Georgia State University’s official roster of more than 300 campus organizations includes everything from the Bengali Student Association to the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Club. But one student group you won’t find on the list — the new White Student Union — is already making headlines nationwide.
Freshman Patrick Sharp says he launched the White Student Union this summer in order to recognize and appreciate white culture. As he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “All we want to do is celebrate white identity. This is about being in touch with who you are as a white person and being proud of that.” Although the group has not been recognized by the university, Sharp says a handful of students have already joined.
It is unlikely that the union will receive a charter from the university. To do so, it would need to find a faculty advisor, which Sharp concedes would be difficult. What’s more, several students have already complained to the Atlanta school’s administration after seeing the club’s flyers posted around campus. While Sharp is aware that people will accuse his group of being racist, he tells the Constitution, “I’ve already heard some of that and I don’t care what they have to say.” He added, “Why is it when a white person says he is proud to be white he’s shunned as a racist?”
The university has taken no action to ban the group. According to the Constitution, Doug Covey, vice president for student affairs, responded to complaints by saying that the group had a right to exist and practice free speech. It will also be allowed to meet in common areas on campus.
Sharp said he was inspired to begin the group after hearing about a similar organization formed by students at Towson University in Maryland. Towson’s White Student Union received media attention earlier this year when it planned to organize night patrols of the campus in response to a high crime rate. The group’s blog said, “For those who are not Towson students it seems hard to fathom that every single day black predators prey upon the majority white Towson University student body.” Both the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League have called the Towson club a hate group.
The 100-year-old Georgia State University, which is primarily a commuter school, has a racially-diverse student body. Among its approximately 32,000 graduate and undergraduate students, 37% are white, 36% are African American, 11% are Asian and 7% identify as Hispanic, according to the student-ranking site College Prowler.