By ASHE SCHOW (@ASHESCHOW) • 6/22/16 11:52 AM
Two professors at the University of Northern Colorado were investigated after students complained that they were forced to hear opposing viewpoints.
The complaints were made to Northern Colorado’s “Bias Response Team,” an Orwellian office on campus that asks students to report their peers and professors for anything that upsets or offends them. When the news outlet Heat Street made an open records request for some of the complaints, it discovered that two students had become so upset about having to hear an opinion they disagreed with they filed reports with school administrators.
And rather than telling the students to buck up because they might hear those opinions outside of college or on the news or in the media, the schools told the professors to stop teaching that there’s an alternate viewpoint.
One professor instructed his students to read an article from the Atlantic written by Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s president Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt titled “The Coddling of the American Mind.” The article explains that allowing students to hide from controversial and upsetting ideas (like through the use of “safe spaces” or “trigger warnings”) actually harms those students by not allowing them to confront those opinions.
After reading the article, the professor asked his students to address controversial topics such as abortion, gay marriage, global warming and transgenderism. The professor made no indication as to what his opinion on the matters was, but one student, who identifies as transgender, was upset that the professor even referenced the opinion that “transgender is not a real thing, and no one can truly feel like they are born in the wrong body.”
Instead of learning how to confront this opinion and be able to adequately teach someone how they are wrong to believe that, the student felt they shouldn’t have had to hear it in the first place.
“I would just like the professor to be educated about what trans is and how what he said is not okay because as someone who truly identifies as a transwomen [sic] I was very offended and hurt by this,” the student wrote in their complaint.
Never mind that the professor wasn’t even expressing his own opinion — this student just wanted the discussion shut down. And the school obliged.
A member of the Bias Response Team “advised [the professor] not to revisit transgender issues in his classroom to avoid the students expressed concerns.” He was also told “to avoid stating opinions [his or those of the authors] on the topic as he had previously when working from the Atlantic article.”
This is what America’s colleges are becoming.
Another Northern Colorado professor was also investigated by the BRT (notice how the acronym sounds like “brat”) for assigning controversial reading on homosexuality.
“Specifically there were two topics of debate that triggered them and personally felt like an attack on their identity (GodHatesFags.com: Is this harmful? Is this acceptable? Is this Christianity? And gay marriage: Should it be legal? Is homosexuality immoral as Christians suggest?),” the BRT’s report said.
As with the other complaining student, this one felt the class should not have to hear an opinion counter to what they believe.
“I do not believe that students should be required to listen to their own rights and personhood debated,” the student wrote. “[This professor] should remove these topics from the list of debate topics. Debating the personhood of an entire minority demographic should not be a classroom exercise, as the classroom should not be an actively hostile space for people with underprivileged identities.”
From the questions posed to the class about the topic, it was pretty clear the professor did not agree that homosexuality is immoral. No matter — universities are now expected to be debate- and discussion-free zones.
The professor was not found to have discriminated against anyone, but a member of the BRT met with him to “have a conversation … [and] listen to his perspective, share the impact created for the student and dialogue about options to strengthen his teaching.”
Because one student in one class was offended, the professor has to change his teaching method. What it means is that our institutions of higher learning are no longer run by adults.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.