'White group' at West Chester an attempt to discuss race, university says

Posted: December 02, 2010

A poster calling for a meeting of what was billed as a white student union group at West Chester University was a naive attempt to foster racial understanding, a university spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"It was good intention gone awry," said Pam Sheridan, director of public relations and marketing, adding that it apparently was an effort to draw students into a discussion about race.

The poster, which was hung on bulletin boards in several campus buildings Tuesday, called on those who "feel underrepresented on campus" or are "uncomfortable in other 'special interest groups' " to go to a meeting Thursday night in Lawrence Hall.

Students and university employees who saw the fliers contacted the administration, which looked into the matter.

Sheridan said that she did not know who was behind the effort but that the investigation revealed it was "a very innocent and naive attempt to create some sense of activism," she said.

"They wanted a reaction, then get students to come together to talk about it," she said, adding that no disciplinary action was taken.

The state university is overwhelmingly white, with 2,300 of the 14,500 students identified as minorities.

In a campuswide e-mail Wednesday, the school said the flier had "caused a great deal of upset and concern on campus. In investigating the situation, we have learned that the meeting was, in fact, designed to draw antiracist allies together. There is no White Student Union at West Chester University, and there is no meeting."

Contact staff writer Kathy Boccella at 610-313-8123 or kbocella@phillynews.com.

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