Part of the flyer posted on GSU's campus by the White Student Union
ATLANTA (WXIA) -- A new student club at Georgia State University is
attracting more attention than most new student clubs do -- just the
club's name is stirring up controversy.
The first-year student at Georgia State who organized the club is calling it the "White Student Union."
Photo Gallery: Student organizes "White Student Union"
The organizer, Patrick Sharp, insisted Wednesday night that no one should have any cause for worry or concern.
Sharp said he has heard objections from students about the club's name, and he understands why some are objecting.
But he's hoping no one will pre-judge him or his club.
"I decided to organize a White Student Union," he said, simply.
He started posting flyers this summer on the downtown Atlanta campus of Georgia State University.
Sharp said when he started his first year during this summer term, he
noticed there were many other student clubs devoted to various racial
and ethnic interests.
So he started the White Student Union.
He said five or six students have joined so far.
"I sort of took it upon myself, kind of with inspiration from Matthew Heimbach's group in Maryland, at Towson University," which is also
called the White Student Union, to form a similar club at GSU, Sharp
The White Student Union at Towson University has been accused of being a hate group, which Heimbach has denied.
At GSU, the group "Progressive Student Alliance" has posted flyers on
campus against Sharp's club, equating his club with white supremacists.
"You know, to say this is some closeted or curtained white supremacy,
it's pretty -- and I'll go ahead and turn their words around on them --
it's pretty ignorant and close-minded," Sharp said. "It's a pride
organization, it's a cultural organization, what we have is not hate for
any other group... Whites are becoming a minority... We have a voice,
we're unique people, and we have every right to make that voice heard."
The new club has stirred up controversy not only among students at
Georgia State, but also among students at other colleges and
Amanda Miller just graduated from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, and
was at GSU Wednesday night waiting for a friend who was taking a final
"I think to have a white student association is kind of ridiculous,"
Miller, who is white, said. "I mean, on one level, I understand wanting
to connect with your heritage," and she said she might be interested in
participating with others who share her family's background, which is
Irish and Norwegian. "I don't feel the need to join a white student
association. I'm happy to connect with my personal, cultural roots. But a
white student association sounds a little, I don't know, I could see
how it could go very wrong."
GSU Senior Stephanie-Joy Rhoden, an African American: "It's just the
name, I think, really to be honest" that raises concerns for many. "That
might make you go to that place in your head where you're, like, whoa,
wait a minute, what's that about."
She's keeping an open mind about the club.
"Hopefully they have good intentions," she said, and, if so, no one
should interfere with them "to do their thing. If they want to make a
group, who's to say that they can't, in today's society?"
"At this point, we're received emails from six students," said GSU's
Vice President for Student Affairs, Douglass Covey. "The students are
expressing concern about the intended purpose of this organization."
Dr. Covey tells them the White Student Union, as an informal student club, has every right to exist.
The GSU student body is diverse. 38 percent are white, 35 percent are
black, 12 percent are Asian, and seven percent are Latinos.
Dr. Covey said if Sharp wants the club to be a formal, recognized,
GSU student organization, he can go through the same application process
that the current, 300 or so official student clubs underwent.
"The campus, as a public institution, is a place where freedom of
speech and association and the liberal exchange of different points of
few is cherished and protected," Dr. Covey said. "And any group that
wishes to seek recognition must meet the standards of alignment with
institutional mission and non-discrimination. And any group which wishes
to exist informally, without institutional affiliation, certainly is
free to do so, just as a right of their citizenship."
"What we are is an organization that just loves where we come from,"
Sharp said, "we love our heritage, we love our ancestries, and we have a
lot of pride in that."
Sharp said he hopes the club will grow during fall semester when more
students are attending classes. And he said he wants to work with
student clubs representing other races and ethnic groups on charities
and causes and issues important to all on campus and across the city.
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