Wednesday, November 25, 2015

An Occident Waiting to Happen?

From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Occidental College [] faculty members are considering the creation of a formal system to let students report them for microaggressions, according to a document first obtained by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian advocacy group. The proposed microaggression-reporting system is part of a broader plan to respond to black-student unrest at the California college, and is scheduled to be put before the faculty at its December 1 meeting. The plan, drafted by the college’s Faculty Council, includes among its other provisions calls for mandatory diversity training for faculty members and a proposed requirement that all academic departments incorporate “issues of cultural and racial identity and diversity” into the curriculum. The plan says the creation of a microaggression-reporting system would recognize “the power imbalance between faculty and students.” It calls for the faculty to work with students and the college’s chief diversity officer “to develop an effective mechanism for students to address and report microaggressions or other conflicts between students and faculty,” to begin next fall. Although faculty members at colleges elsewhere have been issuing statements in support of black-student protests, the Occidental Faculty Council’s embrace of student opposition to microaggressions appears likely to put it at the forefront of a broader national debate pitting advocates of racial sensitivity against advocates of free speech. Among statements that colleges elsewhere have classified as microaggressions — or subtle, and often unintentional, forms of discrimination — are expressions of opinion that free-speech advocates defend as protected by the First Amendment and the principle of academic freedom. Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech advocacy group, vowed in a written statement issued on Monday to challenge the Occidental plan if it is adopted...

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