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Seeking a "Safe Space" to Protect Taxpayers from Wasteful "Spending on Political Correctness"



(p. A1) WORCESTER, Mass. -- A freshman tentatively raises her hand and takes the microphone. "I'm really scared to ask this," she begins. "When I, as a white female, listen to music that uses the N word, and I'm in the car, or, especially when I'm with all white friends, is it O.K. to sing along?"

The answer, from Sheree Marlowe, the new chief diversity officer at Clark University, is an unequivocal "no."

The exchange was included in Ms. Marlowe's presentation to recently arriving first-year students focusing on subtle "microaggressions," part of a new campus vocabulary that also includes "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings."


. . .


(p. A3) In August [2016], the University of Wisconsin system, which includes the Madison flagship and 25 other campuses, said it would ask the State Legislature for $6 million in funding to improve what it called the "university experience" for students. The request includes money for Fluent, a program described as a systemwide cultural training for faculty and staff members and students.

But that budget request has provoked controversy. "If only the taxpayers and tuition-paying families had a safe space that might protect them from wasteful U.W. System spending on political correctness," State Senator Stephen L. Nass, a Republican, said in a statement issued by his office, urging his fellow lawmakers to vote against the appropriation.

Mr. Nass's objection to spending money on diversity training reflects a rising resistance to what is considered campus political correctness. At some universities, alumni and students have objected to a variety of campus measures, including diversity training; "safe spaces," places where students from marginalized groups can gather to discuss their experiences; and "trigger warnings," disclaimers about possibly upsetting material in lesson plans.

Some graduates have curtailed donations, and students have suggested that diversity training smacks of some sort of Communist re-education program.

The backlash was exemplified recently in a widely publicized letter sent to new freshmen at the University of Chicago by the dean of students, John Ellison.

He warned that the university did not "support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual safe spaces where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."



For the full story, see:

STEPHANIE SAUL. "Campuses Cautiously Train Freshmen Against Subtle Insults." The New York Times (Weds., SEPT. 7, 2016): A1 & A3.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 6, 2016, and has the title "Campuses Cautiously Train Freshmen Against Subtle Insults.")






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