1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

'Political correctness' in Universities - or just censorship?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Weald56, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Now Yoga is banned in one:


    Yoga has become the latest victim of political correctness on university campuses, after a free class was cancelled because of complaints that the lessons were an unaceptable “cultural appropriation” of a non-Western practice.

    And also:

    The disagreement comes amid growing debate about freedom of speech and political correctness at British and North American universities. In recent months, Oxford University cancelled a debate on abortion after protesters objected to the fact it was being held between two men, while the Cambridge Union was asked to withdraw its speaking invitation to the writer and commentator Germaine Greer because of her views on transgender issues.

    Last month, the lecturer Erika Christakis and her husband were called on to resign from Yale’s Silliman College, where the couple lived and worked, after she sent an email suggesting that her students try not to be offended by culturally insensitive Halloween costumes.

    In the US, students have asked for so-called “trigger warnings” on the front covers of classic works of literature, in case people who have had distressing experiences of sexual violence, racism or other trauma are caught off-guard and find themselves reliving the past. It has stirred debate into whether universities are being turned into “safe spaces”, where students are shielded from words and ideas that might make them uncomfortable.

    And here's another one:


  2. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

  3. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Pish and tosh.

    One of the most formative experiences I had as an undergraduate was watching Dr Abbas Lavasani in full rant mode at a student union meeting. He was an avowed supporter of Ayatollah Khomeini at the time of the Iranian revolution. A couple of years later he was the first hostage to die at the Iranian Embassy siege in London, having volunteered himself for martyrdom. His execution triggered the SAS intervention.

    I will never forget the chilling fanatical gleam in his eye as he poured forth at the assembled student throng with his clenched fist waving in the air. Made me realise there's nutters on the loose in this world.

    I'm glad nobody sought to protect my sensitive feelings from his opinions.
    lexus300 and kent1 like this.
  4. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Not so much a sin of cultural appropriation, more competition elimination. Yoga is a commodity, Ottawa has a lot of suppliers.
  5. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Why was this man a 'nutter'?
  6. Eureka!

    Eureka! Lead commenter

    The way to stop this nonsense is to look around the campus for silly examples to complain about, and inundate with "complaints". Though in the article cited, it was the student union
    that made the decision, rather than the university.

    Anyone think of examples? How about the use of zero - that was an Indian (Arab?) invention - misappropriated in sooooo many ways!
  7. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    University should be a place of free speech and tolerance. The examples given by Kent 1 and lanokia strike me as part of a very worrying trend.

    The arguments given for these restrictions seem so flawed that they hardly even fit the political correctness description. I would call it censorship by an illiberal arrogant minority.

    Definitely a case of the lunitics taking over the asylum.


    The lunatics have taken over the asylum
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum, take away my right to choose
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum, take away my point of view
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum, take away my dignity,
    Take these things away from me
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum, take away my family,
    Take away the right to speak
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum take away my point of view,
    Take away my right to choose
  8. Didactylos4

    Didactylos4 Star commenter

    It often is
    Sometimes they take their role way too seriously
  9. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    This is my favourite example of current university daftness:

    As you watch these for the first time you may find yourself wondering if they are some kind of ingenious spoof. Sadly not.
    Didactylos4 likes this.
  10. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    I think there's a lot of different issues here which don't have one simple answer really. The yoga thing seems stupid. I haven't read about it, but from the information in the OP it's ridiculous. My understanding of cultural appropriation is when a majority demographic utilises cultural dress, symbols or practices of a minority culture for the purposes of fashion, despite the fact that those cultural items are the focus of derision or discrimination when in their original cultural context. Like women of colour being told that their natural hair is untidy and unprofessional and cornrows are too 'ghetto' and encouraged to make their hair more 'white', while at the same time promoting cornrows and big hair on white girls as edgy and sexy. Yoga doesn't fit into that for me at all, so it's just a nonsense in my mind.

    I didn't agree with the thing about a debate being cancelled purely because it was two men if that's all there is to it. I can't remember if there was any other reason. I would have qualms if it was something that could actually affect access to abortions for women, but if it was purely an academic exercise then there's no harm.

    The Germaine Greer thing, I kind of sympathise with the University. They're not obligated to provide a platform for everyone to promote their views. Greer's views on transgenderism could be viewed as a) incredibly dismissive of a complex and difficult issue and b) give legitimacy to discriminatory practices based on misinformation. It wouldn't be a question if someone was wanting to spout racist or extremist nonsense at a University, so I don't see how this is that different.

    The Yale thing was also justified in my mind. Someone sent an email out reminding students that mocking minority cultures by wearing costumes that included turbans, feathered headdresses or blackface is not encoumraged. Christakis responded by basically saying that students should be allowed to dress in whatever they want regardless of the offence. Well, they still could choose to ignore the email about being sensitive to other cultures, it was just being pointed out that it wasn't cool and it wasn't funny to mock the ethnic heritage of others. Why do there this idea that 'free speech' includes the right to offend but not to have to accept that others are allowed to point out what an offensive A-hole you're being? Besides, see how well turning up to an office party in blackface goes down. It isn't a University mollycoddling issue, it's a general life lesson!

    Trigger warnings is another thing that I don't have a problem with, so long as they aren't used as excuses to get out of assignments or make a course easier. Lots of TV programmes have warnings at the beginning so you know what you're getting into. I have issues with certain things that trigger me, but it's worse when I don't know it's coming. It's to do with control I think. I can make a conscious decision to put myself through it rather than have it suddenly foisted upon me with no warning. It's not a silly little thing either. Some things have shaken me for days and taken over my mind completely. It causes terrible insomnia combined with the most awful vivid nightmares when I do finally fall asleep and during the day I walk round with this feeling of dread and terror hanging over me every second. It's ridiculous, but it's also very real, very upsetting and very disruptive.

    As for the International Mens Day thing, it's a shame that the whole thing was tarnished in general by a small but very vocal minority gloating over how men had triumphed over the feminazis. As a woman trying to support IMD, it was quite upsetting to see how many anti-female memes and general nasty remarks about my gender were being bandied about in the name of 'celebrating' men. That's why students called for a ban at the Uni. It wasn't the issues themselves, it was the manner in which the organisation and it's supporters had conducted themselves and displayed their attitudes towards women in general.

    And the guy who didn't want to go to a class on consent because he felt like it was accusing him of being a rapist needs to get over himself. The issue of consent isn't that black and white and if he should really stop being so oversensitive and considered the idea that he might just learn something rather than viewing it as a personal and direct attack on his personal relationships.
    cissy3 and Didactylos4 like this.
  11. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    It was all in the eyes - very scary, you'd have to have been there. I can still see them after 35 years.
  12. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

  13. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    I'm paying a fortune to put son number 1 through uni and the only obsession he seems to have developed is for nauseating Disney movies - I'd welcome a bit of fire from him on a controvertial topic. Perhaps I should be careful what I wish for mind....
  14. cissy3

    cissy3 Star commenter

    Interesting, Orkrider. I hadn't realised that. Although it shouldn't surprise me really.
  15. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    I remember a joke boycott of the launderette on campus at my university "unfair to germs and micro-organisms" was the slogan.
  16. VanDerValk

    VanDerValk Occasional commenter

    I'll bet I know what this is really all about! :)
  17. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Just have a look at some of the facebook pages that crop up when you search for International Mens Day. Some of them are just depressing.
  18. Didactylos4

    Didactylos4 Star commenter

    Or Twitter
  19. xmal

    xmal Established commenter

  20. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Why not?

Share This Page