Here's how one University of Southern California student handled an awkward moment: She complained to the professor, filed a Title IX report when the professor declined to spend an entire class period litigating the matter, dropped the course entirely, and then launched a petition demanding that everyone who offended her be forced to undergo racial sensitivity training.
Loring was completing group work with some other students in her Learning 525 class last September when someone typed a thoughtless and racially problematic answer into a shared document. The group had been asked to consider how to increase "the number of women of color who receive prenatal care," and another student wrote, "sterilize them" and "take away their babies at birth." It's not clear whether this student—a white female student—was serious about this; as Loring would later write in her petition to the college, "the white female student admitted she had written the comments and then deleted them, stating her group, which included her and two latinx women, did not 'agree' with the comments, but had offered them as a possible solution, as that was their understanding of the exercise."
Loring demanded that the instructor, Dr. Kimberly Hirabayashi, address the matter. Dr. Hirabayashi obliged, but not to Loring's satisfaction, According to Loring:
I said I did not think we should move on, and stated I was stunned by the inappropriate and offensive nature of the comments, given the socio-historical context of sterilization and separating families as tools of oppression and genocide, as well as the saliency of current immigration policies separating children from their parents. Several other students also expressed their discomfort with the comments. A white male student defended the students who had written the comments, stating there was no ill intention. The instructor took a diplomatic stance, stating she wanted to maintain a comfortable learning environment, and repeatedly emphasized that no one should feel blamed. At her invitation, I met with Dr. Hirabayashi prior to the next class meeting and requested she bring resolve to the incident by acknowledging the comments as inappropriate and holding the students accountable. She then proceeded to open class with a vague statement about the incident, at no point addressing the comments directly. She then redirected the focus to the day's lesson plan: a case study surrounding the disproportionately high pregnancy-related mortality rates of women of color. The incident was thus not only left without resolution, it was magnified.
Loring ultimately dropped the class and filed a complaint with the university's Title IX office, which ostensibly handles sexual misconduct. She also launched a petition that calls on the university to mandate critical race theory training for Dr. Hirabayashi, the students involved in the group work, and all first-year students in the school of education. The petition has been signed by more than 800 people, last I checked.
This incident is a strong example of a phenomenon I've noticed among aggrieved leftist students: immediate, constant appeals to authority. It was not enough for the professor to briefly address what was an admittedly stupid move by a fellow classmate—according to this activist, the very curriculum of the education program should be rewritten so as to make offensive statements not merely unutterable, but unthinkable in the first place. And while anyone can make a petition about anything, the Title IX process is a powerful tool for formal adjudication of problematic speech and conduct.
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