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Professor offers college students extra credit to determine their level of 'white privilege

Campus
A San Diego State professor is asking her students to fill out a 'white privilege' checklist in order to receive extra credit. The professor said she believed the exercise helped students see things from different points of view. (Jean-Pierre Clatot /AFP/Getty Images)

What's the story summed up in one sentence?

A sociology professor at San Diego State University offered her students extra credit to fill out a"White Privilege Checklist" and then answer a series of questions regarding how they felt about their results and whether they felt other races would have different answers.

What questions were included on the checklist?

The "White Privilege Checklist" included 20 questions, and professor Dae Elliot explained to the students that the more statements they were able to check off, the higher their level of white privilege. The questions were as follows:

    1. I can arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
    2. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
    3. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my own race widely represented.
    4. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
    5. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
    6. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the food I grew up with, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.
    7. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial responsibility.
    8. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing, or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
    9. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
    10. I can take a job or enroll in a college with an affirmative action policy without having my co-workers or peers assume I got it because of my race.
    11. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
    12. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated.
    13. I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group.
    14. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk with "the person in charge" I will be facing a person of my race.
    15. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.
    16. I can easily by [sic] posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
    17. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.
    18. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
    19. I can walk into a classroom and know I will not be the only member of my race.
    20. I can enroll in a class at college and be sure that the majority of my professors will be of my race.

What was the professor's response when asked to comment?

Elliott told The College Fix she believed the exercise helped students see things from different points of view:

Only through processes that allow us to share intersubjectively, weigh all of our perspectives according to amount of shareable empirical evidence can we approximate an objective understanding of our society. It may never be perfect, in fact, I am sure we will always be improving but it is a better response if we are truly seekers of what is truth, what is reality. In a society that values fairness, our injustices that are institutionalized are often made invisible.

How did conservative students react?

San Diego State University College Republicans President Brandon Jones had a different take.

"This is another attempt by the left, and Professor Elliot to divide America. The left’s political goal is to ensure that minorities in America perpetuate that their primary problem is white racism," he told the Fix. "This only furthers the portrayal of minorities in America as victims and does nothing to help contribute to their advancement in society."

Why does this checklist look familiar?

Just last week, a professor at a community college in California handed her students a four-page, white-privilege checklist — containing the same questions — while simultaneously instructing her students that stereotyping in her classroom would lead to punishments such as being barred from class, losing participation points for the day, or being referred to the school's dean of students.

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