Loyola recruits white students to become 'anti-racist allies'

Loyola University-Chicago is expanding a controversial program that trains white students to become “anti-racist, anti-supremacist White allies.”

While the school has offered the Ramblers Analyzing Whiteness (R.A.W.) program in the past, the number of recruits will nearly double this year, according to Loyola, which hopes to recruit at least 25 participants, more than double the 12 students who participated in 2016.

Unlike last year’s iteration of the program, this year graduate students are invited to join, as well, according to posts from the school’s Multicultural Affairs Office to promote the events.

[RELATED: Loyola-Chicago offers whites-only anti-racism group]

The program will hold seven workshops this semester to “create an affinity space for self-identified white students” to “engage in dialogue” surrounding racial issues.

“Aimed to further awareness, knowledge, and skills, R.A.W. invites white students to begin the journey of operating in solidarity with others in an effort to work towards racial justice,” the R.A.W. website states.

No prior knowledge of racial issues is required for participation as the program welcomes everyone from students “with little exposure to concepts of white privilege” to more advanced students who are “active white allies in their communities.”

During weekly meetings, students will explore topics such as “Unpacking White Privilege,” “Oppression, Microaggressions,” and “Vulnerability.” Upon conclusion of the program, participants will be required to develop an “Action Plan” they will use to educate the “larger Loyola community through presentations, interviews, and workshops.”

While the program is primarily marketed to “white identified students,” the application notes that students can be “bi-racial” or “multi-racial with white heritage” so long as they identify as white.

“You may also identify as bi-racial and/or multi-racial, where you may come from a mixed-race, mixed-heritage family where some members identify as white,” the website notes, but warns students that if they “identify as bi-racial and/or multi-racial, please know that the R.A.W. experience will focus primarily on the exploration of whiteness.”

[RELATED: UVM holds privilege retreat for students who ‘self-identify as white’]

“[Our office] is proud to offer a brave space for self-identifying White students to explore their identities as it relates to race,” Naseeb Bhangal, program coordinator for the Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Office, remarked. “Joining this space will spark courageous conversations and inspire others to take action and create change.”

Notably, as the program has faced widespread criticism and attention since its founding, it now includes a specific portion on its website dedicated to addressing such criticisms and offering testimony from students who “stand by” the program.

"I stand by this program, because people of color should not have to educate white folks about white privilege or systematic racism,” wrote one anonymous R.A.W. facilitator from last year. “It's time for white folks who get it to put in the work of ushering their white peers into the future."

[RELATED: Whites-only group explores its ‘racist superiority’ at MIT]

“I support R.A.W. because it helps white people become more comfortable and competent to talk about race and gives action plans for the journey to allyship,” another remarked.

In addition to the R.A.W. program, Loyola’s Multicultural Affairs Office is also selling t-shirts to help fund scholarships for DACA recipients, and will host an event on “monument removals” and “reparations” next week.

Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen