The anti-racism seminar training at the University of Oklahoma violates freedom of speech, the non-profit organization says


A non-profit organization focused on educational freedom said that a recent anti-racism seminar organized by Oklahoma University teachers raised red flags about freedom of speech and potential indoctrination in the state’s flagship university.

At the seminar entitled “Anti-racism Rhetoric and Pedagogy”, three faculty members showed a slide on “systematic racism” and discussed the issue of promoting an anti-racist environment in the classroom. They also talked about how to “subvert the white system defense.” But at the April 14 seminar, one of the moderators, Kelli Pyron Alvarez, also asserted that students who took courses in the principles of English composition often “have the courage to become racists—just like blatant racists,” she said .

Alvarez went on to explain that teachers should prohibit students from making speech that could harm others, including “any form of derogatory speech, criticism, and hate speech” and the use of “white supremacist ideas or sources” unless, she clarified, they Used by the “anti-racism crusaders”.

Alvarez explained: “If they use any of these things, if any of them appears in their writing or comments, I will call them out,” Alvarez explained, but did not specify Define questionable ideas, sources, and comments.

Earlier in this section, Alvarez pointed out that some teachers are reluctant to take such tough measures against students’ speech, but she assured teachers that the law is on their side.

“One of the fears is that we will get into trouble because of it, right? It’s like we can’t tell students what they can’t say in class. But we can! Let me tell you how to do it,” she said. “The law stands by On the educator’s side. In the classroom, freedom of speech does not apply.”

“This Supreme Court In fact, insistence on hate speech, derogatory speech, and any kind of doctrine are not applicable to the classroom because they cannot create a productive learning environment. Therefore, as teachers, we can tell our students:’No, you have no right to say that. Stop talking now,'” she continued, possibly referring to the court’s 1988 ruling. Hazelwood School District v.Kurmayr, It believes that schools can regulate speech, as long as the actions taken by managers are “reasonably related to legitimate teaching interests.”

Students walk between classes at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma on March 11, 2015.
Brett Dilling/Getty

This particular seminar is one of nine professional development seminars held last semester for teachers and graduate students at the state’s flagship university.

The video of the seminar was made public on Tuesday after being obtained by the Personal Educational Rights Foundation (FIRE). Founded in 1999, FIRE is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and upholding the personal rights of American college students, faculty and staff. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, equality of law, freedom of religion, and sanctity of conscience-the basic qualities of freedom.

FIRE condemned the leaders of the workshops by saying that they had performed obvious censorship of the students.

FIRE’s Daniel Burnett and Sabrina Conza said: “Professors cannot abuse their power to ask students to stick to a particular point of view or ideology.”

As the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) writes, “Teachers have the academic freedom to “instruct, not instill”.

“Given that this is a workshop, teachers should be taught how to direct classroom discussions. In fact, they urge them to guide students in arguing and arguing what is acceptable. This is beginning to transform education into indoctrination,” FIRE said. Executive Director Robert Hibley. “This is disturbing because it shows that students’ rights are ignored in the classroom.”

At a certain point in the seminar, the instructor even pointed out that if any such false statements appeared in the students’ writing or comments, they should report them to the students after being named.

in spite of Weekly newspaper On Wednesday, Dr. Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, OU’s vice president and chief diversity officer in charge of diversity, fairness and inclusion, contacted the university directly and received no response, and responded to the FIRE report with the following statement:

“The University of Oklahoma clearly values ​​freedom of speech and the diversity of all opinions. In fact, these are the core elements of the university’s strategic plan and the core of creating an excellent university. OU will never support or condone its censorship.” student. The Open University is a place to teach students how to study, not what to study. We make every effort to ensure that students feel that they belong to them. “

Hyppolite went on to point out that the seminar in question is one of many professional development seminars organized by the English Department’s Composition Program, and participation is voluntary. She said that the topic of the seminar was chosen to deal with challenging teaching aspects.

However, Shibley stated that OU does not have a good track record of mandatory diversification training programs for faculty and staff. In the past, they asked participants to acknowledge that they agreed with the political views approved by the university in order to fulfill the requirements.

“Here, the inattentive attitude towards student speeches is very disturbing, because it shows that students’ rights are ignored in the classroom,” Shibley said. “What they are doing is authorizing the people who instructed this to drag UO’s official route…it crosses the line from education to indoctrination-the kind of arguments they can make, and even the kind of sources they can consult.”

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