A Towson University student says he's gathering support for a white-pride organization on campus, a semester after his efforts to start a related group stalled amid a campuswide debate over race and free speech.
Matthew Heimbach, a senior U.S. history major, is leading the effort to create a White Student Union. His former group, Youth for Western Civilization, had sparked controversy with its public displays against Islam, same-sex marriage and multicultural education.
That group disbanded after it lost the support of its faculty sponsor, but Heimbach said he hopes his new organization will promote white identity without disparaging other people.
The purpose of the union is to provide a support network for whites on campus who feel they are discriminated against because of their race, he said.
"It comes a point where we're not directly involved in what happened centuries ago and our culture just perpetuates the guilt cycle," he said. "We want to provide a positive view of white identity."
Heimbach is seeking affiliation with the Student Government Association, which would help the group get student activities funding after a year, and would allow members to use university meeting rooms without being charged.
The designation requires a university-approved constitution, at least seven student members, and a faculty or staff adviser. Heimbach said has secured nine members, but he declined to name them without their permission. He said he also met with a professor who he hopes will become a faculty adviser. He would not name the professor.
Victor Collins, the university's assistant vice president of student affairs for diversity, said he believes Heimbach's group should be treated like other campus groups as long as its members meet the requirements and obey Towson's rules. Though he supports the group's First Amendment rights, he said, he does not agree that Towson's campus is prejudiced against whites.
"They think they are a parallel comparison to the Black Student Union," Collins said. "In my observation in American society and history, I don't know if white students have been discriminated against or denied access to intuitions. This is a predominantly white institution. I don't understand why they have to [form.]"