Oxford University says that students who avoid making eye contact may be guilty of racism

The latest guidance from Oxford University states that students who avoid making eye contact with their colleagues, may (without realising it) be guilty of racism. The Equality and Diversity unit has informed students that when they do not speak directly to other people, this may be taken as a form of 'racial microaggression'. What is even more alarming, is that they suggest that this could lead to mental ill-health for some students.

Yet another example, which the University calls 'everyday racism', is when a student asks someone where they are 'originally' from. The Equality and Diversity Unit explained to the students that while some people do things with the best intention and well-meaning, they may be horrified to realise that they had unwittingly offended the other person.

Sometimes the way sentences are constructed could lead to their words or actions suggesting that the other person fulfils a negative stereotype, or worse, that they do not belong.

Dr Joanna Williams, lecturer in higher education at the University of Kent countered the accusations that universities may be guilty of pandering to a 'snowflake generation' of students, most of whom are too quick to take offence, and overly sensitive to comments. Dr Williams stated that this was completely ridiculous and would only serve to make students more sensitive when they came in contact with other students. It would completely affect the way they handled interactions with each other.

Dr Williams told the Telegraph that in her opinion, people were being accused of 'thought crimes', where they were assumed to be thinking incorrect thoughts based on how they faced another student. She also feels that Oxford University is out of order, when it comes to suggesting to students how they should feel, and what they should think.

The university is forcing students to see other students as persons of colour, instead of potential friends, says Dr Williams. They are forcing the students to put people into various boxes because of their identity. Williams says that not only does this mean that the students do not relate naturally to each other, but they have rules suggested to them, which are stored in the back of their minds, thus making it impossible for the students to be spontaneous with each other.

Oxford Law students were informed last year that if they so wished, they could skip lectures which covered violent cases in case they became 'distressed.

This year Cardiff Metropolitan University told its students that they were banning such phrases as 'gentleman's agreement' and 'right hand man'. This was due to its code of practise on inclusive language. University guidance says that the use of 'gender-neutral' terms should take priority, with students not allowing their cultural background to influence their choice of words.

Another interesting fact is that the University of Glasgow has recently begun to issue 'trigger warnings'. These are intended for Theology students who will be studying the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and they may see distressing images. The students will then be given the opportunity to leave the room.

In the Collins Dictionary 2016, the term 'snowflake generation' was included as words of the year. This is defined as 'young adults of the 2010's, being less resilient, and more prone to take offence that previous generations'.

From Oxford University, a spokesman commented that the Equality and Diversity Unit works with other University bodies. Their goal is to ensure that the pursuit of excellence always goes hand in hand with freedom from discrimination, and equality of opportunity. The spokesman said that the Newsletter was a very good opportunity for advertising, and supporting the staff in their quest to achieve these goals.


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