Patrick Sharp, 18, created the White Student Union at the Atlanta university last month. Its mission is to “unite white students to advocate for their interests and the interests of white people, while celebrating heritage, culture, promoting a sense of “white identity”, and working in unison with other campus organizations to tackle issues that affect us all,” the group’s website states.
“With politicians calling for a ‘national discussion’ on race, why should white people be left out of it?” Sharp told The Huffington Post. “We’re simply trying to make our collective voice heard.”
Since the White Student Unions’ inception — it’s not officially recognized by the university as it lacks a faculty sponsor — the organization has sparked intense debate on Georgia State’s campus over whether it should be tolerated. But, others argue, shuttering the group could be seen as an infringement on the First Amendment right to free speech.
Those against the group have already logged a host of complaints with GSU’s Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Covey, he told Atlanta’s WSB 750 AM. Covey said those against the group began expressing concern after the group handed out fliers featuring a map of Europe and the slogan “It’s Time.”
However, Covey argued the group has a right to exist, saying all students at the university “enjoy the right to engage in free speech.”
Sharp’s group isn’t the first of its kind, either. Students at Towson University in Maryland created a white union last year. However, Towson’s group gained notoriety after two of its members made comments defending slavery, while other led “night patrols” in an effort to stop black-on-white crime in the school’s vicinity.
But Sharp was adamant against comparing his organization against the Maryland university’s. He told The Huffington Post it was “by no means a clone group” and said it “wasn’t looking to bite off more than [it] can chew.”
“Nowhere in [the union’s] description is there demands for white dominance, ethnic cleansing, or racial segregation,” Mitchell Oliver, a student at GSU, wrote in an editorial for the school’s newspaper, The Signal. “If you replace the word ‘white’ with any other ethnicity and you have the basic idea behind every cultural organization on campus.”
But others weren’t too keen on the idea.
“Do white students need a unified voice?” Terry Harlin argued in the same piece. “Are there needs that are not being met? Why not a European cultural club, if the emphasis is indeed on heritage?”
Since its founding, Sharp’s group has been met with some obstacles. According to The Signal, the White Student Union was denied access to an organization fair for first year students because it wasn’t yet registered in the school organization system. Additionally, the paper reported, the group is listed as one of five chapters of Traditional Youth, which posts “racially-charged images on its Facebook page,” The Signal’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Shattuck wrote.
Sharp has denied links to the group.