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Clark’s Anti “You Guys” Policy is Focus of the New York Times Article

Friday, September 09, 2016

 

The New York Times' feature focused on Clark University's efforts to help incoming students adapt to college life, but others would claim it is political correctness training. 

The article featured an exchange between freshman (or first year) and the Chief Diversity Officer at Clark University:

A freshman tentatively raises her hand and takes the microphone. “I’m really scared to ask this,” she begins. “When I, as a white female, listen to music that uses the N word, and I’m in the car, or, especially when I’m with all white friends, is it O.K. to sing along?”

The answer, from Sheree Marlowe, the new chief diversity officer at Clark University, is an unequivocal “no.”

The New York Times article captured the continuation of the discussion, "And don’t say “you guys.” It could be interpreted as leaving out women, said Ms. Marlowe, who realized it was offensive only when someone confronted her for saying it during a presentation."

Clark's program sparked strong reaction. Comments included, "Perhaps it would be better to teach students not to mine every innocuous comment for microaggressions. Not every comment is meant to be hurtful and if you're so sensitive that the phrase "you guys" makes you feel inferior, perhaps you're not ready to take your place in the adult world."

Another comment, "Perhaps it would be better to teach students not to mine every innocuous comment for microaggressions. Not every comment is meant to be hurtful and if you're so sensitive that the phrase "you guys" makes you feel inferior, perhaps you're not ready to take your place in the adult world."

But some defended the efforts at Clark, "I'm left speechless by some of the comments here. Walk in the shoes of a person of color and you will experience outright discrimination every day. White people are careless and often insensitive in how they speak to people in the world. I write this as a white mom of a daughter who has experienced this because of her skin tone and ethnic/racial background. I considered myself open-minded and well-informed before we became a family, but I was clueless. Microagressions are real, and they hurt, and you don't have to go looking for them. They happen all the time. The people brushing off the messages in this article as if it were lint on their sleeves are doing so because as a white person they can take certain advantages for granted."

The Times story about Clark was picked up around the world. The London's Daily Mail's headline was "College students are told they can't say 'you guys' because it might be sexist and they can't ask Asian strangers for help with math."

 
Other Directives to incoming students

According to the New York Times, Clark recomends, ""Don’t ask an Asian student you don’t know for help on your math homework or randomly ask a black student if he plays basketball. Both questions make assumptions based on stereotypes. And don’t say “you guys.” It could be interpreted as leaving out women, said Ms. Marlowe, who realized it was offensive only when someone confronted her for saying it during a presentation."

 

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