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“Bias response teams” condition students to treat ‘offensive’ language as a criminal matter (You guessed it, more PC BS)

Posted 02/22/2017 4:24 pm by

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Hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities are encouraging students to report any comments they find offensive to so-called bias response teams, which scrutinize campus free speech.

 

A report published by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) earlier this month details how  more than 230 U.S. colleges and universities are setting up the campus equivalent of “speech police” to investigate accusations of biased  speech.

 

The response teams consist of school officials, including student conduct administrators and public relations staff, as well as actual police officers in some cases.

 

Fire, in a review of 232 public and private institutions, found:

 

**2% report speech to members of law enforcement or campus security officers, even though the teams deliberately solicit reports of a wide variety of non-criminal speech and activity.

**12% of teams include at least one administrator dedicated to media relations, suggesting that part of the purpose of such teams is to deter and respond to controversies that might embarrass the institution.



**Fewer than a third of teams included faculty members, whose absence diminishes the likelihood that the team will have a meaningful understanding of academic freedom.

 

Some of the standards for what constitutes “biased” speech are based on federal and state statutes barring discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, etc. But at a number of the schools examined, standards for what constitute bias or offensive speech are far broader.

 

For instance, FIRE reports that a policy at Macalester College “appears to define criticism of behavior of any kind as ‘bias.’” The University of Central Arkansas has a policy that calls out students who are found to be biased against others’ “intellectual perspective.” The University of Kentucky forbids bias against “political belief.” And Dartmouth warns of bias against “political expression.”

 

What the policies ultimately mean, FIRE contends, is that schools can punish, or at least investigate, students for criticism or contrarianism of any kind.

 

Via the organization:

 

Many policies include catch-all categories of bias—e.g., “other” biases. In such cases, the definition of a bias incident encompasses not only protected speech, but also any speech that offends anyone for any reason. The net effect is that broad definitions of “bias” invite reports of any offensive speech, whether or not it is tethered to a discernable form of bias, thereby inviting scrutiny of student activists, organizations, and faculty engaged in political advocacy, debate, or academic inquiry.

 

The response teams are academia’s answer to chilling protected speech without facing outrage for attacking protected speech. When the teams are notified of an “incident,” they either “educate” students guilty of violating the policies by telling them why the speech was offensive or find creative ways to reprimand students and seek ways to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

 

The general idea seems to be based on the foundation of politically correct culture: that no person should ever need to feel uncomfortable or be forced to justify their positions or lifestyle.

 

And as the coddled students make their way into adulthood, society will pay.

 

“How will students be able to defend their rights in the legislature or the courts if debating them in the classroom is to be discouraged?” asked Adam Steinbaugh, a senior program officer at FIRE.

 

The short answer: They won’t be. And maybe that’s the point.

 

Read FIRE’s full report.

 
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