The American public university's war on words has entered a new phase: the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will soon move from "passive" programming to the more sinister sounding "active programming": conversations, facilitated by the administration, that see to limit offensive speech.
Think UW-Milwaukee is being a tad too politically correct? You too might run afoul of the administration, since complaining about "political correctness" is now considered a microaggression, according to the university's ironically-named Inclusive Excellence Center.
The university's website complains that "PC has become a way to deflect, say that people are becoming too sensitive, and police language." Yes, a web page designed for the sole purpose of discouraging offensive speech is now complaining that its critics are actually the ones policing language.
UW cites the work of Dr. Derald Wing Sue as inspiring its efforts. But Sue recently expressed concern that universities were taking his ideas too far.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's Ari Cohn told Heat Street that UW should be careful:
"While universities are free to educate students about the impact of certain words or language and encourage them to consider that while speaking to one another, such efforts must be strictly aspirational," Cohn said. "A university that engages in a campaign like this must be careful and make clear to students that no administrative or disciplinary action will be taken against those who do not agree or comply with the universities views."
Universities can criticize language they deem offensive, but their students have every right to go on ignoring them.