University rolls out required diversity training

A political science graduate student and Students for Liberty campus coordinator have conflicting opinions on the initiative.

First-year students, faculty, and staff will be required to complete modules on "diversity and inclusion" and "bias training".

Miami University in Ohio announced on September 6 a rollout of mandatory online diversity training for all first-year students, faculty, and staff.  

The first round of training for first-year students will take place this fall and students are required to take one module on “diversity and inclusion” and a separate module on “bias training,” according to the announcement. The modules will be completed before orientation or while enrolling during subsequent semesters.

All new hires at the university will also be required to complete the course, beginning fall 2018. The university plans to eventually institute the requirement for all existing faculty and staff, as well.

“Using Miami’s existing mechanisms, such as orientation and training programs, to combat bigotry and intolerance was a major focus of the working group’s efforts," the university explained, mentioning the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, which spawned the initiative and others.

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Miami University spokeswoman Claire Wagner told Campus Reform that although the program rolls out this fall, “budgeting for the new training initiative has not yet been determined.”

“Miami is committed to fostering an environment of inclusive excellence, where every individual is valued and empowered to fulfill their own potential,” Miami University vice president of institutional diversity and inclusion Ron Scott said in the news release. “These training sessions will provide the entire Miami community with a level of recognition of the challenges involved in creating a diverse and inclusive campus environment and help move us toward meaningful solutions.”

Political science graduate student and chair of the College of Arts and Science Dean's Student Advisory Committee Jacob Bruggeman told Campus Reform that he agrees with the introduction of the new requirements.  

“I believe that they reflect the Miami community's aspirations to be more inclusive and welcoming to students from traditionally marginalized or underserved backgrounds,” he said, adding that “just as Miami must aspire to being a campus that promotes free and open inquiry, it must also be a campus that works to accept and welcome individuals from backgrounds or demographics that, historically, haven't been very present on Miami's campus.”

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“I can't speak to the effectiveness of these trainings, and I am unsure of how much they change attitudes around diversity and bias,” he conceded, “however, implementing such trainings signals to students and the community that the university cares about changing the campus culture to be more of a home for all [of] its students.” 

Bruggeman feels that his school’s diversity goals are “absolutely worthwhile and honorable,” adding that “they signal an openness to positive change that is healthy for higher education.”However, he noted that it was important for the University of Miami to maintain a spirit of academic freedom while pursuing diversity.

Miami University campus coordinator for Students for Liberty and former school president of Young Americans for Liberty Christian Kamm told Campus Reform that he is “opposed to the way [the University of] Miami has gone about implementing these policies.”

“College students are already working hard on their classwork and actual academics. This is just more work for them that is completely unnecessary,” he said, adding that “the Golden Rule is pretty simple to follow, but if a small minority of students choose not to follow it, it doesn't give the university the right to force this training on everyone.”

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“Finally, the message of ‘diversity’ that Miami has preached to myself and my colleagues is one focused on factors like race and gender,” Kamm stated. “While I certainly think identities are important and worth celebrating, it's an embarrassment that there is no mention of intellectual diversity and a free exchange of ideas from both the left and the right at a university -- a place that exists to promote ideas and higher learning.”

“To be clear, I think that there should be punishment for those who act in reactionary manners towards others because of their skin color, gender, etc. But that should be reserved for those students alone, not the rest of us.”

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