A new Oxford University guidance accused students of potential racism for not looking their friends in the eyes, according to Sunday reports.
The university’s Equality and Diversity Unit newsletter includes a list of items, including a lack of eye contact, that are considered signs of “everyday racism,” reports the Telegraph.
Not making eye contact is a “micro-aggression,” as well as asking someone where they are originally from and making jokes about other’s race or nationality, the newsletter maintains. Doing these things can lead to mental heath problems and other issues.
“Some people who do these things may be entirely well-meaning, and would be mortified to realize that they had caused offence. But this is of little consequence if a possible effect of their words or actions is to suggest to people that they may fulfill a negative stereotype, or do not belong to,” the newsletter states.
The university defended the newsletter as a way to “advise and support staff” in creating a discrimination-free campus in a statement to The Telegraph.
One professor criticized the newsletter, saying it could make students “hypersensitive.”
“Essentially people are being accused of a thought crime. They are being accused of thinking incorrect thoughts based on an assumption of where they may or may not be looking,” Dr. Joanna Williams, a lecturer, told The Telegraph.
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