If you want to know why college tuition is so high these days, the answer can be found in microcosmic form by examining a new diversity training program at the University of Arkansas.
It’s called (and it’s difficult to type this without cracking up) “OUCH! That Stereotype Hurts.” Did that stereotype hurt you? Would it hurt someone else? It’s time to say “ouch!”
The new program was first reported on by Campus Reform on Thursday. According to the outlet, the university paid “at least $40,680” for the online diversity training program. Granted, this can be offset with the tuition fees from one out-of-stater, but you need to look at the program to realize just how fatuous and misguided it is.
According to a February post on the university’s website, the program is “a 30-minute training available on Blackboard for students, faculty and staff to gain communication skills for promoting inclusion and respect. The course includes a review of basic concepts and terms, a video on the impact of hurtful stereotypes, ways to respectfully speak up when you hear demeaning comments and a final assessment.”
It’s “not required but highly encouraged,” the university said.
“The University of Arkansas is committed to creating a campus environment where everyone feels welcome and can find a sense of belonging, and this training is one of many steps we’re taking toward that vision,” Yvette Murphy-Erby, the vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, said in the post.
“Stereotypes, even when unintended, can be harmful to those efforts. This short but impactful training is welcoming and inclusive to all and gives you the skills to speak out when you hear stereotypes that may be hurtful toward people of differing ethnicities, genders or political beliefs.”
If “OUCH! That Stereotype Hurts” manages to do any of this, I’d be genuinely shocked. For instance, here’s one interaction the program says could be solved by saying “Ouch!”:
Person 1: “So, about the holiday schedule.”
Person 2: “Let Jenny work the holiday shift. She’s single; she doesn’t have family.”
Person 1: “Ouch!”
Person 2: “What do you mean?”
Person 1: “I know that you’re trying to help out the other employees, but is that fair to Jenny?”
People of a certain age will remember an anti-drug PSA that aired during Saturday morning cartoons that starred the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In it, they endeavored to help a kid who’s been cornered by a drug pusher in the halls of his school and told he’s chicken if he doesn’t try marijuana. The advice the turtles come up with is getting the kid to tell the pusher, and I quote, “I’m not a chicken, you’re a turkey!”
That’s legitimately more helpful than the “OUCH!” approach — and, from what Campus Reform posted of the rest of the diversity module, this farrago of wokeness doesn’t get much better from there.
“Ouch communicates a lot with little effort,” the training explains, encouraging people to “Ouch and Educate” if they “have the time and the energy.”
The interactions take place via video vignettes. In one, an individual involved in hiring tells another employee, “The baby boomers won’t have the level of tech savvy we need. We need to recruit young kids right out of school.” In another, an individual says, “Those people don’t even try to speak English.”
Participants are asked to watch the video and notice the techniques the “OUCH!” method encourages trainees to adopt: “Assume good intent and explain impact”; “Ask a question”; “Interrupt and redirect”; “Broaden to universal human behavior”; “Make it individual”; or “Say ouch!” (Apparently, telling them “I’m not a chicken, you’re a turkey!” isn’t even an option, which is a wasted opportunity in my book.)
As if to pad this out, there’s even a page of quotes, including Mahatma Gandhi’s, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” If you’ve made it to college without having heard this one, with all due respect, you need a bit more than a diversity training module.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what $40,000 bought at a taxpayer-funded state university.
Thankfully, students, faculty and staff will be able to utilize this resource for years to come. Mark Rushing, the University of Arkansas’ associate vice chancellor of university relations, told Campus Reform that “funding for the training software was split by many colleges, schools and units across campus. This was a one-time cost as the licensing is now perpetual.” Because I’m sure that baby boomer hiring bit won’t age a bit in 10 years.
Even at $40,000, you’re not getting value for cost with this — not even close. This reads like one of those corny liberal exercises you’d have to do in middle school, except it’s being pushed on college students and staff members well past pimples and puberty.
And yet, I have to imagine more than one person at the university laid eyes upon this training and thought this was precisely what they needed to foster “communication skills for promoting inclusion and respect.”
If they’re gullible enough to spend $40,000 on that, you can imagine the black hole of bad ideas your child’s tuition and/or tax money is going down at the University of Arkansas. Ouch.
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