Illinois State Set For Microaggression Intervention Training

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David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Microaggression intervention at Illinois State University (ISU) all about stopping microaggressions at the source, before they can lead to a full-fledged insult.

The College Fix reports that ISU is unveiling its “bystander training program on microaggressions” that will begin “later this year,” possibly in time for the fall/winter session.

According to campus spokesman Eric Jome, “The program presentations will help to define what microaggressions are and provide strategies for people who encounter them in social, classroom, or professional settings.”

ISU first referenced the program last fall in a news release that heralded its solution to a supposed microaggression crisis on campus where “women and students of color described experiencing microaggressions, both in the classroom and on-campus. In that report, participants described frequently feeling isolated, invalidated, and stereotyped.”

With this claimed environment of “chronic” racism “being linked to depression, autoimmune disorders, and other disorders that compromise the body’s ability to maintain wellness,” the university decided to take action.

“As members of the Redbird community we should all be aware of microaggressions and be prepared to intervene.”

The resident expert on microaggressions is Dr. Jason Vasquez, who works as a psychologist at the university’s Student Counseling Services as well as being co-founder of the school’s Voices of Discovery, where he “leads workshops in understanding microaggressions, privilege and power, and bias and discrimination.”

Vasquez described his idea of intervention training for microaggressions: “We need to be willing to have difficult dialogues to create an understanding of and empathy for one another. If you find yourself in a situation where you have committed a microaggression try not to get defensive towards the individual speaking up.”

He warns against resorting to “invalidating comments like, ‘You’re too sensitive!'”

When asked by The College Fix why ISU requires more microaggression training, university spokesman reiterated his talking points: “the program is being instituted as part of Illinois State’s efforts at raising awareness on diversity issues and being a welcoming and inclusive campus for all students and faculty,” he said.

ISU is already “raising awareness” of microaggression intervention.  Last autumn there was a workshop on campus that offered training “to identify microaggressions and explore the role they play on our campus … and how best to respond when a microaggression occurs.”

The taxpayer-funded university has also taken the microaggression lead with its “Task Force on Culturally Responsive Campus Community” designed to make things more inclusive at ISU.

The task force nosed about the university in search of microaggression evidence and found students of color enduring “isolation, invisibility, marginalization, and a sense of needing to change themselves in an effort to make their white peers feel more comfortable.”

The need for more “safe spaces” was also a consistent complaint.

In a special microaggression session just for faculty members at ISU, one professor from the school of social work confessed to reading a student’s course assessment that revealed she was “drowning in a sea of whiteness.”

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