The Office for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence at the University of Arizona has a new solution to addressing micro-aggressions in the classroom: the “Oops/ouch” method.
In a new guide titled “Diversity and Inclusiveness in the Classroom,” professors are encouraged to foster dialogue between students by utilizing the two-term method. “If a student feels hurt or offended by another student’s comment, the hurt student can say ‘ouch,’” the guide states. “In acknowledgement, the student who made the hurtful comment says ‘oops.’ If necessary, there can be further dialogue about this exchange.”
The guide also proposes a number of micro-aggression scenarios that faculty should seek to avoid. One such example would be singling out a particular student who is male, even if he has lots of great answers to the question. Saying, “Let’s call on John again. He seems to have lots of great responses to some of these problems,” could be considered offensive to female students under these new guidelines and should be avoided.
Additionally, the new guidelines warn against stereotyping all students as being users of Facebook. Addressing the class by saying “All you millennials are on Facebook, so I will post the evite for the class project on the site,” could stigmatize non-traditional students that don’t use Facebook and such terminology should be avoided.
While the guidelines are considered voluntary for professors, it also warns them that students entering college, “without the tools to engage in classroom discussions or to interact with other students, in particular with students from diverse backgrounds.” The guide goes on to say that “this task is not easy and requires special skills and techniques.”
The guide did include one good point however, relating to free speech in the classroom. While a large portion cautions faculty about offensive speech and encourages them to step in when necessary, it also warns them against imposing their beliefs or views on students in a way that could stifle freedom of expression in the classroom.
“As a faculty member, when you express your views to students you are doing so out of a position of power,” the guidelines read. “That is, students may be afraid to express themselves given that they know your position on an issue and that their grade may be on the line.”
The situation of faculty censoring conservative beliefs in the classroom has happened before at the University of Arizona, with one UA professor calling the Trump Presidency “the definition of rape.” One can only hope that UA faculty would interpret this new guidelines as a call to be more tolerant to students with conservative beliefs.