Clemson begs profs to sign up for $27,000 diversity training

Clemson University is spending more than $25,000 on “diversity education and training” for its faculty members.

Clemson President James Clements pledged that “all employees will participate in diversity education and training,” last April, in order to create a more inclusive environment on campus.

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That day has come at last, according to evidence given by one Clemson faculty member, who spoke with Campus Reform on the condition of anonymity.

Emails from the Office of Inclusion and Equity (OIE) and the Office of Human Resources (OHR) incentivized faculty members with mugs and t-shirts to take an online “inclusion awareness course” called “Diversity Benefits for Higher Education.”

The training, provided by a company called Workplace Answers, cost Clemson University a total of $26,945 according to an invoice obtained by The Tiger Town Observer, Clemson’s conservative student newspaper.

The invoice, labelled, “Department: Chief Diversity Officer,” refers to Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill, who, according to publicly provided salary information, earned $185,850 per year as of October 1, 2016.

Campus Reform reached out to Gill for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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“Employees who have not completed the training will receive two automated reminders,” the email continues.

The online training presents a variety of scenarios featuring fictional characters. In one scenario between “Henry” and “Maxine,” Maxine thinks that inclusion and diversity training are about “political correctness,” and are a distraction, in response to which the training suggests that Henry should “discuss how diversity can lead to better decisions,” and “decrease employee turnover,”

The incorrect answer, it notes, is to “say nothing” and assume Maxine is correct.

On another slide, a character named Alejandro schedules a 9:00 a.m. meeting between two groups of foreign professors and students. The first group arrived fifteen minutes early, while the second arrived ten minutes late. According to the answers, it is wrong for Alejandro to “politely ask the second group to apologize,” or explain that “in our country, 9:00 a.m. means 9:00 a.m.”

Rather, the slide says that Alejandro should “recognize cultural differences that may impact the meeting and adjust accordingly,” and understand “that his cultural perspective regarding time is neither more nor less valid than any other.”

In an example dealing with sexism and white privilege, Tanisha and Jonathan both applied to a college administration job posted by Stephanie. Later, Stephanie receives an email from Tanisha, who is angry after not being invited to interview for the position. Tanisha says, “You invited him to interview and not me, apparently because he is a white male.”

The slide states that Stephanie should “reflect on her behavior to see if Tanisha is correct,” and that it would be incorrect for Stephanie to “tell Tanisha it is offensive to accuse a woman of sexism,” explaining that “In the United States we are all raised with biases,” and “as a woman, Stephanie could have discriminated against another woman or against someone of her own race.”

Other examples include scenarios in which supervisors are labelled sexist for asking women to clean up plates and men to move benches, women are told that they are hindered in science fields because of “bias and outmoded institutional structures,” and employees are called offensive for not recognizing transgender gender identities.

“Remember that freedom of speech and academic freedom are not limitless,” another slide reminds faculty members. “Language that is derogatory with regard to race, sex, or other protected or emerging forms of diversity does not belong in a university that values inclusion.”

The presentation concludes by asking participants to “acknowledge and certify that I have read, understood, and will comply with Clemson’s Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy,” which the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-partisan First Amendment watchdog, has given a “red-light” rating for “clearly and substantially’ interfering with freedom of speech.

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“I’m appalled that Clemson thought it was necessary to ‘encourage’ its employees to take this course,” the anonymous faculty member proclaimed. “I can only guess the number of productivity hours the University lost while faculty and staff suffered through the infuriating, biased, laughable examples. Did anyone taking the course really learn anything new?”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @RobertMGunter