EXCLUSIVE: Student denied mental health access for being White

A USF student was denied access to mental health services because he was not part of the right racial groups, exclusive emails and documentation obtained by Campus Reform show.

The university counseling center recommended that the student 'catch another [session] either during Winter break and/or next semester.'

University of South Florida (USF) student Andrew Davis was denied access to the mental health help he sought because he was not part of the black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community, exclusive emails and documentation obtained by Campus Reform show.

After noticing that none of the “Understanding Self and Others” (USOgroup therapy meetings worked with his schedule, Davis asked USF’s counseling center on Oct. 3 of 2022 if he could instead attend the BIPOC meeting since this worked with his schedule.

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In the email sent to the counseling center, Davis inquired, “I am interested in attending a USO group meeting after completing the pre-group appointment but the only day/time that works for me is Wednesdays during the BIPOC students-only group. I am not a BIPOC student but was wondering if I would still be able to attend?”

“Unfortunately, we do need to keep this space specific to BIPOC folks ... Hopefully you’ll be able to catch another one either during Winter break and/or next semester,” the USF Counseling Center responded to Davis.

After receiving this response, Davis filed a complaint with USF’S Office of Compliance & Ethics on Oct. 5. It was not until Feb. 8 of this year, however, that Davis received a response. 

According to Davis, during an Oct. 18 Microsoft Teams information-gathering meeting regarding this issue, Equal Opportunity Officer Kenneth Thomas “was accusatory” and “asked me if I even knew what BIPOC meant and if I understood the importance of those groups having their own discussion.”

”He did not seem concerned about my complaint and was more worried about the University’s ability to continue these groups,” Davis relayed.

When the Office finally issued their official decision on Feb. 8, it read, “The Counseling Center will not prohibit any category of student [from] participating in specialized counseling groups unless specific exception, or a medical mandate is identified that may support exclusivity.”

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Campus Reform has also recently reported on the investigations that conservative activist Chris Rufo conducted on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives at USF, demonstrating just how pervasive the impact of this ideology is at the Florida school.

One of the documents found in the investigation states, “Knowledge about the ongoing history of institutionalized, structural racism and white supremacy and their interactions with other forms of oppression is critical to building a just, equitable, and democratic future for the United States.”

All relevant parties were contacted by Campus Reform for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.