Welcome to Freshman Orientation! You are going to enjoy these few days, although a lot of what you will enjoy will not be the planned events (most of which you will skip) but just hanging around, seeing the campus and the city, and getting to know your fellow students.
But choose among the official events carefully, and you will find some valuable resources.
But there is one problem: you are going to be subjected to some politically correct indoctrination. And if your social attitudes don’t conform to those preferred by the University bureaucrats that run the program, you might get put on the spot.
Marquette: On Stage
The indoctrination is centered on a set of monologues on Friday morning’s program called “Marquette: On Stage.” The stated purpose of the monologues is to heighten the “awareness” of students about certain “social issues” they will face.
A Secret Program
What will be the nature of these monologues? The bureaucrat who runs Freshman Orientation, Julie Murphy, flatly refuses to reveal the nature of the monologues. So what are they hiding?
In fact, this is a regular part of Freshman Orientation, so it’s not hard to find out what goes on. It varies a bit from year to year, but the pattern is pretty fixed.
Some of the monologues are innocuous enough: one from an actor playing a student who is pressured to drink when out with friends, another from a woman with “body image” problems, and one featuring a student who has problems with depression.
But some of the monologues are from politically correct “victim” groups. A gay guy complaining that people look at him in a funny way, or a black guy who believes a woman is uneasy when he gets on an elevator with her. Indeed, there are likely to be two or three ethnic minority monologues, each with a grievance.
So how is this biased? Mainly because only politically correct victim groups are presented as facing problems with intolerance and lack of acceptance. There will be no monologue from a white student who is derided as the bearer of “white privilege” (something that happens with some frequency at Marquette). There will be no monologue from a future cop who has to listen to leftie professors talk about how police are “racist.”
There will be no monologue from a student who is demeaned for conservative religious values – perhaps derided for believing that sex outside marriage is wrong or opposing gay marriage.
But intolerance of students who support Catholic teaching is indeed a problem on campus. This past spring, there was a huge uproar about Marquette’s refusal to hire an outspoken lesbian as Arts & Sciences Dean. Just looking at protesting students, one might think that all undergraduates wanted the lesbian dean.
But a fair number were silenced by the intolerance of pro-gay students. One Marquette senior complained on an online discussion forum: “Who would post what they actually think as their Facebook status? The answer is sadly very few, because to do so is to be labeled as an anti-gay bigot . . . and a blind follower of an ‘intolerant’ religion,” and further, “fear of labels silences the traditional Catholic voice.”
But you aren’t going to see a monologue reflecting this student’s view.
But It Gets Worse
OK, so you are forced (this program is mandatory) to sit and watch a bit of political correctness. So what?
Unfortunately, the monologues are just the beginning. Students are then herded into small groups and then required to “take a stand.” Students are asked a question about how they feel on some issue, and then required to move to one side of the room or the other, depending on their opinion. Julie Murphy claims the purpose of the exercise is to “show students that students come from multiple perspectives and multiple backgrounds.”
But that’s just not so. The real purpose is to single out and pressure students who have dissenting (non-politically correct) opinions.
Some of the questions will be innocuous, and students will split roughly equally. They will be asked to agree or disagree “I feel comfortable living in a city” or “I would feel uncomfortable if a homeless person approached me.”
But other questions are more politically loaded, such as “because of past oppression people of color should
have more scholarship opportunities.” Or “there is no such thing as bisexuality.” Or “I feel race is not an issue in 2009” (obviously, asked last year).
Or “Being gay is a choice people make.” (Think for a moment how biased that last question is. While lusting after one’s same sex rather than the opposite sex may be pretty much fixed at any point in a person’s life, having homosexual sex most certainly is a choice.)
Most of these issues have been addressed in “Marquette: On Stage,” so students know the politically correct answer and disproportionally take the politically correct side. One source told us “because they are freshmen, and because they are a little bit intimidated,
I feel a lot of students aren’t standing on the side they would stand on if they were by themselves or were with friends.” And further: “I know when I was a freshman it was very difficult for me to stand on the side that I thought was morally appropriate. . . .”
This, of course, has nothing to do with education, which would present both sides of contentious issues and not pressure people. It’s more like Stalinist thought reform.
So what should you do if you don’t agree with the politically correct crowd? Moving to the politically incorrect side of the room would be good. Refusing to move from the middle and saying “you have no damn right to demand to know what I think” would be good. And liberal students who care for free thought and expression might follow the latter course too, refusing to cooperate with indoctrination, even indoctrination in views they happen to agree with.
John McAdams is an Associate Professor of Political Science, who also runs the Marquette Warrior Blog, www.mu-warrior.blogspot.com.
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