News and Commentary

University of Arizona Teaches Students What To Say When Offended: ‘Ouch!’

Jesús Treviño, PhD, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence at the University of Arizona (yes, it’s a real job for which he’s paid $214,000 a year), released a 20-page guide designed to help students and faculty navigate the complex waters of microaggressions, microinsults, and microinvalidations. The piece is titled: “Diversity and Inclusiveness in the Classroom.”

The 20-page document is brimming with never-before-thought-of suggestions, including this mindbender: Don’t use “inappropriate humor in class that degrades students from different groups, including mocking different accents.”

Although the document is loaded with progressive nonsense, such as encouraging “dialogues” instead of “debates” because debates “have the explicit assumption that someone will win and someone will lose,” whereas dialogues “are about achieving greater levels of understanding,” one particular bit stands out above the rest as aggressively stupid:

Oops/Ouch: If a student feels hurt or offended by another student’s comment, the hurt student can say “ouch.” In acknowledgement, the student who made the hurtful comment says “oops.” If necessary, there can be further dialogue about this exchange.

This is not a joke. Jesús Treviño is being paid to teach students and faculty to behave like toddlers.

The “oops/ouch” policy not only infantilizes college students, it creates a victim/bully dynamic in which the individual who says “ouch” takes up the mantle of victimhood, forcing their counterpart to play the bully. Not only that, it demands immediate acceptance of guilt because the “bully” must say “oops,” even if he doesn’t believe that what he said was offensive. There is no mandatory exploration of innocence and guilt, simply an accusation, an acceptance of culpability, and, “if necessary,” further dialogue.

This is simply a mutation of the social justice narrative in which anyone who is offended has the right to label the individual or group by whom they were offended as categorically “wrong.” In social justice-land, the first person to cry foul is correct, and the alleged offender isn’t afforded an opinion because his views – whatever they may be – are framed by the victim as hurtful, and therefore invalid. Why explore invalid viewpoints?

This system has a chilling effect. Stating that further dialogue should only be pursued “if necessary” reinforces the alleged rightness of the victim and the idea that the individual who made the “offensive” remark has erred, and that he should feel remorseful. It doesn’t allow for an equitable exchange of ideas. Instead, it shuts down debate.

This policy is insidious, and unfortunately reflective of the times in which we live. Intellectual diversity is being targeted and eliminated under the guise of “maximiz[ing] free speech” through dialogue.