A professor suggested in an essay Tuesday that students who call their homework easy or explain that they already learned the content in high school were being offensive.
Ruth Starkman, a professor at Stanford University, said that these remarks could constitute microaggressions in a Tuesday Huffington Post essay entitled “How to Keep Your Competitive Edge and Your Humanity at Elite Universities,” reported Heat Street Wednesday.
“Sure, you had no ill-intent, and absolutely nothing racist in mind at all,” said Starkman. “Some super competitors aggressively shame others when they whiff the merest hint of suffering. You, however, simply haven’t registered the experiences of others around you. Had you been listening, you might have heard others describe your comment as a ‘microaggression.'”
The professor argues that competitiveness does not need to lead to “thoughtless behavior.” She instead suggests succeeding “with grace and humanity.”
“You wouldn’t say to your dearest buddy or sibling who was visibly struggling, ‘oh, it was easy,'” insisted Starkman. “Nor would you dare suggest to anyone important to you: ‘Really, you don’t know this?’ Or, ‘this is from week one,’ duh…. So, why would you say such things to the random student next to you in class?”
The professor explains that telling another student that an assignment or problem is easy because one has already learned it, “even if it’s not a lie, is also a form of bragging.” She also references “unevenly distributed knowledge” with which students come into courses and says that racial minority and first-generation students are “moving faster and working harder than most students.”
Starkman told The Daily Caller News Foundation that she uses the term “microaggresision” hypothetically in her essay.
“I’m [not] even sure what this over-used word [microaggression] mean [sic] to people,” said the professor in an email to TheDCNF. “But I do know there’s an ever-widening gap between rich and poor at Elite [sic] universities.”
“I tried to turn the conversation to civility and thoughtfulness. I’m responding to the very same students who come to my office for help on their applications complaining that self-promotion is ‘so embarrassing’ but they don’t realize they’re on self-promotion autopilot 24/7 at the university.”
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