Rider schedules 'Seeing Privilege' event at same time as 'White Privilege Is A Myth'

After a conservative group at Rider University announced a “White Privilege Is A Myth” event, and the political science department refused to promote the event promoting “fake facts,” the school announced a “Seeing Privilege” event occurring at the same time.

As previously reported by Campus Reform, Rider University’s political science department stopped advertising Turning Point USA events to its students earlier in March due to the lack of “a clear understanding of historic realities,” according to Barbara Franz, chairwoman of the department when TPUSA attempted to advertise a “White Privilege Is A Myth” event. 

Franz compared the political science department advertising the “White Privilege Is A Myth” function to an astronomy department promoting a “flat-earth” event, in a follow-up interview with The Rider News.

[RELATED: Poli sci dept nixes ‘White Privilege Is A Myth’ student event ad, cites ‘fake facts’]

Rider’s Turning Point USA chapter continued spreading the word, through other venues, about its Tuesday event featuring Brandon Tatum and Anna Paulina from Turning Point USA’s national organization.  But Rider’s Department of Sociology and Criminology began posting advertisements on bulletin boards throughout the school to promote a teach-in gathering called “Seeing Privilege.” 

Rider’s political science department announced the “Seeing Privilege” teach-in to its students on March 29. (This reporter is a student in Rider’s political science department and was not included in the email announcement for the “Seeing Privilege” event). The goal of the teach-in is to give students an opportunity to hear about how privilege “invisibly shapes opportunities and outcomes,” according to the advertisement.

The “Seeing Privilege” teach-in was scheduled from 7-9pm on Tuesday. Rider’s Turning Point USA event had already chosen a time slot of 7:30-9pm on the same day.

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Rider has previously held teach-in sessions during free period on campus, which takes place from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and students have received extra credit from their professors for attending. 

Campus Reform reached out for a comment from Frank Rusciano, one of the five professors who was a panelist at the“Seeing Privilege” event. Despite conflicts in timing between the two events, Rusciano affirmed that he informed his students about the teach-in as well as the event hosted by Turning Point USA. 

“I have announced both events in class, and have encouraged students to attend both events,” the professor told Campus Reform.

Ting Wei, secretary of Rider’s Turning Point USA chapter and a student of Rusciano’s, seemed optimistic about the upcoming “Seeing Privilege” teach-in. 

“I believe that the existence of this event is important for truly open conversation, and I believe that even its scheduled timing represents an example of antithetical ideas allowed to healthily and openly compete in the university community,” Wei told Campus Reform.

June White, the outreach coordinator of Rider’s Turning Point USA chapter, also gave her take on the outcome of the event. 

“I was very excited and pleased that so many people came to the event,” White told Campus Reform. “However, as an individual, I was upset that my peers and fellow Rider community were so rude and disrespectful….Our school publication also spoke about us and wrote nothing kind. Targeting our organization and consistently posting articles that attack the integrity and honesty of our organization without any facts to support their claims. From the disrespectful crowd, the retaliation event, and the articles written about us in our school publication, it’s clear that Rider is not an intellectually diverse or even an intellectually inclusive campus.”

White claimed that a student had apparently attempted to persuade people in line for Turning Point USA’s event to go to the “Seeing Privilege” event instead. Campus Reform could not independently verify this claim, however. 

“A student was even passing out flyers for [the “Seeing Privilege”] event, despite the fact that their event started at 7 pm [before TPUSA’s event]. This event has proven that the Rider community is not open to new or different ideas no matter who they come from.”

[RELATED: Poster campaign tells students to ‘Check Your Privilege’]

Rider University spokeswoman Kristine Brown responded to the controversy in a statement to Campus Reform, Rider University strongly supports freedom of speech and a culture of respectful debate and dialogue on campus. We fully believe in a thoughtful exchange of ideas and encourage events where our community can come together to listen to and learn from one another.”

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