The Ithaca College student government passed a bill last week to establish an online reporting system for hurt feelings over “microaggressions.”
Student senator Angela Pradhan, who sponsored the bill, claims the online reporting system will “make Ithaca College a safer, more inclusive and diverse community for all students,” The Ithacan reports.
Microaggressions, according to Pradhan, are “statements by a person from a privileged group that belittles or isolates a member of an unprivileged group, as it relates to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and more.”
The Facebook page “IC Microaggressions” demonstrates examples of the microagressions that Ithaca College students face. These microaggressions include phrases like, “They were dancing like they were having a seizure,” “You’re too sensitive,” and “I’M SO OCD.”
“My thing for this is not to have legal action as the immediate or first priority or first step,” Pradhan told The Ithaca Voice. “This is just a reporting system. Legal action wasn’t even at the forefront of our agenda. It’s more so that there is an actual documentation of events.”
Pradhan, however, indicated it might be possible to punish people who commit microaggresions. She says the proposed program is intended to be “record-keeping but with impact. It’s not that we are going to keep these records and not do anything about these instances.”
She added, “But it’s not to the degree that every instance will require trial or some kind of harsh punishment.”
In an interview with The Ithacan, Pradhan revealed that she personally believes the names of those allegedly committing microaggressions should be reported, but questions the legality of such a move. Kyle James, a co-sponsor of the bill, stated that in order to pursue legal action against microaggression offenders, individuals would have to mention the identities of those involved.
The only student senator to vote against the bill, Joshua Kelly, was concerned over the mere mention of legal recourse in response to microaggressions.
“The very definition of a microaggression is that it isn’t intended, so the very idea of taking legal action against somebody for not intending to say something that happened to be harmful is not my idea of living in a free society,” Kelly told The Ithacan.
The bill supporters are not sure exactly how the program will be implemented.
To keep things anonymous, it’s possible that a temporary pin system will be utilized. However, the pin would need to be connected with a valid student ID number to make sure that only students are filing reports. At the same time, the bill sponsors hope the program to be able to provide demographic information about the parties involved. The students also want to be able to report the location where the microaggressions occurred.
Pradhan admits there are still a lot of details that need to be worked out in order to implement the online reporting system. “It’s going to be a long process. I don’t think it will be within the next semester.”