On Campus

Campuses of inclusive silence?

Winnipeg Sun column excerpt:

. . . within at least one Canadian university, the conversations that help us learn when to stand up against views that promote hate and social divisions could be stifled in the name of diversity.

Queen’s University came under fire Wednesday for running a pilot project in which six student facilitators would keep their eyes and ears open within campus residences for verbal and written sexist, homophobic and racist statements. Those volunteers were required to address the offences and start a dialogue about why certain words and phrases are unacceptable.

Divisive labels like “homo” and “retard,” and the derogatory phrase “That’s so gay” exemplify casual remarks that would be challenged in an attempt to highlight the misguided attitudes behind the expressions.

Ideally, these volunteers would then be able to steer the conversation into more inclusive, and inherently more politically correct, territory.

The project certainly meshes with Queen’s self-promotion as “one of Canada’s leading universities with an international reputation for scholarship, social purpose, spirit and diversity.”

But soon after word of this “Intergroup Dialogue Program” hit the news, critics slammed the volunteers as “conversation cops” and “thought police” for obvious reasons.

If these programs spread across the nation, we might be able to expect much more carefully controlled and quiet campuses.

But far too much would be lost in the inclusive silence.

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