UW 'Hate/Bias Response Symposium' aims to 'challenge straight white college men'

UW-La Crosse is hosting a “Hate/Bias Response Symposium,” with sessions like “Fat is a Social Justice Issue, too.”

The conference will also host a session on “Challenging Straight White College Men” to be social justice advocates.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse hosted a Hate/Bias Response Symposium Tuesday and Wednesday, which included a session aimed at “challenging straight white college men.” 

UW-La Crosse’s Research and Resource Center for Campus Climate and the UWL Hate Response Team hosted the two-day Hate/Bias Response Symposium, which featured a range of sessions, such as “Fat is a Social Justice Issue, too,” as well as “Navigating Masculinity through Trans Identity,” and “Got Solidarity? Challenging Straight White College Men to Advocate for Social Justice.

For example, the “Fat is a Social Justice Issue, Too,” focused on the fact that “fatphobia” has always been linked to other oppressed groups, but is often left out from social justice research and activism.

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“We fail to acknowledge that fat is a social justice issue, too,” the description stated. “In this presentation, I begin by providing a brief history of the ways fat has been pathologized and medicalized in the United States. I will then discuss some of the ways fat is connected with gender, race, and class in particular and offer some strategies for how we can move forward by engaging in fat activism.”

In addition, the symposium also hosted a session exploring the issue of “Navigating Masculinity through Trans Identity,” where participants discussed the “regulation of gender” through expectations around masculinity “through a narrative of transmasculine identity.”

“This narrative will include examples of gender bias and how this bias evolves over the course of transitioning from female to male. The regulation of masculinity will be explored via group activity along with potential consequences when healthy masculinity is not reinforced,” stated the description.

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The symposium also hosted a session on “Challenging Straight White Men to Advocate for Social Justice,” where the panelist described his book “Written especially for straight white male college students and educators” that emphasizes the need for white people to advocate for social justice.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, commented on the event, telling Campus Reform that almost anything can be turned into a “‘social justice’ issue” these days.

“Looked at with the right kind of squint, almost anything can be turned into a ‘social justice’ issue:  fat, residence life, policing, masculinity, Islam, etc,” Wood said. “The ‘campus climate coordinators’ and their fellow activist-administrators need not worry they will run out of monsters under the bed. It is a very big bed with room for an endless nightmare of new monsters. I am confident the conference ended with a generous round of self-appreciation for the important work these folks are doing to keep the Godzilla of dust bunnies at bay.”

The event was hosted in part by the UWL Hate Response Team, which acts similar to a Bias Response Team and responds to bias reports submitted by students. The department states that they do not “infringe on First Amendment rights.”

UW-LaCrosse did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform.

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Similarly, UC-Boulder hosted a “Body Liberation” workshop where faculty members can learn about “societal weight-based beliefs” and size and weight “through a cultural lens,” as previously reported by Campus Reform.

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