Debate Magazine

Rutgers Students Are Told They Should Only Speak When ‘necessary’ Because Otherwise They Might Offend Classmates with ‘microaggressions’

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

Pajama Boy approved.


From Daily Mail: Students at Rutgers University have been advised to use language that is ‘kind’ and ‘necessary’ and avoid offensive terms such as ‘retarded’ and ‘that’s so ghetto’ so that they don’t commit ‘microaggressions’.

A bulletin board, titled ‘Language Matters: Think’, has been put on display in at least one hall of residence on the campus, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, telling them to question whether their choice of words is ‘true’ and ‘helpful’.

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Failure to follow the guidelines could give rise to microaggressions – ‘little things that have a big impact’ – which fall into three categories: microassaults, microinsults and microinvalidations.

Microassault includes avoiding someone; a microinsult could be saying someone is ‘strong for a girl’; and a microinvalidation might involve asking an Asian or Latino person where they are from, Campus Reform reported.

The display was placed in the College Avenue Apartments by a resident assistant, according to a resident who does not wish to be identified.

Even though microaggressions are ‘not the same thing as hate crimes or overt bigotry,’ they still affect victims ‘physically, emotionally, [and] behaviorally,’ placing them ‘more at risk for illness & decreased immune system,’ the display reads.

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News of the sign’s message has prompted a backlash from several online commentators.

One wrote: ‘Back when Maoist China was going through this, we’d point and laugh… and now it’s here.’

Another said: ‘Incoming students should consider a Life Alert alarm necklace, which will summon the Bias Prevention Education Team guards in the event of microdamage to a physical, emotional or behavioral psyche.’

Meanwhile, one commenter wrote: ‘So some over-sensitive snowflake’s interpretation of “bad thoughts” is going to drive the conversation? Suck it up, buttercup, you are going to have a long, hard life.’ And another: ‘Why not just order mandatory lobotomies for all college students and be done with it?’

The bulletin board also contains a flyer from the Language Matters campaign, an initiative launched by the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities in the 2015 fall semester.

The flyer lists phrases that could cause offense such as, ‘he looks like a terrorist’ to someone who is ‘a United States veteran;’ or ‘that’s so ghetto’ near somebody who ‘grew up in poverty’; and saying an ‘exam just raped me’ in the presence of ‘a survivor of sexual assault’.

The potentially insulting terms were taken from a similar list which formed part of the University of Maryland’s ‘Inclusive Language Campaign’.  Rutgers also has a Bias Prevention Education team that handles such incidents. Other US universities that have a policy for reporting microaggressions include the University of California, Penn State, Ithaca, Wesleyan and Columbia.


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