EXCLUSIVE: College reconsiders 'oppression' worksheet

Grace Gottschling
Investigative Reporter

  • Vassar College distributed an activity sheet asking students in freshman orientation to match identity groups with certain categories.
  • The categories with which students were asked to match identity groups were "social identity," "targeted group," "privileged group," and "system of oppression."
  • A spokesperson for the college has since told Campus Reform that it is "determining whether to continue to use this document in the future."
  • Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York distributed an activity sheet during freshman orientation that required incoming students to match identity groups with several categories including a “system of oppression," a move the college now says it will reconsider going forward. 

    Campus Reform obtained a copy of the handout from a concerned student, who wished to remain anonymous. The handout, "We Are Vassar Foundational Language Sheet" asks students to fill-in-the-blank using a word bank of various identities to fill columns labeled "Social Identity," "Targeted Group," "Privileged Group," and "System of Oppression."

    “Perhaps the college could have given us greater room for discussion, such as by asking us whether we agree that these systems of oppression exist or giving us an opposing viewpoint to this ideology."   

    According to the sheet, once completed, Buddhists are defined as a group being “targeted” by the “Christian Hegemony” and individuals who are “fat” are systematically oppressed by the “Eurocentric Patriarchy.” 

    [RELATED: Vassar teaches freshmen to 'appreciate social justice']

    The sheet defines “Systems of Oppression” as an “application of power and privilege where one group benefits at the expense of another” and defines “privilege” as “a set of unearned advantages and benefits.”

    Along with the language sheet, students were given an “Identity Wheel” along with questions to ask themselves. The color wheel, which is segmented into 16 colored sections, lists identities such as socioeconomic class, age, and work experience.

    The questions students were instructed to ask themselves included, “Do you think about any one of these identities more than others, any less?“, "Which identity makes you feel most at home?", and "Which of these identities do you think is the hardest for people to discuss?” 

    “Although real racism and sexism exist, and definitely not to the extent that they are purported to exist by the left and this college faculty. It is absurd to claim, for example, that the thin are oppressing the fat, and to make us believe that eurocentric patriarchy is to blame,” the anonymous student told Campus Reform

    [RELATED: Vassar offers course on fighting economic inequality, sexism]

    “Perhaps the college could have given us greater room for discussion, such as by asking us whether we agree that these systems of oppression exist or giving us an opposing viewpoint to this ideology,” the student added.

    “We are revising our orientation program and our team is determining whether to continue to use this document in the future,” Amanita Duga-Carroll, vice president of Communications at Vassar, told Campus Reform, later adding “we want to do things that make our students feel included, so, yes, we take that feedback seriously.” 

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Grace_Gotcha 





    Grace Gottschling

    Grace Gottschling

    Investigative Reporter

    Grace Gottschling is the Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey, where she wrote for the university newspaper. Grace was the vice president of the pro-life club on her campus and has experience traveling across the country to engage and train others in pro-life apologetics.

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