University of Kentucky Segregates Residential Assistant Training by Race

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October 5, 2020

The University of Kentucky segregated its residential assistant diversity training by race, separating white and non-white RAs into separate groups.

According to an email obtained by the Young America's Foundation, the University of Kentucky conducted two training sessions, "one for [resident assistants] who identify as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color [sic] and one for RAs who identify as White." The sessions were hosted by the university's Bias Incident Support Services and addressed "microaggressions and microinvalidations" in the workplace. Residential assistants—commonly dubbed RAs—are subsidized student volunteers who keep tabs on university dorms.

The training for white RAs was called the "White Accountability Space," while the training for non-white RAs was called "Healing Space for Staff of Color." The White Accountability Space came with supplemental materials based on the book ...But I'm Not Racist! by Dr. Kathy Obear, a white woman who claims she "has helped thousands of whites find the courage to challenge and change the dynamics of racism in their organizations."

According to the training, racist attitudes include the belief that white individuals have earned what they have; that the problems faced by people of color have "perfectly logical explanations"; and that the "good intent" of whites outweighs the negative impact of their behavior.

Before the segregated breakout programming, RAs attended a lecture by Brandon Colbert, a member of the school's Bias Incident Support Services. Colbert has a track record of making anti-American statements, including a Twitter thread in which Colbert calls the national anthem, Columbus Day, Independence Day, the police, and the American flag racist.

A University of Kentucky spokesman confirmed that RAs participated in breakout sessions around "particular topics of interest" but declined to comment on the segregated portion of the training.

The University of Kentucky's office of residential life did not respond to requests for comment.