Leave Your Whiteness At The Door
November 30, 2012 by Sam Rolley
On the syllabus for a political science class, a professor at Butler University in Indiana directs students to leave their “American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status” at the door.
School officials, asked if the directive was made out of the assumption that white, middle-class, male students were inherently racist or misogynist, said that it simply serves to negate prejudices that may exist.
“Sometimes in order to broaden the conversation and broaden the understandings you’ve got to risk making people uncomfortable,” Jay Howard, dean of Butler’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, told The College Fix. “There’s nothing about a college education that guarantees you won’t be made uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, if you’re never made uncomfortable in your college education, you’re not really getting a college education.”
And, for one journalism student at the school, the idea of being labeled proved a little too uncomfortable.
In an article about the teacher’s policy, the student writes:
Clearly, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University believes its students were raised as racist and misogynist homophobes who have grown to harbor many prejudices, a stance that is both offensive and hostile to any student’s ability to learn.
As a student at an institution predominantly focused on the liberal arts, I expected to hear professors express opinions different from my own. I did not expect to be judged before I ever walked through the door, and did not think I would be forced to agree with my teachers’ worldviews or suffer the consequences.
Being judged and forced to act a certain way is antithetical to how any institution of higher education should conduct itself.
As a journalism major, I will now strive to avoid the liberal arts college as much as possible, not because the college fails to provide its students with any practical knowledge, but because the college seeks to indoctrinate its students with a hostile paradigm that views people like me—an American, white, heterosexual male from a middle-class background—as evil; whitey-righty need not attend.
The policy does beg the question: Does the professor not feel it is important to ask black students to leave their blackness at the door, Hispanic students to leave their ethnicity, gay students to leave their gayness? If we’re going to pretend it is about making people uncomfortable to expand our horizons, shouldn’t we all be uncomfortable?
Of course, as California State University Long Beach professor Kevin MacDonald recently learned, suggesting that being white, straight or middle-class should not come with some antique guilt will not make you popular in the field of higher education.
Update: Article corrected for proper location of Butler University.