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Florida university prevents white student from attending mental health meeting because of his race: ‘We do need to keep this space specific to BIPOC folks’

A Florida university has been accused of preventing a white student from attending a mental health meeting on campus last fall because of his race.

According to an exclusive report from Campus Reform, officials at the University of South Florida prevented Andrew Davis, a white male USF student, from attending one of the “Understanding Self and Others” meetings last October because it had been designated for BIPOC — or, black, indigenous, and people of color — students only.

On October 3, Davis emailed the USF Counseling Center to inquire about attending the BIPOC-only meeting since the other meetings conflicted with his schedule. “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,” Davis wrote. “I am not a BIPOC student but was wondering if I would still be able to attend?”

The Counseling Center replied that he could not. “Unfortunately, we do need to keep this space specific to BIPOC folks, as the topics that come up are going to be unique to those identities,” the reply email stated. “Hopefully, you’ll be able to catch another one either during Winter break and/or next semester.”

Davis was outraged that he had been denied entry because of his race and filed a complaint with the USF Office of Compliance & Ethics a few days later. During a subsequent Microsoft Teams meeting with several school officials regarding his complaint, Davis claimed that USF Equal Opportunity Officer Kenneth Thomas “was accusatory” toward him and asked him whether he “knew what BIPOC meant” or 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 said of Thomas.

Four months later, Davis finally received a response from the compliance office about his complaint. “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,” the office said in a statement on February 8.

Whether Davis was satisfied with this response is unclear.

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