The Engineering Department has issued a course on microagressions that it says is recommended to all staff and students. The course is 15 minutes long and covers what microaggressions and microaffirmations are as well as giving examples of harmful behaviours.
The course was reported on in The Telegraph which described it as “a list of phrases to avoid on campus”. The Telegraph also quoted Toby Young, the general secretary of the Free Speech Union, who said that “protections from ‘over-reaching diversitycrats’ trying to police speech and thought are urgently needed.” and that “surely, the way to create a welcoming environment for BAME students at a university is to assure them they will be treated in exactly the same way as every other student? To hold BAME students to a lower standard than white students is incredibly patronising.”
However, Imperial staff and students seem to be behind the initiative calling it “necessary” and “not that big a deal” particularly after 28% of staff said that Imperial was not an inclusive employer.
The College also provided a statement defending the course and the messages in it. We support and defend free speech, including conversations about racism and inclusion. A video on the experiences of BAME colleagues does not ‘threaten free speech’, and we would reject any efforts to shut down these important discussions.
For more on this topic we encourage you to read the Felix article “Do you sometimes feel like you are in China?” by Isabelle Zhang in issue 1721.