A British university is paying students to spy on their classmates and report them for any language they deem to be a teeny bit offensive.
According to the BBC:
The University of Sheffield is to pay students to tackle so-called “microaggressions” — which it describes as “subtle but offensive comments”.
They will be trained to “lead healthy conversations” about preventing racism on campus and in student accommodation.
Vice-chancellor Koen Lamberts said the initiative wanted to “change the way people think about racism”.
The students will be paid £9.34 per hour as “race equality champions”, working between two and nine hours per week to tackle “microaggressions” in the university.
The university has provided some examples of what microaggressions look like:
- “Stop making everything a race issue”
- “Why are you searching for things to be offended about?”
- “Where are you really from?”
- “I don’t want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It’s nowhere near where I’m from”
- “Being compared to black celebrities that I look nothing like”
One of the student spymasters, a Malaysian girl called Santhana Gopalakrishnan, has written a piece for a left-wing freesheet explaining that there is nothing sinister or oppressive about this.
Her apologia begins:
“This isn’t about silencing people. We want to give students the tools to think critically about perceptions of racism in our society.”
She then goes on to give some examples of the kind of terrible “microaggressions” she has experienced personally and which, she claims, made her feel uncomfortable.
“How are you Malaysian? You look Indian” or “Your English is so good!” or “Do they have wifi where you come from?” and even “Is it true Malaysians live on trees?”
As well as spying on their classmates for acts of unintentional offence, the student Stasi operatives will earn their blood money in a number of other diverse ways.
But their role is broader than that. It’s also about leading healthy conversations in our student residences and across campus, using content created by a wide range of students and academic experts at the University. Students respond well to their peers so training students to lead this work feels like a way we can make a real impact.
Sheffield University has no History or German or Film Studies departments. Or, if it does, they can’t be very good ones: otherwise, someone would have pointed out by now that this was exactly the sort of thing the Stasi did in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was also the subject of film called The Lives Of Others, which won the Oscar for best foreign language movie in 2007.
And it is also a characteristic of every totalitarian regime in history, including Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany, Enver Hoxha’s Albania, Pol Pot’s Cambodia.
Nice work, Sheffield!