MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The conversation about race continues to be a heated one at the University of Minnesota.
On Wednesday, a display board with examples of white privilege found in Mark G. Yudof Hall led to one student becoming upset.
The display features 11 postcards, each with a different statement that identifies what white privilege allows for those that benefit from it.
The statements range from “I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed,” to “I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.”
Evan Christenson, a current student at the U of M, told the online college forum Campus Reform he believed the board crossed the line.
Christenson was quoted saying the display “attacks the individual and not the idea.”
In an email to WCCO, Christenson, who calls himself a progressive, said he was not upset because of the board itself but of how it simplifies a complex issue.
“We (Democrats) lost in 2016 because we were too focused on raising tensions and not understanding viewpoints other than our own,” he said. “As a proud social progressive, I will continue my dialogue with white and non-white members of the surrounding community about this complex issue and how we can continue moving forward.”
The display, and Christenson’s subsequent comments, have caused several news outlets to take notice.
The University of Minnesota released a statement on the display Thursday afternoon:
Yes, the display is on a bulletin board within the Yudolf residence hall.
Housing & Residential Life staff use bulletin boards to update residents about campus events, engage the community around shared interests, and to provide information that promotes student learning, engagement, wellbeing, and academic success. Bulletin board topics can include study skills, time management, eating healthy, getting involved on campus, how individual differences play out on campus and in the community, and information about campus resources and services Housing & Residential Life’s goal is to promote and support the success of all of our students.
The bulletin board in question was posted to help students understand how identity based difference plays out in communities. In this case, it helps people think about how racial difference might uniquely impact individuals based on various settings and circumstances. Much of the content from the board was taken from the work of Peggy McIntosh, a women’s studies scholar from Wellesley College. We will make ourselves available to meet with students who feel impacted by the bulletin board and will provide additional resources as needed.
The Campus Reform article was the first time it was brought to our attention, and while coverage has led to a minimal amount of questions, we have not received any formal complaints.