University Hires Staff to Spy on Students, Confront Politically Incorrect Comments
Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., has hired six students whose jobs as “dialogue facilitators” will involve intervening in conversations among students in dining halls and common rooms to encourage discussion of such social justice issues as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability and social class.We would certainly hope so.
“If there’s a teachable moment, we’ll take it,” said assistant dean of student affairs Arig Girgrah, who runs the program. “A lot of community building happens around food and dining.”
She gave the example of a conversation about a gay character on television as a good example of such a moment.
“It is all about creating opportunities to dialogue and reflect on issues of social identity,” Ms. Girgrah said. “This is not about preaching. It’s not about advice giving. It’s about hearing where students are at.”
Jason Laker, dean of student affairs, said their activities will also include formal discussion sessions, perhaps after controversial incidents in residence, and open discussions of topical books or movies.
“They’re not disciplinarians. They’re called facilitators for a reason,” he said, adding that such a program is of particular value now that so much communication by young people happens over the Internet.
“It’s not trying to stifle something. It’s trying to foster something,” he said. “We’re not trying to be parental.”
“We are trained to interrupt behaviour in a non-blameful and non-judgmental manner, so it’s not like we’re pulling someone aside and reprimanding them about their behaviour. It is honestly trying to get to the root of what they’re trying to say - seeing if that can be said in a different manner.”
Touting the Intergroup Dialogue Program as “unique among Canadian universities,” but modelled on programs in the United States, an administration newsletter says it will promote “a lasting experience of inclusive community and shared humanity.”
It is just one of many recent efforts to promote diversity - such as gender-neutral washrooms, prayer space, and halal and kosher food service - at a school that is still smarting from a report on systemic racism two years ago that criticized its “culture of whiteness.”
The editorial board of the student newspaper, the Queen’s Journal, acknowledged the good intentions of this latest effort, but was skeptical of a program that “seems to be an inadequate, lack lustre attempt to deal with social inequalities.”
“It’s unlikely six facilitators in a crowd of thousands will have much impact on fostering dialogue in residences,” they write, adding that the facilitators could face “hostility” from students who feel they have been “cornered” or had their privacy violated.
We wonder whether anybody is being fooled by the rhetoric about being “non-blameful and non-judgmental.” Maybe the administrators who concocted this scheme believe their own rhetoric.
Nobody else will be fooled. As the National Post said editorially:
Just who is Queen’s University trying to kid? The school may call its new political-correctness cops “facilitators.” It may insist they will not be eavesdropping on private conservations, “preaching” to students they overhear using “offending terms,” serving as “disciplinarians” or being judgmental. But administrators are simply deluding themselves with euphemisms if they swallow their own tripe. The half-dozen speech monitors employed by Queen’s dean of student affairs to wander campus and listen for mentions of racist, sexist, homophobic or other “non-inclusive” language, are nothing more than thought police.But since when have college administrators cared about the standards of a free society?
The simple act of determining what terms are and are not “offending” is judgmental. Singling students out for “a respectful and educational dialogue” about how their “derogatory terminology” might lead to “marginalization or exclusion” of identifiable groups is the epitome of judgmentalism. Intruding on students’ chats with dorm mates or interrupting their joke telling in the cafeteria is the very definition of eavesdropping, even if Queen’s wants to insist it is not.
The facilitators’ job is to enforce ideas the administration finds acceptable and silence those it finds objectionable, even if the facilitators’ manner and tone is always to be “gentle.” An iron fist in a velvet glove remains an iron fist.
Regardless of how many of these “student-facilitator interactions” end “on a positive note,” their purpose is clear -- intimidation of those whose thoughts do not conform. No doubt being able to put a stint as a Queen’s University “intergroup facilitator” on one’s resume will be a great help in finding employment as a human rights commission investigator after graduation, since both positions require a badly warped sense of free speech and how to protect it.
Facilitators are the new social busybodies. Such speech and thought police have no place in a free society, but particularly not on a university campus.