Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Official Language Police at Queen's

(Article here)

KINGSTON (CP) -Students who make politically incorrect comments at Ontario’s Queen’s University can expect a lecture, whether they’re in or out of class.

The Kingston university has hired student facilitators to step in if they overhear students making homophobic or racial slurs, remarks bashing women or other offensive language.

The dean of student affairs at Queen’s says if students are making offensive comments loud enough for others to hear, it’s not a private conversation anymore.

Jason Laker says the facilitators use a respectful, non-confrontational approach.

But Angela Hickman, who edits a campus newspaper, says having such a program could stifle public discussion.

Can you imagine the type of people that will sign up to be a facilitator? University campuses are hardly the hotbed of racism. These people are going to make up everything conceivable to be able to exercise their power. It's not like they're going to report back at the end of the year and say they witnessed no homophobic, racist or misogynist comments.

UPDATE: Meet some facilitators here. Listen to the saccharin explanation:

"If there's a teachable moment, we'll take it," said assistant dean of
student affairs Arig Girgrah, who runs the program. "A lot of community building happens around food and dining."

She gave the example of a conversation about a gay character on
television as a good example of such a moment.

"It is all about creating opportunities to dialogue and reflect on
issues of social identity," Ms. Girgrah said. "This is not about preaching. It's not about advice giving. It's about hearing where students are at."

Can a university student survive without being able to make a 'perfume ponce' reference from 'Withnail and I" every now and then? Impossible, I say.

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