A disaffected staff member at Smith College complains about its obsession with race, makes a video that will doom her

Here’s a 10½-minute video produced by an extraordinarily courageous woman bucking the wokeness of her employer, Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.  This is the first of several videos promised by staff member Jodie Shaw, an alum who works as a student support coordinator. Her picture has disappeared from the staff page—only the first step in the inevitable demonization that will happen to her. She is toast: after just this video—the first one—she will be shunned, harassed, and, ultimately, will have to resign because she’ll have nothing to do (they can’t fire her).  She’ll never be able to get a job at another college.

Shaw doesn’t try to hide her name or her background, and she’s suffering from a common malaise: race exhaustion. Smith is one of the wokest American colleges, something that seems to correlate positively with the prestige and priciness of a college. (Smith is very prestigious and very expensive.)  Shaw, a “lifelong liberal”, has had enough of the obsessiveness of her college—or at least about her job—with matters of race.

The upshot: Shaw made this video because she feels put upon and unvalued, apparently because the only “value” Smith sees in her is a negative one—her whiteness. She would like to be valued not by her ethnicity but by the quality of her work, her deeds, or her character, but it isn’t happening.

She’s apparently speaking for other Smith staff members who don’t have her courage to speak out. A short excerpt:

“I ask that Smith College stop reducing my personhood to a racial category. Stop telling me what I should think and feel about myself. . . Stop presuming to know who I am or what my culture is based upon my skin color because you don’t know that. You don’t know that about anybody, except for yourself. Stop asking me to project stereotypes and assumptions upon other based on their skin color. . . Stop telling me that young women or color have no power or agency in this world, because that’s not true. Stop telling me that young white women have power and privilege over everyone else, because that’s equally not true.  . .  Stop demanding that I admit that I admit to white privilege and work on my so-called implicit bias as a condition of my continued employment.”

I’d imagine that required training in implicit bias—and I’m guessing that Smith does require that for staff—would drive anyone to exasperation.

Smith didn’t waste any time in responding. Shaw’s video went up on October 27, and the College responded, in a public letter from President Kathleen McCartney, two days later. Here’s McCartney’s letter:

I have to say that this is an extraordinarily insensitive letter given Shaw’s sincere, even timid, video. What McCartney’s letter says to me is basically, “Well, we can’t fire Shaw (but we would if we could), but we’ll ignore her (she’s an outlier, after all), and reassure those students of color who feel harmed by this video that they have our wholehearted support.” The letter buttresses Shaw’s claim that, at Smith, whiteness is an undesirable trait compared to skin of color.

Now imagine if a black staff member produced the same video—and they could easily have done so, just substituting the word “black” for “white”. In all other respects, such a staff member could also complain that they were undervalued because of their skin color, that their achievements weren’t appreciated, and so on. If that happened, you can bet that Smith College would reach out and support that employee big time. There is no support at all for Jodie Shaw. Even though she’s speaking for several people too afraid to join her, she has a legitimate grievance, but Smith will ignore her.  It’s clear they’d be delighted if she left.  In other words, the College’s reaction simply supports Shaw’s indictment.

I’m not sure what prompted Shaw to make this video, and I’ll be curious to see what she says in the subsequent ones. I do admire her for speaking up, but her downfall seems to me inevitable. I can’t imagine she’s a bigot, or riddled with implicit bias, but Smith College, apparently through its monomaniacal obsession with race and with the denigration of “whiteness”, has made her look that way to others, and has eroded her own self image. One would think that colleges would care about that, but you’d be wrong.

 

Thanks to the several people who sent me this video.

77 thoughts on “A disaffected staff member at Smith College complains about its obsession with race, makes a video that will doom her

    1. She is a brave, articulate woman with strong character. I think she will find a company that appreciate her. Perhaps, I am kidding my self but I think she will end up better off. If had a company in the area, I would find a job for her.

    2. She has ‘threatened’ to produce subsequent videos, and to organize fellow non-woke miscreants. Her “signing-off” hand gesture was a direct provocation and probably used by…

      The university will find a way.

  1. If the US wants to continue its dominant position in scientific research (the less said about the soi-disant humanities the better!) it had better start establishing a network of independent research institutes along the lines of the Max Planck Institutes in Germany, which would be generously funded and kept totally free of ideological oversight, and whose only criterion for success would be achieving results of the highest level of significance per strictly scientific standards internationally. Left to academia, the investigation of nature will descend to the quality of Lysenkoism and the ‘German physics’ of the 1930s and 40s…

    1. A small remark: The correct description is “Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science”. It maintains several national and international institutes and research groups.

      Another well-known societes are the Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres or Leibniz Association.

      1. Scientific standards and honesty in Soviet Biology found some safety from Lysenkoist orthodoxy under the wing of other labels. Genetics in some places sheltered under the wing of Radiobiology, in some places under Cytology, Physiology, or Biochemistry. Remote locations also helped, such as the research institutes of the Akademgorodok near Novosibirsk in Siberia.

        Perhaps science in general in the USA will have to move out of the universities, and into separate research institutes, perhaps in out-of-the-way places such as Alaska, Puerto Rico, Santa Catalina Island, or the Great Dismal Swamp.

    2. I doubt you can have diversity as your highest value and keep being excellent at the same time. Not in a world with East Asians.

      The US has long had an abysmally unfair admissions system at elite universities. Germany’s is much stricter, but also more just. This is a country where until recently, universities took pride in high dropout rates.

      Why then is US science ahead of Europe? My guess is that the higher salaries in academia allow for better recruitment of talent from abroad. Having 2% Jews in the population is also a great asset.

      Unless you want to bet that the culture of the Chinese is somehow inferior and prevents them from having original insights, there is little doubt that China will dominate science in the following decades. The COVID crisis already shows how countries like the UK and the US have fallen behind the likes of Taiwan and Singapore.

  2. The business world saying “the customer is always right” seems to be at work here — the paying customers being the students’ families.

  3. Shaw is a very brave to have done this. I am sure we will hear of her being harassed, possibly at home, and ultimately driven from her job. I think McCartney is wrong to say that Shaw’s does not speak “for any part of the college.” Obviously, Shaw speaks for herself, and, while others understandably might not have come forward, that should be enough for her to be treated respectfully. Shaw’s claim to equal justice is also the reason that the Wokiees are so outraged by our legal regime, which gets in the way of their racial justice.

    1. McCartney is just expressing a dimension of the Kalven principles, as I read her. This individual (Shaw) is not speaking for the English department, for example.

      There is nothing wrong with McCartney’s response. It defends Shaw’s freedom of speech, and expresses McCartney’s and Smith College’s in turn.

      1. You don’t see implicit in McCartney’s letter a warning (also a dog whistle to the troops); “nice job you have there, it’d be a shame if anything should happen to it”?

      2. Well, there’s nothing wrong with it if you think it’s OK to run an educational institution like a totalitarian political regime. Her letter is a study in cowardice and hypocrisy, conceived in Doublethink and written in the same flavour of Newspeak as all the other CRT nonsense is. She’s a duplicitous waste of space, parroting diversity but making clear that everyone: leaders, faculty, staff, and students MUST show blind, unquestioning loyalty and unfaltering obeyance to the same ideology. An ideology that, 50 odd years after MLK, fetishizes skin colour, and does its best to ignore a person’s character and individuality.
        This woman is NOT a leader. She’s only willing to represent those with the correct political views. How is that different to Trump and his disdain for Democrats? She has a duty of care to this woman, who must have been pretty desperate to do what she has done. But rather than offer any support McArtney singles her out, effectively paving the way for an internet pile on. That is exactly what the egregious Cheeto in chief would do.
        No system of thought deserves respect if it cannot be questioned or even discussed. In her statement McArtney makes it abundantly clear that questioning her position on CRT is verboten. So WHY is this OK? An ideology that distinguishes individuals based primarily on their skin pigmentation. How can there be nothing wrong in enforcing compliance with that? And why the hell have we ended up here in 2020? It’s nuts.

  4. McCartney could have said something like

    “Although I disagree with her opinion about the value of antiracism training, I fully support all Smith College community members in expressing their views about these important and complex subjects. You go girl!”

    Instead she grudgingly admits that she can’t fire this unperson because “The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in…speech with respect to workplace conditions.”

    It’s like Shaw’s free speech rights are an unfortunate technicality. Jeez.

  5. The Woke people make me sad. They are naive, I think, unable to recognize how complex reality really is. Every time I encounter Wokism, I remember Bod Dylan’s voice singing, “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

  6. I don’t know anything about Smith College or their policies, so I won’t comment on that. I mostly agreed with her until around 6 or so minutes into this video where she states that she is a human being and that she feels that her whiteness has been too important to the college. She feels like she’s less important because of her whiteness. She lost me at this point. People of color (generally speaking) have had to live their entire lives as a secondary citizen. She experienced this feeling for three years at Smith College. Perhaps it was an experience that she needed to have in order to understand what people of color live through their entire lives. They generally receive lower pay for the same job, and lower status in the hierarchy in corporate positions.

    I understood her issue with constantly reminding minorities that they are disadvantaged in our white system. In some cases this can be a hindrance to those who easily give up and accept “their place in society.” But, to say that it is untrue that people of color don’t have the same opportunities or privileges as their white counterpart is WRONG. Minorities don’t all have the opportunity to be people of influence like Oprah.

    I stopped listening to the video as she began to complain about her whiteness becoming an issue. She is probably correct in that her whiteness did become an issue at Smith, but I don’t think she realized just how obtuse her complaint was.

    1. Her complaint is not obtuse at all. She wants to be judged as a person, not as an avatar.

      If her employer is dehumanizing her, it’s to her great credit that she has spoken up.

      Unless you opine that a kind racially-based revenge, by guilty whites, is what this Smith employee, a very courageous employee, deserves because of her skin color.

    2. But remember that we’re talking about students at Smith, who are already privileged and entitled to be at such an expensive and high quality school, regardless of their race. I strongly suspect that there is virtually no racism at Smith, and also that those black students who graduate from Smith have every opportunity in the world, if not more, than their white counterparts. Remember that every job and college in America is looking for quality minority candidates.

      The purpose of college is not social engineering, so “implicit bias” training and the like should only be needed if there is evidence of “structural racism” at Smith. I strongly doubt that there is. I’m sorry, but I don’t see the purpose of a university is to inculcate its members with the idea that all white people at the school are racist and all black people are oppressed. That’s just not the case at Smith.

      1. Yes I agree. American colleges and universities are some of the least racist places and communities on the planet.

        As I learned from Sastra at this site, the woke at colleges use a common rhetorical device to argue for antiracism training at their institutions: they use two versions of the argument, one that is true but trivial and a second that is profound but false. They say that anti-Black racism has terrible consequences. This argument is true but trivial (wrt the argument about what to do about it at colleges – I don’t mean that anti-Black racism itself is trivial). Then they say that anti-Black racism must be opposed on college campuses. This is profound but false (because there is so little evidence of the kind of anti-Black racism on colleges that can be easily found in less enlightened parts of the culture and society).

    3. I don’t think that she is wrong to complain about her whiteness being an issue. Just because others have suffered because of their skin-color doesn’t mean that it is right to turn around and discriminate against others, especially when there is not evidence that they have engaged in discrimination. (Although the theories of anti-racism being used assume that we all have discrimination.)

    4. Irena Schulz, you lost her at 6:00 when she complains of being prejudged by skin color?? Because POC have been prejudged by skin color for longer?? But some of us think it was and is WRONG to judge POC (or anyone) by skin color. When did that become right? Your comment is an apt reminder that the real battle isnt’t “wokes vs white supremacists” but “wokes vs liberals” (with white supremacists as a group that is marginal but politically useful to all sides). I, like Shaw, take the liberal side on this one.

    5. People of color (generally speaking) have had to live their entire lives as a secondary citizen.

      Where are you talking about? I know its not America post-LBJ. Are you talking about China? The plight of Chinese-Malays in Malaysia? The Hutus in Rwanda?

      Since we are all skeptics and unbelievers, how exactly do you empirically measure something like the prevalence of “opportunity”?

      I think if you weight SAT scores to admission rates in selective colleges, it certainly is true that Asians are deeply disadvantaged relative to other “people of color” in “opportunity”. But that is my proposed measure.

      Please define how you measure “opportunity” and what your data is that supports your claims. . . or, if it is based on Holy Authority, please let me know which one, Jesus, Muhammad, Karl Marx?

      Is it not interesting that revealed truths are true primarily (and only) based on social pressure to conform? Could it be that they are so ridiculous even the slightest questioning or rational criticism causes them to look ridiculous?

  7. That Shaw could deliver her message in such a sensible and restrained manner is quite admirable. Unfortunately, this probably guarantees her a spot on the chopping block, as her earnestness makes her a greater threat to her employer’s agenda.

  8. Stop telling me what I should think and feel about myself. . . Stop presuming to know who I am or what my culture is based upon my skin color

    It’s positively Orwellian to see a “liberal” university administration say they oppose this.

  9. What the authorities are saying in their letter to all is: You have the freedom to criticize all you want but we will not hear you.

  10. This is how the progressives lose any hope of political power. Even if Biden wins, if the Left can’t control its extremists any better than the Right did, and the woke take control of the party, it will be defeated in the next elections.

    I’m not crazy about Biden, at times he even makes me cringe. But he was the safe choice.

  11. Soon, if it hasn’t started already, we will start to see lawsuits filed for the kind of harassment and discrimination that is now about to fall on Ms Shaw, like an avalanche coming down the mountain.

    McCartney and her henchpersons have created an overtly toxic work environment and Shaw is at risk of violent reprisals, not just discrimination and harassment. McCartney’s letter will be part of the evidence against the school in the coming lawsuit(s).

    It is my guess that schools like Smith won’t stop this racist shit until someone takes a whole lot of money from them.

    It’s going to get much uglier.

  12. Her video is no longer available on Youtube (quelle surprise) but can still be accessed through Jerry’s link. What will be the fate of her further promised videos?

    I would like to see them because I would like to know more of the detail of her complaints. Her opening remarks suggested a social conflict behind the racial one: between the poor local white staff and the globe-trotting wealthy woke crowd (shelling out for tuition in a single semester an amount equal to the average annual salary of these staffers). It sounded a bit like the Oberlin dispute between town and gown erupting inside rather than outside the walls of the institution. One wonders whether that particular conflict, though clothed in the universal racial language of the present moment, might be pretty specific to these high-toned rural lacs.

      1. Very peculiar. I have typed the URL in several times very carefully now on two different computers and each time yields only “Video not available”. I also can’t find any reference to it when I google “Jodi Shaw youtube” (though plenty by a Canadian singer of the same name). Yet I get it fine off your link. Wonder if the problem could be that I am situated in Canada. More likely is that I am a fumble-fingered ignoramus.

      2. I just copied the url link from PCC(E)’s video and pasted it into a search engine and got the video without any problems.

          1. Oops! Up until now I’ve never known what was going on when people apologised for embedding links – consider me suitably chastened!

      3. Her YouTube videos are under the name “Smith College Big Dig”. As of now you can’t find them by searching for Jodi Shaw, either in YouTube or in Google.

        She should try to fix that. People are going to be searching for her.

  13. The subtext of the Smith President’s message is that Jodie Shaw’s restrained protest is unfortunately protected by a technicality, the National Labor Relations Act. Now that the Trump Supreme Court is fully staffed, perhaps that impediment to enforcing correct thinking on all college staff will finally be revoked. After all, the founding fathers in 1787 made no mention of Labor Relations. In 1937, the SCOTUS upheld the Labor Relations Act by a bare 5:4 majority, which might need revisiting by the current Supreme Court.

    It is becoming apparent that the corporate boardroom, the ivory tower administration, and the anti-racist agitprop industry, all have clear convergences of interest. Maybe their alliance will soon become overt.

  14. Yep, employment-wise, she’s toast. I do hope that she has a career move to the civilised world already lined up, but … “a student support coordinator” – oh dear, that sounds likely to be very culture-specific. Not the most transferable of skill-sets.

  15. -I find it strange that the parents of students attending colleges that indoctrinate their children in WOKEness don’t complain to the schools. This garbage is just racism in another form.

  16. I disagree with imagining a reverser racism scenario, because black people have never had more power than white people in almost any scenario. Even if they happen to live or work in a majority-minority location, they would only need to browse the racks in a fancy store in a white area or drive with an expired tag on a road known for drug dealing to be reminded of who they are.

    I seriously doubt that these anti-woke whiners have really known many people of other races closely enough to be able to claim that they don’t have privilege.

    Perhaps the best thing for her would be a job swap in a location where the college is trying to recruit diverse students. Maybe South Boston.

    1. Also, why are people taking these training things personally? Has she never been trained on other things? I’ve never violated FLSA law as a supervisor, but I don’t resent annual training. Consider all the training a large organization would want staff to undergo.

      Personally, I work at a place that could use more training in ethics. I wouldn’t take it personally at all.

        1. I was responding to Ceiling Cat’s reverse racism scenario and the anti-woke/anti-anti-racism echo chamber that imagines white people are victims because sitting through a training session is somehow a crime against humanity.

          1. It doesn’t sound from the video that she’s upset about training. She implies that the students are harassing and abusing the staff, and the administration does nothing to stop it.

            1. I listened to it finally, and yes, she’s upset about the it raining. The secondary issue is that she doesn’t like the reaction she got when she complained about it.

              As to whether a black person in the same position would have been coddled? I maintain that a black person could never be in that position.

              This woman’s interpretation of racial sensitivity training is totally off-base. Of course her employer knows there’s more to who she is than being white. Otherwise she wouldn’t have been hired!

      1. Yes, she probably has been trained in many other subject areas. However, I imagine that for those subjects she wasn’t distinguished then separated from colleagues based on her skin pigmentation.

    2. My public university has scheduled upcoming sensitivity training for faculty members like me. Two of the workshops will be racially segregated: one for BIPOC and one for “allies”.

      I’m not prepared to out myself by linking to the workshop descriptions here. Sorry.

      The two workshops are clearly described and named as complementary to each other, but are prescribed for non-overlapping groups of employees. IDK what the Venn diagram would look like: the workshop for BIPOC is clearly labelled as intended for BIPOC only; it is less clear whether BIPOC could also attend the workshop for “allies”; but it is clear that “allies” cannot attend the BIPOC workshop. Perhaps some shape-shifter like Jessica Krug could do so.

      The workshop descriptions imply that the BIPOC workshop is meant to create a safe space for camaraderie and sharing and mutual support (but these good vibes are to be shared among BIPOC only), while the description of the workshop for “allies” emphasizes negative feelings and emotions, and is clearly meant to change attitudes and beliefs. It is also made clear that the content and activities will be different and the goals will not be the same for the two workshops.

      Implicit in these two different descriptions is the idea that BIPOC do not have attitudes or beliefs that require changing, and the assumption that all “allies” would benefit from having their attitudes or beliefs challenged. That seems kinda personal to me (in a racist sort of way), although I agree with you that one should not take these things personally.

      Not sure what the point is of labelling other people as “anti-woke whiners”.

      Sure, some privileged wealthy Black students at Smith College could end up in dangerous situations involving violent racism *off* campus (in some fancy store in a white neighborhood, or while driving a car with expired tags). And sure it’s likely that Shaw would not be targeted by those same racists. Nobody is denying that there is violent anti-Black racism in the world, or that it needs to be confronted and stopped.

      But that is not directly related to the question whether colleges and universities should put employees like Shaw or me into racially segregated Maoist struggle sessions in order to confront phantom racism *on* campus. It seems to me that’s what Shaw is “whining” about here. Me too, I guess. Trying not to whine though. Trying to stay positive.

      1. I haven’t seen something like that, but as a white person who has endured a lot of whining at work by white people who have never talked to actual black people, I can see the wisdom of training white people separately. The people who really need the training would feel more comfortable sharing their true feelings and ideas, and the people who might be triggered by this stuff would be spared. I’ve attended a lot of training sessions where the blacks (who after all are the experts) do all the talking.

        I think an excellent 3rd training would be assigning groups of people in similar ranks in the organization with a balance of people from both sides.

        I think video training with quizzes and certificates might be a good way to go, too.

        But, yeah, white people need to stop whining about having to sit through training. That’s just stupid.

        1. Our work place had an open-for-all session. It worked so great the employees asked for more of them. We ended up having four or five, with a lot of employees airing their stories about unprofessional and discriminatory conduct in the workplace. So I somewhat disagree that separate sessions are necessary or even a good. I benefitted precisely because I would never have heard or imagined such conduct was occurring, unless I was in the session with the victims of it. Under your model, I would not have been in training with them, would not have heard those stories first-hand, and likely would have underestimated the problem because of that.

          They did have separate sessions for senior leaders, line managers, and the rest of us, which focused on the problems of each “rank” (for example, managers talked more about bias occurring in personnel reviews and promotions, and how to eliminate it).

          I agree that there’s nothing wrong with training related to various -isms in the workplace. And I agree with you about making it video training. But (1) I don’t think separating the employees into racial groups and training them by race is effective, and I’d even question the ethics of it, and (2) I don’t think training is what Ms. Shaw is complaining about (see my other post about that).

        2. @LA Thanks for the long detailed reply. I mostly agree with you I think.

          My university and my city are among the most ethnically and racially diverse places in the world: most of my neighbours and colleagues and students are Korean, Chinese, south Asian, Russian, African (like from Africa), Iranian, and on and on. Most of my golf buddies are Chinese. I’m not saying that I can’t be racist because of those associations. I just can’t relate to the idea of white people who have only ever talked to and known other white people. It’s like talking about people who only eat breakfast cereal for every meal. It’s just too bizarre to think about. So maybe I’m missing your POV that way.

          Maybe I disagree with you in this way. Places like Smith College are arguably among the least racist and most inclusive institutions in the world. Of course those places are embedded in a wider world where there is lots of anti-Black racism. But it seems like misplaced effort for university administrators to assume that their white faculty and staff might have racist beliefs and attitudes (and train them one way), while assuming that their non-white faculty and staff have no such racist beliefs and attitudes (and train them a second way). This seems to address racism that largely does not exist on campuses like Smith College, and does nothing to address the racism that really does exist and needs to be stopped off campus. The cost of that misplaced effort is responses like Shaw’s, where she feels she is being singled out for attitudes and beliefs she doesn’t have, and told how to change her beliefs and behavior as part of her training.

          IOW this kind of training at places like Smith College is a solution in search of a problem. The problem is outside the institution (or largely so it seems to me).

          But maybe I’m way wrong about that.

          1. Smith had a racial bias incident a few years ago, so that could be part of the push here.

            In your workplace, if that segregated conversation is part of a long series, and if your employer has been receptive to employee suggestions, perhaps that segregated session is the result of suggestions. Experimentation within the context of a continuing dialogue would be different from having something like that as the only training opportunity.

            Where I live, there are most definitely people who have never met anyone who isn’t white. I myself grew up in such a place. There is less segregation than there used to be, but there are still whites-only and blacks-only neighborhoods, communities, and schools.

          2. Hmm, yeah ok I see what you mean. But “had a racial bias incident a few years ago” doesn’t justify making broad assumptions about the beliefs and attitudes of the white employees, and making different assumptions about the beliefs and attitudes of the Black employees. And it still seems like a solution in search of a problem (at places like Smith College).

            No, not a series of workshops at my university, and not based on feedback from employees. The racial segregation is clearly motivated by bbasic assumptions about “allies” versus BIPOC, with all the negative assumptions involving the former.

            Sorry I keep coming back to this, but: yes for sure I understand that *where you live* there are people who have never met anyone who isn’t white. But at *Smith College* that’s a near impossibility: one can’t work at a place like Smith College, with it’s inclusivity and its diverse population of students and faculty and staff, and not work closely with Black people.

            I’m not arguing that your experience or the place where you live does not include racism. I’m just proposing that your experience of such places and people doesn’t translate over to a place like Smith College (or, arguably, most US colleges and universities).

            So again this kind of policy and administrative solution (with its attendant pushback from people like Shaw) seems useless as a way to reduce ant-Black racism at Smith College, where there is very little such racism.

            Also thanks again for the conversation. It’s illuminating for me, and helps me work through what I think about these topics (and possibly change my mind about some of them).

        3. “…white people need to stop whining…”

          I love how woke people demand people shut up based on the color of their skin.

  17. I see from Wikipedia (I know…) that Smith’s Latin motto translates into English as “In Virtue One Gains Knowledge” – I guess that should be “Virtue Signalling” …

      1. “Virtue” here is an adjective. The noun is “signaling”. It is the signaling that is at issue because it doesn’t actually require any actual virtue.

  18. Well, finally viewing the video, and yep, it was exactly what I expected based on my conversations with staff (vs. professionals) in large organizations.

    She frequently says that she *feels* devalued, and claims that she’s been forced to adopt a narrative. Her point that staff is drawn from the local area is true for most places with a non-professional staff (of any kind). But in a university, the faculty & students come from everywhere.

    If she bristles at every staff member being treated the same (due to a racial incident a few years ago), well, boo hoo.

    Whenever there is any kind of misadventure in a large organization, it is incumbent upon the organization to provide training to enforce a message that biased actions (or illegal or unethical or whatever) will not be tolerated.

    In addition, an organization that has consumers must ensure that those consumers will feel welcome. Just knowing that everyone on campus that they encounter will have been given “the talk” about checking their biases will go a long way toward ensuring their good will.

    When I was in college ages ago, there was a racial incident and all the students who had come to that university in hopes of getting an excellent education fled within days. They did not feel safe there. And the response afterward was a really lame P.R. statement from our president, or maybe the board, but no action to educate the students at large about the fears of their black cohorts in a predominately white college. (Most of those students had come from the south side of Chicago)

    She doesn’t get it. It’s not about her. It’s about the students. The college isn’t there for her benefit. It’s there for the benefit of the students, and students have to feel that all the staff will treat everybody equally.

    The fact that she’s a liberal, educated staff member means nothing — if there will be mandatory training, she has to go, and it’s not dehumanizing or demeaning. You can’t do a brain scan on every staff member to see if they have an implicit bias. You have to assume all of them do in order to conduct training. The training may engender push-back, but I bet when she encounters a student who gets up in arms she’ll be better prepared to de-escalate the situation.

    And she may not be a typical staff person — there could well be bigots among the staff. I have known many otherwise “nice” people who suddenly say horrible racist things to me (I’m white – it’s not about me, it’s about others), and I’m aghast. These horrible things include the n-word and stereotypes and a variety of opinions about how *those* people should think and behave. You have to know someone a good while before those things pop up. HR won’t be able to screen for that. All they can do is establish a minimum standard for all the staff.

    I’m a professional, and I’ve gone to a lot of training about diversity, EEO law, ADA law, FSLA law, good management principles, etc. These things are almost always open only to the professional staff, not the non-professional staff. They expect the managers and professionals to convey their standards to the lower-level staff, but we aren’t trainers. We may or may not train our reports and coworkers. It’s a haphazard thing. Considering the litigation a university could be subject to, innoculating themselves from lawsuits by ensuring staff at all levels know what’s expected of them protects students from egregious crap, relieves professors & professionals from the burden of having to teach grownups how to act, and protects the organization from incidents that at the least distract from their main mission. So rather than jump on the anti-woke bandwagon, I say kudos to them for including the everyday workers!

  19. whoops missed a word:

    “When I was in college ages ago, there was a racial incident and all the students…”

    should be “all the black students.”

    There were lots of “underprivileged” students like me, who were white, and this racial incident didn’t impact me personally. This is one way I learned the new definition of “privilege” before it was a thing. I don’t have to worry about the KKK on campus threatening my personal well being.

  20. Brother. That lady has got some balls! (forgive the coarse metaphor).
    I hope she has another job lined up.

    Please do keep us appraised of this kind of thing, professor. It seems (and it is hard to get a grip of its range and depth) to be getting even more extreme.

    I write this as there’s a BLM protest downstairs RIGHT NOW on 8th ave yelling something against “Gay Oppressions” (of LGBT people)… this in wait for it… Chelsea, Manhattan… where I am actually the last heterosexual male living here. 😉
    Or almost….

    The fact that lifelong lefty liberals like you, me and many readers herein are amazed suggest things have spun quite out of control.

    Indeed, Andrew Sullivan: “We’re all on campus now.”

    Thank you.

    D.A., NYC

      1. So whom are they addressing? If they are protesting gay oppression, maybe they should go talk to some real gay oppressors in Senegal or Iran or among the Black Hebrew Israelites.
        The civil rights fights have been fought and won. The fights that are left are economic (dearth of secure jobs with a living wage to support a family, crumbling infrastructure, laughable tax rates for the very rich) and sociocultural (high-aggression-high-violent-crime-culture, dumbed-down school curricula and low expectations). But as the liberal elites are happy with the economic status quo and the privileged positions of their children vis-a-vis the public-school educated proletariat, they prefer empty gestures like diversity training at colleges. It’s also much easier than to talk or bribe ghetto kids out of starting to have children at 16 while taking drugs, so any effort to bring some order and stability into vulnerable children’s lives gets denounced as racism.

        1. The “B” in “BLM” stands for “Black”, not “Gay”.

          Good to know that civil rights issues have all been resolved, though.

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