The program was offered at the State University of New York at Binghamton to resident advisors (staff who support students in dorms).
The training involved exploring topics in an open conversation format such as reverse racism, the relationship of communities of colour with police, whiteness, crime and segregation. About 40 to 50 resident advisors chose to attend the session.
The session was advertised in a pamphlet as “helping others take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege and the society we function within”.
“Learning about these topics is a good first step, but when encountered with 'good' arguments from uneducated people, how do you respond?
“This open discussion will give attendees the tools to do so, and hopefully expand upon what they may already know.”
The program title “#StopWhitePeople2K16” was drawn from a hashtag in use on Twitter, and was not invented by the program facilitators, according to Binghamton University.
On social media, the program has been labelled racist, counterproductive and confusing.
The university's conservative student paper, The Binghamton Review, also slammed the course.
“If you subscribe to the extremely leftist notion that to be racist against white people is ‘reverse racism’, and therefore white people cannot experience racism because ‘reverse racism’ does not exist, then the title of this conference will not bother you,” said the article.
“For the rest of the student population, however, the title may come as a bit of a shock, or at the very least spark interest in understanding the hashtag."
The article added that for a university dedicated to providing an inclusive environment, calling an event ‘#StopWhitePeople2K16’ seems “counterproductive at best”.
“The name is divisive, politically motivated, and does nothing to actually prevent racism. If anything, it seems to imply that the “uneducated people” mentioned in the event description must be white,” said the ariticle.
In an online statement the university said the title “#StopWhitePeople2K16” is commonly used “ironically”.
“Its purpose, as conceived, was to facilitate a discussion among the RAs that would improve their ability to handle conflicts among residents around issues of diversity,” said Brian Rose, Vice President for Student Affairs.
“We verified that the actual program content was not ‘anti-white’. The inclusion of the program in the educational session was not driven by any University administration initiative to advocate any specific viewpoint on diversity.
“What we hope to do from an administrative level is cultivate an environment where our students listen to one another, learn from one another and do so in a manner that doesn’t cause unnecessary harm.”
A staff training course titled ‘StopWhitePeople2K16’ that was intended to be a dialogue on racial diversity and inclusion has come under fire for being racist and counterproductive.