Syracuse University is instructing students to file a report if they see “abhorrent and intolerable” “bias incidents” on campus — such as “a sign that is color-coded pink for girls and blue for boys.”
The instruction comes as part of the school’s “STOP Bias” campaign, which is intended to give students “a college experience that is free of crime, discrimination, sexual harassment, and any other violation,” according to a description on the campaign’s official website.
In addition to stereotypically color-coded signs, the campaign’s list of possible “bias incidents” — which it describes as being “abhorrent and intolerable” — includes “telling jokes based on a stereotype, name-calling, stereotyping, avoiding or excluding others” and “making jokes or using stereotypes when talking about someone.” The school encourages students to “please” file a report using the school’s online reporting system if they have “experienced or witnessed an act of bias,” in order “[t]o facilitate open conversations and never privatize any wrongful act, no matter how small.” (Emphasis added.)
Sorry, but I really do feel like some things are too small to warrant this kind of attention. For example: Is using the color “pink” on a sign to designate “girls” and blue to designate “boys” stereotypical? Sure. But does it really meet the qualifications of a “bias incident,” which, according to the campaign’s own description, is “abhorrent and intolerable”? Only if you’re a crazy person.
Following the instructions of this campaign would make it completely impossible for people to interact with each other in an even remotely normal way.
Here’s another example: “Avoiding or excluding others” is on the list. Based on this, your boyfriend having a night out with his bros and not inviting you would qualify as a “bias incident,” because he’d be discriminating against you based on your gender. What’s more, because of the suggestion that you report these incidents not only if you have “experienced” one, but also if you have “witnessed” one, even overhearing a girl in the hallway say that her boyfriend is having a dude’s night would compel you to immediately run to your computer and file a report in the name of social justice.
Yes, there are times when a student is being harassed and discriminated against in a harmful way, and those students should be encouraged to go to the administration for help. But it’s also true that most of the time, the proper response to someone calling you a name is either ignoring it or calling them a name back. That’s how the world works. In the real world, you are going to be called names, you are going to be excluded, and you’re not going to be able to file a bias response report over it.What’s more — and I may be placing too much faith in people here — I think that most people would agree with me on this. I would think that most people could handle their married friends having a couples’ night where they’re not invited without needing administrative help. Under this policy, though, if you had a friend jokingly say “What’s up, ugly?” to you in the hallway, another student who hears it would have to report it. Then, regardless of whether or not you were actually bothered by it, the school would have to spend its time and resources addressing it. Call me insensitive, but this campaign is, at best, a total waste — and at worst, something that will condition students to interact in a way that is completely out of touch with the way things work in the real world.
This story was originally reported in an article on Campus Reform.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.