I no longer laugh at incidents like this on college campuses. Instead, I am overcome with pity that the bright young minds of America are subjected to this twaddle.
Students at Gustavus Adolphus College were shocked to wake up one morning and discover flyers posted all over campus. The flyers read like something created by a deranged racist skinhead:
Of course, the anti-racist brigades tried to do outdo each other in expressing their outrage.
But all is not as it appears. The school’s Diversity Council admitted in a Facebook post that they were responsible for the offensive flyer. It was part of a series of events they are calling — not joking — “Invisible Theater,” which is designed to make students aware of bias and racism.
One alumna even posted on Facebook that her cousin had discovered the signs at Beck Academic Hall and reported it to the school’s Bias Response Team, remarking that “it isn’t much of a surprise something like this was posted” at that particular building.
She then goes on to urge alumni to express their disgust with professors they know who have class in Beck, and even asks faculty members to “take five minutes from tomorrow’s lesson plan to talk about how fucked up this is with their students.”
But the following day, March 21, that same alumna took to Facebook again to explain that a friend of hers, who had also filed a complaint with the school’s Bias Response Team, had received a response from Dean of Students Jones VanHecke explaining that the offensive flyers were actually “part of a series of educational ‘invisible theater’ events taking place this week that have been planned by I Am We Are theater troupe, the Diversity Leadership Team, and the Bystander Intervention Committee.”
“I cannot thank you enough for the action that you have taken by filing a report and making sure that the incident was brought to the attention of the college,” VanHecke continued, saying that taking action “as a bystander demonstrates that Gustavus students care about each other and their collegiate environment and are willing to take a stand against hate and bias.”
In response to the outrage over the flyers, the Diversity Leadership Council published a statement the night the posters surfaced admitting that members of the organization had “posted these signs” in “an effort to help educate [their] peers and campus community about issues of bias, and the importance of being an active bystander.
“We want to help put an end to bias-related incidents that happened on our campus, social media, and in our communities by forcing individuals to have dialogues about forms of hate and bias,” the statement continues. “We hope that members of the campus community will reflect on today’s events and join us in ensuring that no one student or group of students are ever a victim of this form of discrimination.”
Perhaps it would have been helpful to list some of those “bias-related incidents” that inspired the creation of this bit of “invisible theater”? Perhaps the bias, too, is invisible?
This is not about solving a problem, even though racism and bias exist on college campuses as they exist almost everywhere in America. This is about creating the need for a Diversity Council. If there are few actual racist incidents, perhaps the school should rethink its approach to dealing with the issue. Groups that need to create a problem to justify their existence are obviously not necessary.
National Review’s Katherine Timpf wonders what would happen if the same technique were applied to “educate” the campus about rape.
What if someone had, “to educate” the campus about rape culture and sexual assault, posted a bunch of fake flyers around campus saying that rape is okay? Do you think that that would make people want to talk about rape culture more seriously? Would any “dialogue” that might have happened because of those signs actually help a victim of assault in the future? The answer to that is an obvious “no.” The truth is, there is no better way to encourage people to dismiss your cause than to do something in the name of it that they can rightfully dismiss.
The warped minds that came up with this idea need a generous dose of therapy to rid themselves of their own demons.