I found the article below while I was trying to determine if other campuses of the University of California had issued official statements criticizing the Rittenhouse verdict. (They didn’t.) However, the Vice-Chancellor of UC Irvine, who apologized for making such a statement, wrote me a nice response to my email.
Now to the article. Seriously, this stuff is both divisive and insane, and I’m really tired of writing about it. You can get the gist from the title of the article, which appeared at The Hill (click on screenshot):
Here’s most of the column:
A public Massachusetts university offered segregated “processing” spaces to students following the not guilty verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two protesters demonstrating against the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Last week, a jury unanimously declared Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty on all charges relating to the fatal shooting of two protesters — Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber — and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz.
In response to the verdict, Fitchburg State University’s Center for Diversity & Inclusiveness informed students about the “processing” spaces in an email sent to the student body, according to Fox News.ADVERTISEMENT
“The Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness is creating space for our community to process the ‘not guilty’ on all accounts [sic] verdict in the Kenosha, Wisconsin case where Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois native shot and killed two people protesting the wrongful death of Jacob Blake in 2020,” the email read, incorrectly stating that Blake had been killed.
Blake was severely injured in the August 2020 police shooting, becoming paralyzed as a result.
As Fox News reported, the university said the “processing” spaces would be divided into four different spaces: “Students of Color Processing Space,” “White Student Ally Processing Space,” “Faculty and Staff of Color Processing Space” and “White Faculty and Staff Ally Processing Space.”
In a statement responding to Fox News, a spokesperson for Fitchburg State University acknowledged the error regarding Blake’s condition. The spokesperson also defended the school’s use of what they called “identity groups,” saying organizing in such a way was a “proven educational strategy.” They added that the school planned to also have a “combined session.”
Note that there are not two but FOUR processing spaces, divided up by both position (students vs. faculty and staff) and race (people of color versus pallid allies).
Further, it is very clear that the Fitchburg State University officially thinks that the Rittenhouse verdict was wrong. If he had been found guilty, there would be no “processing spaces”. (I’m still not clear whether the white men Rittenhouse shot were joining Black Lives Matter in the riots, rather than just going there for the fun of it, or even to exacerbate violence.) And the use of “ally” in conjunction with “White” means that the processing spaces are for people who consider themselves allies of Black Lives Matter of the other black protestors in Wisconsin, or of the grieving black students themselves.
This kind of division of spaces (were there puppies, cookies, and coloring books?) truly infantilizes everyone. Why do you need a space to grieve for a verdict that was probably the correct one given the law, and a verdict that doesn’t at all say anything at all about structural racism. Do you really need to “grieve”? What does that mean? Getting angry about the verdict with your friends? Why do you need a special space to do that?
Finally, if segregation like this is a “proven educational strategy”, where are the data supporting it? Should we start segregating classes, too: “separate but equal”?