Bowing to student activist pressure, Iowa State University is planning in the new year to force staff members to undergo politically correct anti-racism training, as well as require students to undergo “inclusion” training after a series of incidents on campus.
The move comes as racial sensitivity training and training aimed at eradicating so-called white privilege becomes an increasingly controversial topic in the nation’s schools. Critics characterize such efforts as leftist, multiculturalist indoctrination, and in some cases, liken them to forced ideological reeducation. Supporters of such training say so-called hate speech must be opposed.
The Ames-based university eventually capitulated to demands from student group Students Against Racism after more than 100 students stormed the office of school president Wendy Wintersteen on Oct. 30 to protest messages written in chalk on campus that were described as neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic.
“We’ve done protests before and nothing changes,” sophomore Alexa Rodriguez said at the time of the storming, according to Inside Higher Ed. “We decided, ‘Hey, we need to make this big, we need to call attention to this to have that power to then have the administration listen to us.’”
Students were also reportedly triggered after a student government adviser posted an old photo of himself on social media in which he was wearing blackface as an actor in a play. In 2018 a Wi-Fi router with a racist name reportedly surfaced near the campus. A sign was altered so the word “bean” became “beaner,” which is understood to be an anti-Mexican slur based on that country’s cuisine.
Only the broadest details have surfaced of the mandatory trainings that will begin in coming weeks.
Iowa State’s president, senior vice presidents, deans, and high-ranking administrators will be required to undergo “cultural competency and cultural humility training before the start of spring semester 2020,” The College Fix reports. In the context of education, cultural competency refers to the multiculturalist perspective that American culture is no better, and in some cases worse, than all the other cultures in the world which, it teaches, are worthy of respect.
In the approaching semester, Iowa State’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching will “conduct annual training for faculty in each academic department on the importance of, and approaches to, creating an inclusive classroom environment,” according to the university. The school’s hiring and tenure systems will also be subject to “diversity, equity and inclusion training.”
In addition, “everyone who lives in a residence hall will be required to take annual online diversity, equity, and inclusion training,” according to the university.
“The university is still exploring options,” Iowa State spokeswoman Angie Hunt told The College Fix. “We are evaluating existing programs on campus as well as training offered by other organizations.”
Campus police are working with the Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement (RITE) Academy “to provide a classroom session for department leaders in December and all officers in the spring,” Hunt said.
Orlando, Florida-based RITE Academy LLC, a private business, says on its website that “RITE helps to reinforce the company culture of treating everyone fairly, in a professional manner. Learning to value others, is key to building a professional workplace culture, that will be passed on for years to come.”
RITE defines “racial intelligence” as “the practice of using Emotional Intelligence (EI), Social Intelligence (SI) and the RITE Tools to treat ourselves and others fairly.”
Students Against Racism had called for Iowa State to shut down a “Students for Trump” club it accused of racism.
The school countered that no such student organization was recognized on campus and that even if it had been, “We cannot punish individuals for having bigoted or hateful thoughts or even expressing bigoted thoughts or hate speech. … as a part of State Government, Iowa State University is obligated to uphold the First Amendment.”