GVSU offers scholarships to attend White Privilege Conference

Grand Valley State University is encouraging students to attend next year’s “White Privilege Conference,” even offering “opportunities for scholarships” to attendees.

The 19th Annual White Privilege Conference that will take place in April 2018 in nearby Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an announcement on GVSU’s website—which has since been removed but remains available in a cached version—advertises various ways that the school plans to facilitate participation..

“There will be opportunities for members of the GVSU community to get involved by helping to spread the word, recruiting attendees, and volunteering during the conference,” the page states. “In addition, opportunities for scholarships to attend the conference will be made available as part of the Division of Inclusion and Equity's strategic goal of providing educational and professional development opportunities related to social justice for faculty, staff, and students.”

[RELATED: Students nationwide attend four-day, school-funded white privilege bash]

Organizers of the White Privilege Conference boast that the annual event now draws more than 1,500 annual attendees, including high school and college students, higher education professionals, and activists.

Despite its name, the Conference no longer focuses exclusively on “white” privilege, having broadened its scope to include privilege based on “gender, sexuality, class, disability, etc.” as well.

“The WPC is a conference that examines the challenging concepts of privilege and oppression,” the GVSU announcement explains via an FAQ produced by The Privilege Institute. “It is not a conference designated to attack, degrade, or beat up on white folks. It is not a conference designed to rally white supremacist groups.”

[RELATED: ASU hosts workshops by ‘White Privilege Conference’ founder]

A GVSU spokeswoman told Campus Reform that “the Division of Inclusion and Equity is the primary unit working with the conference organizers,” but clarified that “planning efforts are still very early” and that “no formal partnership” exists between GVSU and the WPC.

When asked for clarification on the nature of the partnership between the WPC and GVSU, however, the school immediately took down its page promoting the WPC, claiming afterward that the page had been removed because the conference is “not a university event.”

GVSU did not respond to further questioning from Campus Reform, for instance regarding the cost and nature of scholarships offered to WPC attendees, and the WPC’s press coordinator declined to make himself available to answer questions.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen