WSU faculty will lower students’ grades or even fail them for saying WHAT? *UPDATE*

WSU faculty will lower students’ grades or even fail them for saying WHAT? *UPDATE*

In these politically correct times, students at the nation’s colleges need to maintain a constant state of vigilance if they are to avoid incurring the wrath of the gods of present-day academe. Take the hapless souls who matriculate at Washington State University and dare to utter one of the terms “male,” “female,” or “illegal alien.” They risk losing one point off their grade average for each usage in one course, while another professor will flunk them outright for their sins. There is even one members of the who will impose a penalty on white students who fail to “defer” to “people of color.”

Campus Reform has the particulars:

According to the syllabus for Selena Lester Breikss’ “Women & Popular Culture” class, students risk a failing grade if they use any common descriptors that Breikss considers “oppressive and hateful language.”

The punishment for repeatedly using the banned words, Breikss warns, includes “but [is] not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and— in extreme cases— failure for the semester.”

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Much like in Selena Breikss’s classroom, students taking Professor Rebecca Fowler’s “Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies” course will see their grades suffer if they use the term “illegal alien” in their assigned writing.

According to her syllabus, students will lose one point every time they use the words “illegal alien” or “illegals” rather than the preferred terms of “‘undocumented’ migrants/immigrants/persons.” Throughout the course, Fowler says, students will “come to recognize how white privilege functions in everyday social structures and institutions.”

Give Fowler credit, if grudgingly. At least she is not perpetuating the myth that all people who sneak across our borders are gainfully employed — a state of affairs suggested by the even more ludicrous euphemism “undocumented worker.”

Several other WSU professors require their students to “acknowledge that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and other institutionalized forms of oppression exist” or that “we do not live in a post-racial world.”

A point of irony raised by the Campus Reform author is a caveat in the syllabus of one course to the effect that “the subject material of this class is sensitive and controversial. Strive to keep an open mind.” It seems fair to say the faculty at Washington State University wouldn’t know an open mind if it fell on them.

*UPDATE* Controversy over the policies of faculty members highlighted in this story prompted the president of Washington State University to release a statement reaffirming the school’s commitment to free speech. From the statement:

Over the weekend, we became aware that some faculty members, in the interest of fostering a constructive climate for discussion, included language in class syllabi that has been interpreted as abridging students’ free speech rights. We are working with these faculty members to clarify, and in some cases modify, course policies to ensure that students’ free speech rights are recognized and protected. No student will have points docked merely as a result of using terms that may be deemed offensive to some. Blanket restriction of the use of certain terms is not consistent with the values upon which this university is founded.

Free speech and a constructive climate for learning are not incompatible. We aim to cultivate diversity of expression while protecting individual rights and safety.

(h/t Katherine Timpf, NRO)


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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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