base on age, race, color, sex, disability, or gender identity would not be allowed.
“Because this student-led program would have excluded non-white individuals, it would be at odds with university policies and will not be held. Elon is reviewing the planning for this event to ensure that future programs are planned in compliance with university policies, are inclusive and align with the university’s mission,” he told Fox News.
Anderson added that some students from the School of Education were responsible for setting up the white caucus but The Young America’s Foundation (YAF) argued otherwise.
In an official statement, the conservative youth organization said that the invitation email was sent by Jennifer Strange, the coordinator of graduate education programs at Elon. They also mentioned that the Office of University Communications ignored YAF concerns about whether or not college administrators approved of the exclusive gathering, dismissively explaining that Elon “has many different initiatives to promote racial understanding.”
This is not the first time Elon has hosted a white caucus, as students from the School of Education were invited to take part in the program last September.
Dean Ann Bullock wrote an email addressed to students describing the caucus “as part of the School of Education’s diversity, equity, inclusion initiatives” with the goal of exploring racial injustice and systemic oppression in higher education without having to retraumatize or harm people of color.
But for Jon Seaton, a Black freshman at Elon, upholding these white-only meetings would be a “horrible idea” because discussions about racial inclusivity must involve students of color.
Elon senior Jaya Bhardwaj also expressed her disappointment with the initiative. She told Elon News Network: “The only way white people can actively change their opinions and learn something valuable is if they listen to the stories and very valid feelings of people of color.”