Commentary on UW Madison “whiteness means privilege” grad student requirement

Robin Vos:

Our university system is a place to encourage and cultivate diversity of thought. Instead, it appears to have turned its back on the values of intellectual diversity and the discussion of differing viewpoints. It is unacceptable that the University of Wisconsin – Madison requires graduate students to take a mandatory class that instills the university’s negative opinion of white students and the idea that students should feel guilty simply because of their race.

It has been brought to my attention that under the guise of violence prevention, UW-Madison has allowed its University Health Services division to push their own political beliefs and agenda on its graduate students through a mandatory “Graduate and Professional Students Preventing and Responding to Sexual and Relationship Violence” course. Students are not only required to take this course and pass with a 100% score in order to enroll in classes but they are also required to agree that whiteness means privilege.

The course states that Critical Race Theory and Critical Race Feminism can help students understand privilege better and “how a regime of white supremacy and its subordination of people of color have been created and maintained in America… not merely to understand the vexed bond between law and racial power but to change it” (Crenshaw, et al. 1995, xiii). The course labels white/Caucasian, Christian, men, middle-or upper class, native English speakers, U.S. citizens, non-disabled, etc., as privileged groups in the United States.