Student trying to start white student group at TCC

Posted Sunday, Apr. 07, 2013  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A 57-year-old Tarrant County College student is gathering signatures supporting the formation of a white student group that would allow people to embrace their heritage while also addressing issues such as affirmative action and the creation of a White History Month.

Richard Railey, who is studying information technology at TCC, has been trying to generate support for the White Student Union of Tarrant County. He said white students don't have a group of their own, but groups have been formed around other races, ethnicity or interests.

Railey also is questioning TCC's Men of Color Mentoring Program, which he says discriminates against white men and all women. That program aims to help struggling African-American and Hispanic male students succeed by offering several resources, including personal mentors and specialized tutoring.

He has a flyer that questions why men of color are a focus and questions why white students appear to be left out of the program. Railey said he has filed a complaint with the federal government on those grounds.

"I just wanted a place where the kids could celebrate their culture and heritage," Railey said. "I kind of felt left out."

A TCC administrator, in defending the Men of Color Program -- which aims to build student success by making students aware of the tools they have at their disposal -- said that mentors are provided information about resources available to all TCC students.

"The Men of Color Program and all other student services programs are open to any interested TCC student," said Reginald Gates, TCC's vice chancellor for communications and external affairs. "Anyone who has applied to participate is welcome to participate."

"They share that information and encourage participants to become engaged in the existing programs and services that are provided to all students," he said.

The Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education would only state that there is currently a complaint alleging that TCC discriminated against a student on the basis of race with respect to participation in a particular program.

The complaint is being investigated, according to a Department of Education spokesman.

All campus organizations must be recognized by TCC and must abide by established rules; they also may not discriminate against staff or students, according to TCC guidelines. Every club needs a faculty adviser, and the guidelines state that the formation of new organizations is expected to come from students

Railey's group has not been sanctioned by TCC, but it has a website and a Facebook page that states: "The White Student Union is an ethno-centric student club open to all current and former students in Tarrant County as well as others interested in promoting white awareness."

Railey said the eight signatures he had obtained as of noon Friday were enough to satisfy part of the requirements, but he needs to get a faculty adviser on board to move forward with TCC's process. His efforts have prompted some media attention. He was recently the subject of a blog post on the Dallas Observer.

On Friday, Railey answered questions from students at a table at the TCC Trinity River Campus in downtown Fort Worth. He handed out background information about his group at a table complete with pastries and soft drinks to give away.

One student came to Railey's table after hearing about the information table from other students who were upset.

Johnathon Miller, 27, visited with Railey after his proposed group stirred debate in one of his classes. Miller asked pointed questions about Railey's motives for the group and whether it should include the term "white."

Miller ended up signing Railey's membership list and wants to do research on some of the issues Railey raised about fair allocation of campus resources.

"I think he should start his group," Miller said, adding if he thinks the group crosses a line he would pull his support.

Some students were open to the idea of a white student group as long as it doesn't promote intolerance.

"Honestly, it doesn't seem like it's completely bad," said Billy Lyons, 20.

Lyons, who is a member of the Men of Color Mentoring Program and Drama Club, added: "I think it should be allowed to become a group. As long as it doesn't practice supremacy or hatred, it should be OK."

But Gail Lockwood, president of the Gay Straight Alliance known as TREE (Trinity River Equity in Education), said she opposes the group's formation because it raises the issue of racism given the nation's past struggles with civil rights.

"I am against it," Lockwood said. "I know he is here hoping to get into a debate. I don't want to add fuel to the fire."

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675

Twitter: @dianeasmith1