A program called “Understanding Implicit Bias” has been deemed mandatory at University of Virginia, though students report that it largely just accuses all students of harboring some inherent racism or sexism.
The college insists that the classes are not “political or ideological in nature,” but students who have attended the classes say otherwise. In a Campus Reform report on Wednesday, several students said that they felt the school was pushing a “liberal agenda,” as a knee-jerk response to the events in Charlottesville this past August.
Incoming students who attend the college are now required to complete an “Understanding Implicit Bias” program during their first few months on campus, which is described as a part of the institution’s “commitment to diverse, inclusive community that follows truth wherever it may lead.” The program was tested on 300 first-year students early in the semester, and has since become mandatory.
Campus Reform reports that an email sent by the Dean of Students Allen Groves described the program was “neither political nor ideological.”
“It’s empirically based on what we know about how the brain works, and Brian Nosek, one of the theory’s leading researchers, teaches in the UVA Psychology Department,” Groves stated, asking students to make completing it a priority.
The Cavalier Daily describes the module as being divided into four sections featuring instructional videos offering definitions for a variety of social justice-related terms, and word association tests. It concludes with an optional test that assesses a student’s level of bias against other races or genders. Once students complete the module, they meet with their resident advisors to talk about what they learned.
Students who took the test told Campus Reform that they weren’t happy with the exam. A student named Abigail said the program pressured “us to associate black [people] with bad things, and white [people] with good things.”
“Then they switched it, trying to prove that we would get more [questions] wrong when white people were associated with bad things.”
Another student named Nicolas described the test as “unhelpful” and “unscientific,” adding that the module was very clearly “pushing a liberal agenda.”
“It came off as rather fatalistic, because the module seemed to assert that you had an inherent bias, but that you couldn’t truly rid yourself of it,” he added. “All you could do was to mitigate the effects that your bias has on other people.”