The University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom announced that it's hiring students to monitor and stand up to "microaggressions" on campus as well as language deemed racist, BBC News reported.
What are the details?
Due to demand from the student body, 20 "race equality champions" will work two to nine hours weekly for a little over $12 per hour (U.S.) to challenge wrongdoings — and will be trained to "lead healthy conversations" about preventing racism on campus and how "to help their peers understand racism and its impact," the outlet said.
The school said microaggressions are defined as "subtle but offensive comments" that might be unintentional but can upset minority groups, BBC News reported.
Examples of microaggressions, the outlet said, include phrases like:
- "Stop making everything a race issue."
- "Why are you searching for things to be offended about?"
- "Where are you really from?"
- "I don't want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It's nowhere near where I'm from."
- "Being compared to black celebrities that I look nothing like."
Vice chancellor Koen Lamberts told BBC News the idea is to "change the way people think about racism" — and rather than wanting to control speech, the university says it's "opening up a conversation."
The Equality and Human Rights Commission last fall warned that racism was a "common occurrence" among some students, the outlet said, adding that examples included name-calling, physical attacks, and racist material on campus.
One might say speech in the U.K. isn't protected nearly as well as it is in America:
- Cops in Wales warned people to stop making fun of a drug dealer's hair or face possible prosecution.
- A U.K. psychology lecturer and psychotherapist said using "slurs" against those with high IQs — such as "nerd" or "geek" or "egghead" — should be called hate crimes.
- A British mother said she was arrested in front of her two children for harassment and malicious communications and placed in a cell for seven hours after referring to a transgender activist as a man.
Interestingly, a recent poll found that among U.S. millennials, 51% believe hate speech should be against the law — so one can imagine the percentage in the same age group in the U.K. with its laws against certain kinds of speech.