The Union of White NYU Students, formerly known as the White Student Union, continues to claim it is run by NYU students and is not the product of an Internet hoax.
Earlier this week, the site’s moderator posted a picture of what he claimed to be his NYU ID against a backdrop of the NYU home webpage shortly after the same picture was given to the website Gawker. Because of the timing, some at the website have questioned whether or not the ID belongs to the moderator.
The moderator of the page, however, insists there really is a Union of White NYU Students. He also said he appreciates the threats the page has received.
“I am glad I got such a negative reaction,” the moderator said. “I want other white students to see how they will be hounded and harassed and denounced by everyone in authority simply for saying that they do not hate themselves for being white.”
Other news sites have reported the union is likely a hoax because it was created roughly the same time as a number of other White Student Union pages at other schools. Additionally, all of the pages were created shortly after a thread on 8chan, an anonymous forum website, suggested users create White Student Union pages.
The moderator said the idea for the Facebook page came from current events — demonstrations by Black Lives Matter and the migrant crisis in Europe.
“We aim to reclaim the word and identity of whiteness,” the moderator said. “In America particularly, white is who we are. Whiteness is our identity because of the historical experience of white people of being from many different European ethnicities.”
They also insisted that claims by people of color that white people inherently have increased privileges and power due to race are false.
“We are told that we are privileged, that we have all the power and that activism on our own behalf is invalid because of this,” the moderator said. “We reject these claims.”
The page also said the group worried about the silencing of white voices.
The Black and Brown Coalition, which is leading the charge on campus to create a more diverse, inclusive place, disagrees with the Union.
“Our goal is not to silence white voices,” the coalition said in a statement. “Our classrooms, research labs and residence halls are dominated by white voices. How can white voices be silenced if, overwhelmingly, the voice of this university remains largely white?”
According to the coalition, over a third of the Class of 2018 identifies as white, while 71 percent of NYU professors are white.
The coalition added that the Union of White Students does not contribute to the race conversation on campus, and called for a stronger denouncement of it.
“When it comes to the [Union of White Students], we prefer to address it as it truly is — a reactionary and malicious specter, specifically engineered to disrupt progress and equitable change at NYU,” the coalition said. “We call on all members of the NYU community to speak up and speak out against the White Students Union.”
Other NYU students disagree with the Union and what it purports to want. CAS sophomore Richard Lagu, said he does not understand the group’s goals and thinks it should be taken down immediately.
“Whiteness does not even exist,” Lagu said. “It is a tool, a social construct, that has only benefited those under its umbrella at the expense of every other ethnic group in the United States.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 30 print edition. Email Justine Morris at [email protected]