Rutgers makes freshmen pay to learn about microaggressions

Toni Airaksinen
New Jersey Senior Campus Correspondent

  • Rutgers University requires freshmen to pay for their own microaggression training as part of the $175 New Student Orientation program.
  • The one-hour presentation insists, somewhat defensively, that it is not "making a big deal out of nothing," saying microaggressions cause "significant long-term harm" like "illness and a decreased immune system."
  • A "Language Matters" bulletin board found in a Rutgers University residence hall in August 2016.

    New Brunswick — Rutgers University requires freshmen to pay for their own microaggression training as part of the $175 New Student Orientation program.

    During orientation, students are required to attend a one-hour “Language Matters” workshop, during which they will learn about “microaggressions” and “the big impact of ‘the little things.’”

    "Victims of microaggressions often feel unsafe and not included."   

    [RELATED: San Jose State freshmen pay for own microaggressions training]

    The workshop will be based on a PowerPoint presentation, which explains that microaggressions are hurtful and that students should take caution to prevent committing them. Citing Dr. Derald Wing Sue, the architect behind microaggression theory, Rutgers tells students that microaggressions are “brief and commonplace” remarks that “whether intentional or unintentional” could hurt someone else’s feelings based off their affiliation with a marginalized group.

    The school acknowledges that microaggressions are “not the same as hate crimes or overt bigotry,” but asserts that such unintentional slights can still “make an impact” on students, even declaring that the workshop is not “making a big deal out of nothing” because “[a]ctually, it is a big deal and it goes deeper than just words.”

    [RELATED: Rutgers: to avoid microaggressions, only speak when 'necessary']

    “Victims of microaggressions often feel unsafe and not included,” the presentation explains, adding that microaggressions cause “significant long-term harm” and increase one’s risk of “illness and a decreased immune system.”

    Students inspired by the workshop are directed to a number of resources they can use to help fight bias, such as filing reports with the school’s Bias Incident Response Team or visiting the school’s various diversity offices.

    Developed by the school’s Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities, the mandatory “Language Matters” workshop is part of an ongoing campaign at Rutgers University to teach students to be mindful of their language.

    On the Rutgers University-New Brunswick campus alone, no fewer than five academic buildings currently have “Language Matters” posters hung up on bulletin boards, which warn students that “your words have power” and tell students to be mindful when they talk about issues such as terrorism and illegal immigration.

    The posters, which have also been seen this summer on the Rutgers University-Cook, and the Rutgers University-Douglass campus, warn students not to say things like “Those illegal aliens…” or “That’s so gay.”

    Rutgers University did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen





    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    New Jersey Senior Campus Correspondent
    Toni Airaksinen is a New Jersey based Correspondent for Campus Reform, and reports liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform. Her reporting focuses on campus First Amendment, Title IX, Equal Opportunity, and due process issues, and her stories have been profiled by numerous outlets including Fox News, The New York Post, PBS News, and The Washington Examiner.
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