Professors at Washington State University warned students in their syllabi not to say the words “illegal aliens,” “illegals,” or to refer to men and women as males and females. One professor also warned students to “defer to the experiences of people of color” while mocking “insensitive whites” like Glenn Beck.
Selena Lester Breikss threatened, in her “Women & Culture” syllabus, to remove students from the classroom if they used a word she didn’t like:
Gross generalizations, stereotypes, and derogatory/oppressive language are not acceptable. Use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated. (This includes “The Man,” “Colored People,” “Illegals/Illegal Aliens,” “Tranny” and so on – or referring to women/men as females or males) If I see it or hear it, I will correct it in class since it can be a learning moment for many students. Repeated use of oppressive and hateful language will be handled accordingly – including but not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and – in extreme cases – failure for the semester.
Likewise, Rebecca Fowler told students that their grades will suffer if they submit a paper with the phrase “illegal aliens” in it:
A Note on [In]appropriate Terminology: Don’t use it.
• Not “colored” person/s/people but “people of color.”
• Not “the white man” but “white men,” “white males,” or “white society”
• Not “illegal alien” or “illegals” but “undocumented” migrants/immigrants/persons. Note that the Associated Press (AP) has determined not to use it: ‘The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.’
• If you use the above terms in your writing, your grade will suffer a deduction of one point per incident.
Fowler’s insistence on saying “undocumented” is to force her students to mouth obvious lies. Illegal aliens aren’t “undocumented”: They engage in rampant identity theft. Stealing American babies’ Social Security numbers isn’t a victimless crime.
Not to be outdone, John Streamas repeatedly bashed whites in his syllabus, starting with a definition of “racism” that expands indictment while removing intent.
“Ruth Wilson Gilmore defines racism as ‘the state-sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death’—which is surely different from any definition we were taught by our schools and the media,” Streamas wrote, presumably after putting on his tinfoil hat. “We have been conditioned to define racism as a product of personal hatred, but Gilmore says that it comes from institutions, and it is exploitative (ie, it makes a profit for the institutions), and it renders victims vulnerable to premature death.”
His course, “Introduction to Multicultural Literature,” explains that white supremacists push authors like William Shakespeare, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and the like to justify white supremacy.
“Conservative skeptics wonder why we need to study ‘multicultural’ texts, suggesting that the only criterion for selecting books should be literary excellence,” he writes. “The conservative notion is flawed by the very fact that it is advanced by white people who just happen to think that the very best books and ideas come from white people—they have an investment in proving themselves superior.” That, or one enjoys Jane Austen for the repartee and romance, not out of a desire to oppress other races.
Streamas continues to lay out his “course policies” and “community standards”: “Consider others’ views. Reflect on your own social location, your privileges and power. Learn a historically informed definition of racism, and challenge all racist discourse. Reflect your grasp of history and social relations by respecting shy and quiet classmates, and by deferring to the experiences of people of color.” In other words, his white students can expect to be scolded in class for their “white privilege” if they express a view that contradicts the professor’s or non-white classmates’ arguments.
“Finally, understand and consider the rage of people who are victims of systematic injustice. James Baldwin wrote that people of color have an obligation to feel rage over this nation’s history of racism. If injustice does not fill you with rage, then perhaps you should ask yourself why.” Answer: Because you’re a terrible, awful, no good privileged person.
Steamas cleverly heads off students claiming they can’t complete assignments because it triggers them too much:
In our books we may read some words or phrases that will be, to some sensibilities, coarse or vulgar or racist. By themselves, no “mere” words are offensive. What makes a word vulgar or racist is its usage by a particular speaker in a particular context. Insensitive whites such as Glenn Beck complain that, for example, they are not allowed to say the “n” word without being labeled racist but that black men use it among themselves all the time. To “earn” the right to that word, Beck must first endure 500 years of racism.
Steamas toned it down for his syllabi: He called a College Republican a “white shitbag” in 2006, and when called in for a meeting to explain himself, instead left a voicemail ranting that Washington State University “is a racist university” and WSU stands for “White Supremacy University.”
As Campus Reform noted, several professors are trying to outdo one another in the social justice department, demanding students repeat that “institutionalized forms of oppression exist” and that America is not a “post-racial society.” This appears to have set off alarm bells with the administration. The president issued a statement assuring tuition-paying parents their children won’t be punished for offending a professor:
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.
Washington State University is public and funded in part by taxpayers. Only 67 percent of its students manage to graduate in six years.
Email Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @k_mcq.