University Hosts Retreat for White Students to Confront ‘White Privilege’

November 18, 2015

The University of Vermont hosted a retreat last weekend for white students to confront their "white privilege."

Campus Reform first reported on the retreat, which spanned three days and was held exclusively for students who "self-identify as white." The event, which was free of cost to students, was organized by the ALANA (African, Latino/a, Asian, and Native American) Student Center, according to the university webpage advertising the retreat.

"It’s a new retreat specifically for white students to engage in building a stronger and inclusive campus community," the website reads.

The program offers participants the opportunity to "conceptualize and articulate whiteness from a personal and systematic lens" and "recognize and understand white privilege from an individual experience, as well as the impact of white privilege on the UVM community and beyond."

The goal of the event is also to "build a community of dialogue and support in taking action against racism."

Retreat participants explore a series of questions, including, "What does it mean to be white? How does whiteness impact you?"

The retreat webpage also features a series of testimonials from past participants, including one from a female class of 2015 graduate who said, "I enjoyed the Examining White Privilege retreat because it provided a safe space to learn about yourself and others and how we experience and understand privilege and systems of oppression."

Another student called the retreat a "great opportunity," as she had not previously felt "equipped to comfortably discuss" her identity as a white person.

UVM, a public university, also hosts a "Women of Color Leadership Retreat," which took place on the weekend of Nov. 6-8. The goal of the retreat is to answer questions about the role of women of color in leadership positions and explore how these women can "grow" their leadership skills.