Back in October, a Towson University senior proposed a new club. He wanted to form a White Student Union on his campus. He felt that every group had an advocacy group, except the white race. Not surprisingly this sparked national headlines and provoked racial chatter among people of all races. Questions of whether this was racist grew with intense discussions and debate. While many topics were debated a simple question entered my mind: if the White Student Union were to become an official club, could someone of a different race join? To fully understand why I would ask this question here is a personal example:
Growing up in a rural area of Pennsylvania, I did not know many people that were a different race. In fact, I could probably count the amount on two hands. I was taught the whole "Golden Rule" philosophy, but I wouldn't call the area I grew up in diverse. When it was time to pick a college, I choose a small liberal arts college named Lycoming College located in Williamsport, Penn.. The entire size of the school was roughly 1,500 students with fewer living on-campus. For some of my fellow students, this was less than the population of their high schools.
My freshman year, one of the first people I met was a guy named Matt (who is black). We were talking about potential clubs that we thought about joining. I asked if he was going to join the Black Student Union (BSU). His response was the "is it because I am black?" I replied with a "no" and said I would join the club with him. I personally didn't care what the name was and it wasn't like I was going to fork over dues or sign a binding contract. Heck, there might be free pizza or some other first meeting incentive.
So, I joined the BSU and started attending meetings. A friendly reminder is that I am white. I figured college is supposed to be about new experiences. Instead of getting a tattoo or dying my hair blue as a sign of my newfound independence, I joined a club completely out of my element.
The next four years in the BSU was interesting and fun. While the campus wasn't the epicenter of diversity, there was still enough interest in the club for it to succeed. Though I was the sole white male member all four years; there were a few white female members. For the most part the BSU was a typical club. It hosted social events around campus. There was an annual Black Alumni Dinner in which I attended and still attend to this day. Some issues of race did come up especially around Black History Month and there were a few race-related incidents on campus that sparked discussion and action. This was one of the few times I remembered there were issues among the African American community that I would never understand, even if I tried. Nevertheless, some of the people I met in that club, regardless of color became (and remain) some of my best friends throughout my time there.
When I heard there was a possibility of a White Student Union on a college campus, I initially thought it was a joke. However, whoever decides to create a White Student Union on their campus will run into a brick wall if they encountered a person like me. I didn't join the BSU to make a statement, though initially I received strange reactions from some. So, if a person who isn't white wanted to join the White Student Union, they should be allowed. Wouldn't that contradict the entire point of the club? Not entirely, but it might damper their cause depending on how far the club actually wants to go to get their message across.
The Towson University student technically has a right to start a White Student Union. However, I would question his motives. Was he trying to stir the already shaky racial pot? In a campus like Towson, while diverse, the majority is Caucasian, is a White Student Union necessary potentially taking away funds from other organizations? While I wouldn't see a place like Howard University accepting a White Student Union either, at least they might have more of a case. While in all areas, things are becoming more diverse, it is not at such a rate that the white voice is somehow being lost.
While Americans have hit many milestones, when it comes to racial issues or issues of equality, there is still a lot of work to be done. The racial divide is slowly fading, but the line still exists in many communities across America. The White Student Union reminds us of this divide. While our landscape is changing, it is not changing fast enough to warrant a club like this. Will white people ever become a true minority? Population-wise yes, but other factors would need to occur for there to be any true "struggle." While it would seem hypocritical to some for not allowing a White Student Union to exist we are currently not at the point in history where a club like this could occur without propelling us backwards instead of forwards.