The New Buzzword Among University Race Baiters, “Microaggression,” Includes Grammar Corrections to Essays of Minority Students

 

Several days ago, a group of students staged a demonstration in the class of UCLA Professor Val Rust. The students complained about the “toxic” racial climate in his classroom and accused him of “micro-aggressions.” As the Daily Bruin reported,

In a letter sent to colleagues in the department after the sit-in, Rust said students in the demonstration described grammar and spelling corrections he made on their dissertation proposals as a form of “micro-aggression.”

“I have attempted to be rather thorough on the papers and am particularly concerned that they do a good job with their bibliographies and citations, and these students apparently don’t feel that is appropriate,” Rust said in the letter.

The student demonstrators were responding to a recent report that investigated acts of discrimination toward minority faculty members at UCLA. That report noted the difficulty in defining “microaggression”:

Several faculty members referenced the notion of “microaggressions,” which researchers have defined as “subtle verbal and nonverbal insults directed toward non-Whites, often done automatically and unconsciously. They are layered insults based on one’s race, gender, class, sexuality, language, immigration status, phenotype, accent, or surname. It is not clear to us whether any workable definition of discriminatory conduct is capable of capturing every such microaggression experienced by a minority facutly member.

Because it is so difficult to define “microaggressions,” it is difficult for a university to prescribe them as violations of university policy. Nevertheless, as the report implies, that if a university merely investigates a microaggression (even if no one precisely knows what one is), then this will serve as a punishment the microaggressor. Further, as the report notes, the threat of investigations can serve as a deterrent to microagressions:

[F]inally, investigations might deter those who would engage in such conduct, even if their actions would likely not constitute a violation of university policy.

Although I’m not certain, I’m pretty sure that by writing this blog post I have engaged in a microaggression. We’ll see.

There are 43 comments.

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  1. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    This madness gets worse and worse. Someone in the administration should publicly call on these idiot to stop the childish whining.

    Would that all professors took the time to correct student errors in grammar, diction, and the like.

    • #1
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:18 AM PDT
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  2. Kelly B Inactive

    We could probably make pots of money opening a private university to cater to these spoiled brats – even if there are already a bunch of them in the Ivy League. Just lower the academic entrance criteria, admit solely for diversity, and hand out all As. Ignore their actual performance.

    And then just maybe the students who would like to go to college to learn something would be able to do so unmolested.

    • #2
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:26 AM PDT
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  3. genferei Member

    The lesson to take from this is how easily University administrations give way in the face of violence and violent rhetoric. It is far, far, too late to rehabilitate the academy in its current state. The right should, therefore, use the same tactics to protest every slight, real or imagined, to its agenda. Yes, this will paralyze the campus. Yes, this will destroy the institution.

    Good riddance.

    • #3
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:36 AM PDT
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  4. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    False allegations of racism is the new racism in America.

    • #4
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:37 AM PDT
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  5. KC Mulville Inactive
    Paul A. Rahe: This madness gets worse and worse. Someone in the administration should publicly call on these idiot to stop the childish whining.

    Shouldn’t this second sentence have the word [idiot] as plural?

    Oh gosh. I fell for being a bully, didn’t I?

    • #5
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:38 AM PDT
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  6. Done Contributor
    Tim Groseclose:

    Although I’m not certain, I’m pretty sure that by writing this blog post I have engaged in a microaggression. We’ll see. 

    This post seems more passive-microaggresive to me. I think you’ll be OK. If not, you are going to need your own race card to pull. Any chance you are 1/64 Cherokee?

    • #6
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:43 AM PDT
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  7. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer Member

    I disagree with the implied critique of the rampant microaggression inherent in our elitist, patriarchal culture of Dead-White-Males ®. If anything this investigation did not go far enough.

    Has no one considered the subtle verbal and nonverbal insults that result each and every time some mathematics or statistics professor marks down an assignment?

    By what right do you insist 2+2 = 4?!

    • #7
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:43 AM PDT
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  8. Brasidas Member
    Paul A. Rahe: Someone in the administration should publicly call on these idiot to stop the childish whining.

    Now, see. That’s a microaggression right there. Might even rise to the level of a mini-aggression. 

    • #8
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:55 AM PDT
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  9. flownover Inactive

    You guys are a bunch of imperialist heteronormative oppressors !

    Jeesh ! Where does a girl/guy get a drink/fix around here anyway ?

    Thanks for pointing out childish as a behaviour description. This is the same exact stuff my youngest daughter accuses me of. That and a range of effect on the universe that qualifies me as an omnipotent manipulator of all. Pretty good feeling until they start on about how I broke their phone from five hundred miles away. 

    Prof Rust needs to abandon that racist grading system and give them all the same grade, trying to think of a non=aggressive letter. Perhaps Y ?

    • #9
    • November 21, 2013, at 10:59 AM PDT
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  10. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    KC Mulville
    Paul A. Rahe: This madness gets worse and worse. Someone in the administration should publicly call on these idiot to stop the childish whining.

    Shouldn’t this second sentence have the word [idiot] as plural?

    Oh gosh. I fell for being a bully, didn’t I? · 21 minutes ago

    I need an editor.

    • #10
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:00 AM PDT
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  11. Richard Fulmer Member
    Brasidas
    Paul A. Rahe: Someone in the administration should publicly call on these idiot to stop the childish whining.

    Now, see. That’s a microaggression right there. Might even rise to the level of a mini-aggression. 

    Hmmm, interesting. This brings up the possibility of further aggression gradations: nanoaggression, picoaggression, etc. Reverends Jackson and Sharpton are salivating right along with sundry trial lawyers.

    • #11
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:00 AM PDT
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  12. Richard Fulmer Member
    flownover: You guys are a bunch of imperialist heteronormative oppressors !

    Jeesh ! Where does a girl/guy get a drink/fix around here anyway ?

    Thanks for pointing out childish as a behaviour description. This is the same exact stuff my youngest daughter accuses me of. That and a range of effect on the universe that qualifies me as an omnipotent manipulator of all. Pretty good feeling until they start on about how I broke their phone from five hundred miles away. 

    Prof Rust needs to abandon that racist grading system and give them all the same grade, trying to think of a non=aggressive letter. Perhaps Y ?

    Y? Y is probably the most aggressive letter there is. The word “yankee” starts with Y and, as everyone knows, “yankee” is another word for “American.” Americans are the most vile people to have ever walked the planet, being responsible for every ill in mankind’s history dating back to pre-history.

    • #12
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:03 AM PDT
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  13. Vance Richards Member

    If you have ever said,”Ask me anything you wish, but please don’t ax me, cause that would hurt,” you might be a micro-aggressor.

    • #13
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:06 AM PDT
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  14. Richard Fulmer Member

    I wonder to what extent diplomas from the schools that, like UCLA, cave into these sorts of demands are devalued in the job market. Diplomas awarded to minority students are probably devalued even more.

    Worse is the mindset that this fosters among students. Imagine being a UCLA graduate, joining a company, and expecting them to accept your use of non-standard English in the company documents you write. We may be rapidly reaching the point at which attending some universities makes one less employable.

    Certainly a degree in minority studies cannot be much of a resume enhancer since it would do little more than equip one to join the ranks of the professionally outraged.

    • #14
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:13 AM PDT
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  15. Crow's Nest Inactive
    Paul A. Rahe
    KC Mulville
    Paul A. Rahe: This madness gets worse and worse. Someone in the administration should publicly call on these idiot to stop the childish whining.

    Shouldn’t this second sentence have the word [idiot] as plural?

    Oh gosh. I fell for being a bully, didn’t I? · 21 minutes ago

    I need an editor. · 15 minutes ago

    What is microaggression? Well, we know it when we see it, don’t we?

    • #15
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:27 AM PDT
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  16. Nerina Bellinger Member

    This is why my oldest is attending Hillsdale and if I have my way, my four other kids will too.

    • #16
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:42 AM PDT
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  17. Aurelius Inactive

    Phenotype…as opposed to genotype?

    How does discrimination against phenotype work? That professor mistreats people with curly hair?

    Policing “microagression” dilutes the force of the charge of discrimination.

    It also coddles these students. How many employers, having to sift through 200 resumes, are willing to hire a candidate who refuses standard spelling conventions or responds to mild criticism with charges of racism?

    If their administration is not willing to enforce these basic requirements of academic study, then what confidence should people have in degrees from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies?

    • #17
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:45 AM PDT
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  18. Snirtler Member

    I am so very grateful then for my elementary grammar and high school English teachers’ micro-aggression.

    • #18
    • November 21, 2013, at 11:49 AM PDT
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  19. Frustrated iPad User Inactive

    This would certainly be a teachable moment, wouldn’t you say.

    Certainly, the simple solution is to study the problem in a scientific manner. Design a study, use blind graders, compare all the works in question. Let’s see if there really is racism in upper academia, or if it’s really BS.

    I doubt most of the whiners could design a study that would actually prove anything, and the professors aren’t going to do any work. Nothing will get resolved unless we end up taking the word of some grunge king that he didn’t fake the data. If we do believe him, then the whole thing will prove whatever he wants. He will then get a job at the census bureau.

    • #19
    • November 22, 2013, at 1:09 AM PDT
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  20. MikeHs Inactive

    Oh, brother, and my daughter is probably transferring into the UC System next year. Hopefully, she stays so busy in her science classes that she misses out on a lot of this BS.

    • #20
    • November 22, 2013, at 1:52 AM PDT
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  21. Sabrdance Member

    Grrrr.

    I just revamped all my intro classes to be essay heavy. I force my students to write 10 essays in 16 weeks. I spend 20 hours per class (2 classes) grading these essays. I mark them up, often 2 or more comments per paragraph, and dozens of corrections to style, grammar, and suggested word choice to match what they want to say with what they actually write.

    It is a hellalotta work.

    And I am thrilled to report my students -all of them, without exception all 35 in one class and 25 in the other, including my minority students (including not only African-Americans but poor Appalachians)-now write pretty good essays. Not great essays, but they have coherent theses, supporting evidence, and conclusions. Their reasoning is informally sound. Their use of language is more closely hews to what they wish to say.

    But I suppose it must be less hateful and less work to leave my students in a haze, unable to think or speak.

    At the beginning of the semester, I said the purpose of education was to make students easy to control -that was supposed to be hyperbole.

    Thank God my department isn’t like this.

    • #21
    • November 22, 2013, at 5:33 AM PDT
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  22. ShellGamer Member

    Please explain to me how anything “deters” actions “done automatically and unconsciously?”

    Clearly if whites cannot help but commit micro-aggressions against non-whites, then they must be separated. Oops, that’s called segregation. You just can’t win.

    Where are the libertarian members arguing for our 10th Amendment right to spell and punctuate as we please? 

    • #22
    • November 22, 2013, at 5:42 AM PDT
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  23. Totus Porcus Inactive
    Paul A. Rahe:

    Would that all professors took the time to correct student errors in grammar, diction, and the like. · 7 hours ago

    Of course proper English is secretly racist. Strunk & White. QED.

    If only these students would spend half the time and effort on learning grammar that they spend on inventing new forms of imaginary racism.

    But then, that’s not the point. The point is politics.

    • #23
    • November 22, 2013, at 6:24 AM PDT
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  24. Richard Fulmer Member

    Microsoft’s Word spell-checker must commit countless millions of micro-aggressions every day. That must have added up to a mega-aggression by now. Time for a “class-action suit”?

    • #24
    • November 22, 2013, at 6:43 AM PDT
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  25. Tim Groseclose Contributor
    Tim Groseclose Post author
    Blue State Blues: I’m not a minority, I am a member of the oppressing race, gender, class and sexual orientation. And I must say I’m glad I don’t ever have to worry about being insulted or corrected in any way, for grammar, spelling, math or really anything else. When you’re white, nobody ever criticizes you and nobody is ever rude or talks down to you. Isn’t it nice? · 8 hours ago

    Hmm. Definitely not my experience from professor colleagues. Kinda the opposite.

    • #25
    • November 22, 2013, at 6:44 AM PDT
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  26. Mike K Inactive

    The dumbing will continue until morale improves.

    • #26
    • November 22, 2013, at 7:00 AM PDT
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  27. EJHill Podcaster

    Racist and sexist.

    Micro.png

    • #27
    • November 22, 2013, at 7:05 AM PDT
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  28. Profile Photo Member
    Snirtler: I am so very grateful then for my elementary grammar and high school English teachers’ micro-aggression. · 18 hours ago

    I went to Catholic elementary school, and it was often macro. Sometimes at the end of a yardstick.

    • #28
    • November 22, 2013, at 7:19 AM PDT
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  29. Blue State Blues Member
    Tim Groseclose
    Blue State Blues: I’m not a minority, I am a member of the oppressing race, gender, class and sexual orientation. And I must say I’m glad I don’t ever have to worry about being insulted or corrected in any way, for grammar, spelling, math or really anything else. When you’re white, nobody ever criticizes you and nobody is ever rude or talks down to you. Isn’t it nice? · 8 hours ago

    Hmm. Definitely not my experience from professor colleagues. Kinda the opposite. · 59 minutes ago

    I thought my sarcasm was obvious. Sorry.

    My point was that if any criticism of a minority must be due to racism, it follows that those in the majority must lead a charmed life free of all criticism.

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    • November 22, 2013, at 7:46 AM PDT
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  30. Robert Dammers Thatcher

    I suspect that Peanut Butter and Jam is a nano- or pico-aggression. Except for my eldest son, who would likely suffer anaphylactic shock. Which would make it a mega-aggression.

    • #30
    • November 22, 2013, at 7:49 AM PDT
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