Ithaca College To Create Anonymous System For Students To Report “Microaggressions” From Members Of A “Privileged Group”…
I’m guessing “privileged group” means white males.
Via The Fire:
Early last week, the Ithaca College Student Government Association passed a resolution to create an anonymous, online system for students to report “microaggressions” on campus. FIRE has closely monitored the bill’s progress, as its language presents obvious problems for freedom of expression at the private New York college.
First, the measure resolves to create a “school-wide online system to report microaggressions”—but does not define the term “microaggressions.” This glaring lack of clarity is deeply troubling. Without a stable understanding of what a microaggression is or is not, students run the risk of being reported for speech that crosses an invisible line, drawn by and known only to the offended listener. Of course, the inherent subjectivity of microaggressions is an even bigger problem, and the squirrely elasticity of the term makes the lack of clear definition all but unavoidable. One student’s microaggression is another’s earnest attempt to discuss different life experiences. The chill on student speech would be severe. In fact, chilling speech appears to be the point; as one supporter of the bill told The Ithacan student newspaper, “Just like any other resolution that we want to pass with microaggression and diversity in the institution, what it does is it helps to make people think a little more before they do or say something.”
If the bill had included a definition, the threat to free expression would likely be clearer still. In an interview with The Ithaca Voice, one of the bill’s authors defined microaggressions as “statements by a person from a privileged group that belittles or isolates a member of an unprivileged group, as it relates to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and more.” This is an unequivocal attempt to police speech, and it only prompts more questions: What groups are privileged or unprivileged? Who decides? What makes a statement “belittling” or “isolating”? Who decides? What other class statuses might make a student a member of an unprivileged group? Who decides? Again, the inescapable subjectivity of the term means that student expression is only as safe as the most sensitive student on campus allows it to be, however unreasonable his or her determination.