Thursday, August 24, 2006

Marquette’s Training of Freshman Orientation Staff: Politically Correct Boot Camp

An e-mail from a student who has, this past week, been training to be Group Discussion Leader during Freshman Orientation, which is currently taking place. It was conducted by the Orientation staff, from the Office of Student Development.

Here is what happened on Monday night (August 21st).

There was a teambuilding activity that was to take the ideas and themes discussed during another activity the previous evening. That activity was called “Building an Inclusive Community.” That activity was meant for us to brainstorm how to be inclusive of all people (meaning not offending anyone) so they won’t feel left out, marginalized, etc. But the conversation that night moved to “who has advantages in society/in the Marquette community?” One girl said “White, heterosexual males.” And essentially the entire group agreed. The discussion that night ended.

The way Duane Bruce introduced Monday night’s activity was, we are going to take last night’s discussion a little further and deeper.

Duane and the other student leaders had us line up on the teal strip of carpet in the AMU Ballrooms. He told us that we would take a step forward (or back) based on the statement he would read. For example, he would read: “Take a step back if you are a victim of a hate crime.” “Take a step forward if your parents went to college.” “Take a step forward if you went to a private school.” “Take a step back if you are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual.” “Take a step forward if your religion’s holidays are celebrated openly in public.” After 30-40 statements, everyone was scattered throughout the room. At the end, Duane said something to the effect, “To those sitting in the front, you are living the American Dream.” And said the opposite equivalent in order to address the people sitting in the back. Basically the activity exposed “privileged” and who was “underprivileged.”

The OStaff Leadership said that the activity was to help us not make assumptions based on outward appearances. And they also said this was not to make us feel guilty, but how could someone sitting in the front help from feeling guilty? These statements exposed all material-based aspects of us. Most students reactions were (to paraphrase) “Seeing this just makes me hate society.” Another student lamented about how there are so much inequality within the Marquette Community. She said it was unfair that not everyone could afford to go on M.A.P. trips or study abroad. Another girl said that people in the front don’t have to work as hard as people in the back.

As someone who was sitting in the very front, I was deeply offended. I do not need to be told I am “lucky” or “privileged.” I can understand myself that I am blessed with opportunities, and I do not need to be told I do not work hard. I excel far more academically than most of that staff through hard work and diligence. I hold jobs in the summer to help pay for my expenses. I am involved in many student groups at school so I can work harder to become a more well-rounded person. It seems it is okay to ridicule the “privileged, wealthier” students, but it would be atrocious to act the same towards “marginalized, poor” students. This activity victimized people, which only fosters the divisions that these people are claiming they are trying to dissolve.

I spoke up towards the end. I told them that I disagreed with Duane’s statement about the American Dream.

(Though I said something different, I think that the American Dream is a sort of a rags-to-riches sort of story. I have construed it to be that you work as hard as you can to get where you are, whether or not you have material things by birth/default.)

I explained to them that my dad - who was the first one to go to college, who commuted to school, who worked three jobs to pay for his education (his parents paid $100 total) - worked as hard as he did so his children would not have to go through what he did to succeed. He wanted to make the problems he had to deal with nonexistent for me. He would be sitting further back had he participated. My parents had an ironing board for their kitchen table because they couldn’t afford one. And now, 30 years later, they made decisions and pooled their talents and resources to send me and my two brothers to first-rate, Catholic, private grade schools, high schools, and colleges (the last part I did not share with the group). I was quickly shut down by a black girl sitting farther back. She said her parents were also the first ones to go to college, but since she has been discriminated by her race, she is sitting farther back. She insinuated that my parents struggles and triumphs are less valuable because of race.

Duane said we didn’t have to participate if we didn’t want to. I could have abstained from taking steps forward/back, but I could not have avoided listening to this leftist political indoctrination and being potentially socially ostracized. I did not push my point further because they would have jumped all over me. As someone with often dissenting views, I do not feel I can contribute to the group because I will have serious social consequences if I would. The group advocates that we are not supposed to judge based on looks and appearances. They certainly fulfill that. But they do judge (quite harshly) and discriminate those based on opinions, an aspect of someone that is more substantive and important than race, ethnicity, sex, etc.

That activity alone made me not want to rejoin OStaff, and at times made me regret reapplying. I care about helping the freshmen just as much as the next person on staff. This is why I volunteer a lot of time, effort, and energy into my participation in the program. I love orientation but dread and despise training. I do not want to have to feel personally and politically violated for three straight days just so I can help ease the transition for incoming students. OStaff is going to have to do without me next year.

This, of course, is standard politically correct indoctrination, in which the “privileged” are supposed to feel guilty (and acquiesce in every liberal policy proposal, no matter how ill considered) and the “oppressed” are supposed to feel aggrieved.

Rather than being “inclusive,” it exalts politically correct minorities (gays, blacks, Hispanics) and demeans white, middle-class kids, especially if they are conservative.

Consider, for a moment, the instructions that were not given at this at this Stalinist reeducation session.
  • If you have ever been derided for your religious beliefs, take a step backward
  • If you have ever taken part in a program limited to minorities, take a step forward
  • If you are a Republican, and have ever had a teacher or other authority figure attack Republicans, take a step back
  • If you are a member of a minority group, and could not have gotten into Marquette had you been a white with your test scores and high school grades, take a step forward
  • If you have ever been derided for saying that you don’t intend to have sex until marriage, take a step back
  • If you have ever been called a “homophobe,” take a step back
As these examples make clear, the point that the Office of Student Development is pushing is not “inclusiveness.” It’s pushing a divisive doctrine that says that the worth of a student is based on race, income, family background, religion and political views.

And that, indeed, is the essence of political correctness.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stalinist? While I agree that the training was strange and I typically feel awkward and uncomfortable when I am asked to participate in these types of exercises, it was not Stalinist.

"they also said this was not to make us feel guilty, but how could someone sitting in the front help from feeling guilty" - this qualifies as Stalinist?

"I was deeply offended" - Stalinist?

Someone is out of touch with history.

This type of exaggeration does not help the conservative cause. It pushes possible supporters away because it is inaccurate and it makes you appear out of touch with reality. This is the type of exaggeration which makes it possible for Stephen Colbert to have a television show that spoofs the inaccurate and out of touch (O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Sykes) conservative that does not represent the majority of us.
Most of the student's e-mail seems whiny, the type of whine I expect from a liberal. I think it is appropriate to borrow a phrase from Jeff Wagner and suggest to her "Get a helmet".
This goes for everyone, conservative and liberal: Stop concerning yourselves about phantom oppression. Minorities are rarely discriminated against and neither are white people. Take responsibility for who you are. There are other minorities and white people in a similar situations who are able to achieve what they want to achieve because they are intelligent enough to use human qualities of resourcefulness and ingenuity to achieve what they want.

10:12 AM  

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