Rowan University released guidelines for professors explaining how they can “interrupt microaggressions” that include the “myth of meritocracy,” color blindness, and the phrase “that’s so gay.”
The guidelines are divided into three category, one identifying the microaggression, the second providing professors with examples of responses they can give, and the third showing additional strategies that professors can take to approach the microaggression.
Rowan’s rules suggest that if someone tells an Asian “you’re all good in math, can you help me with this problem?” the professor can respond with “I heard you say that all Asians are good in math. What makes you believe that?” The guidelines advise asking the speaker to elaborate so that the professor can understand their perspective better and so that the speaker can “become aware of what s/he is saying.”
Other microaggressions include asking blacks why they act “loud/animated,” telling them to “calm down,” and saying that “everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough,” an apparent microaggression titled the “myth of meritocracy.”
“[It’s] just a culmination of conversation over time,” Jose Cardona, Rowan’s vice president for university relations, told media, referring to the microaggression guidelines.
“[It] gives [students] the avenue of speaking out.”
Cardona explained that students’ various life experiences could result in offense-taking on the part of some, but not others. For instance, the professor said that meritocracy could offend some poorer individuals.
Media also discussed Rowan’s Bias Assessment and Response Team with Cardona. The administrator said that the group simply administered talks between students and did not engage in sanctions.
“Incidents reported as bias acts may not be in violation of any civil, criminal or University codes, and as such may not result in discipline,” reads the school’s description of the team. “However, the University will offer support to those reporting incidents as well as educational programs to prevent and stop the spread of bias-related incidents on campus.”
“It’s not at all a watchdog group,” said Cardona.
When asked how Rowan balanced speech with student comfort, the administrator said that the school’s first priority was to “keep the conversation going.”