The University of Michigan offered employees at its annual professional development conference an hour-long session focused on "unpacking" their whiteness earlier this month.
The school's 2017 Student Life Professional Development Conference, which was held from Dec. 4 to Dec. 5, gave participants the option of attending a session titled "Conversations on Whiteness." Here's a description of the session from the university's website:
Do you feel uncomfortable as a White person engaging with students or colleagues about social justice issues? Do you want to help students and staff as they work through the difficulty of campus climate issues related to race, but don’t know how? Using the Privileged Identity Exploration Model (PIE), participants will have the opportunity to recognize the difficulties they face when talking about social justice issues related to their White identity, explore this discomfort, and devise ways to work through it. Please join us for this session, as we spend time unpacking Whiteness and how to contribute to the work of supporting students and staff related to identity and social justice.
The College Fix reached out to three university staff members identified as event facilitators and received comment from only one. “This is an internal training for U-M Student Life staff," Nick Smith, director of campus involvement, replied when questioned on why the event was created and "whether or not students at the University of Michigan had complained about the quality of racial discourse on campus."
The session on whiteness was one of more than a dozen offered over the course of the conference.
"Privileged Identity Exploration Model" reportedly trains users to identify how people avoid acknowledging their own privilege, including through "denial" and "minimization." We would know whether or not the University of Michigan's session followed that approach if its facilitators didn't dismiss the event as an "internal training" and were open about what was taught.
Again, this was one session of many offered during the conference, and one hour of many hours university staff members have spent and will spend in pointless conferences over the course of their careers. But plenty more of those hours will also be spent in similarly one-sided "conversations" on important topics that lead them to take one-sided approaches to those topics when dealing with their students. That's the point of a training, after all.
It all adds up to where we are now, a system so devoted to one ideology that its faithful soldiers resist dissent at every turn, expelling dissidents and producing blind adherents. In these academic contexts, events billed as "conversations" rarely involve any discussion that creeps outside the confines of progressivism.