MADISON, Wis. – Is the University of Wisconsin-Madison running the risk of having minority students viewed as being coddled and overprotected from “seemingly minor or unintentional” slights?
Is it creating an environment where the slightest statement or action could provoke a finger-pointing witch hunt for students who are accused of insensitivity?
Is it encouraging minority students to become hyper-sensitive to the point where people of different skin colors are afraid to associate openly and freely, without having their speech constantly monitored for words that might upset someone?
The university has announced that it will require about 1,000 incoming students to participate in “cultural competency training” this fall, at a cost ranging between $150,000 and $200,000, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The announcement follows a semester of student protests over “racially charged incidents at UW-Madison that officials say may have been driven by ignorance rather than malice,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The training will address “topics such as identity, culture and micro-aggressions,” the newspaper reported.
The State Journal defines the term “microsaggressions” as “seemingly minor or unintentional slights that contribute to a hostile atmosphere for people of color.”
While the training may be limited to about 1,000 students this fall, it will be mandatory for all incoming students by next year, the State Journal reported. The report did not say how much the expanded program might cost in the future.
The university is also reviewing more than 100 suggestions from various people for improving the racial climate on campus, the news story said.
One of the more publicized suggestions is to install a so-called “Stall Seat Journal” on the backs of doors in toilet stalls in campus restrooms, and above urinals. The written message would address racial and cultural diversity on campus, and the perceived need for more sensitivity when it comes to those issues.