Skip to comments.ASU student objects to sensitivity exercise (Assigned the identity of a gay Hispanic)
Posted on 01/29/2007 6:23:08 PM PST by paulat
ASU student objects to sensitivity exercise By David Discobing, For the Tribune January 21, 2007 Arizona State University senior Ryan Visconti was told his kind wasnt welcome that he was an abomination and an unforgiveable sinner. He pleaded to join the church, which was set up Jan. 10 as part of diversity training for ASU dormitory employees.
The role-play training took place Jan. 11, one week before the start of the spring semester.
Assigned the identity of a gay Hispanic, Viscontis persistence during the training got him nowhere. A woman with a Southern accent told him there was nothing he could do. She said he was going to hell, and that even Jesus said so in the Bible.
Visconti, a 22-year-old political science major from Mesa, called the role-play an ultra-clear example of the victim mentality and liberal bias that permeate ASU.
It crossed the line, Visconti said. All it did was reinforce the most disgusting, hateful and ugly stereotypes in our society.
Visconti said he was required to participate in the role-play for his job as a resident assistant. It was an activity that Visconti, other dorm employees and a Valley religious leader said went too far.
Even an ASU associate professor who specializes in minority relations has raised concerns about the activity.
ASU Residential Life spokeswoman Diana Medina said the role-play was designed to examine the effects of racism, classism and homophobia on different cultural and economic groups.
But Visconti said the students who designed the roleplay overlooked their own stereotypes, such as the notion that white men dont have to work for wealth because society gives them a free ride. Or the idea that Christian churches are filled with bigots, and people who support traditional family values such as heterosexual marriage are hateful and narrow-minded.
They were basically saying that if you dont feel the same way, youre wrong, Visconti said. It got to the point that if you werent a minority or gay, you were supposed to feel guilty and that everything was given to you in life.
To start the role-play, participants were handed coded index cards that indicated their race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Participants were then told to visit different life stations and create their perfect life.
The stations included booths for housing, banking, church, jail, transportation and employment.
At each stop, Visconti said he was given scripted responses based on his gay Hispanic identity. He was told he could be a landscaper and live in a ghetto apartment or be unemployed and homeless. Meanwhile, students assigned white identities were encouraged to be business executives.
According to Visconti, the exercise didnt focus on any of the positive aspects of diversity.
Thats something Madelaine Adelman, an ASU associate professor who specializes in minority relations, said can be dangerous.
Exercises like these can be powerful tools, she said. But if implemented incorrectly, they can have a harmful effect.
She said the Residential Life exercise needed to focus more on understanding and collaboration.
Its good they are incorporating this training, Adelman said. But exercises like this cant just focus on the negative. They need to highlight the differences and advantages too. It all needs to be part of a longer process. If its not constructed carefully, it exacerbates the problem.
According to Medina, the ASU exercise was modeled after those at national leadership conferences. She said ASU students designed the exercise, which was approved by Residential Life staff as a way to increase awareness and sensitivity.
But Visconti said the roleplay was based too much on extreme situations that were too unrealistic to relate to real situations.
He said the narrow portrayal of the church bothered him the most.
I am Christian, he said. And I dont think like that.
Paul Eppinger, executive director of the Arizona Interfaith Movement, a nonprofit organization that focuses on building cooperation among religious groups, said the ASU activity made unfair assumptions about the way a church would respond to a gay Christian.
There are some churches out there who might act that way, Eppinger said. But many are very open, accepting and welcoming of homosexual men and women.
Eppinger said he agrees with diversity training as a tool to bridge differences as long as the role-playing is set up in a fair manner.
Without proper forethought, he said, it will cause people to get the wrong ideas. Contact David Discobing by telephone at (480) 898-6500.
Oh, thank goodness. I thought ASU stood for "Appalachian State U."
Not that you couldn't get a goofball assignment there, of course, but at least it wasn't this one :-).
And they're wondering why the male University population is down....
ASU should get sued.
Myself, I'd have chosen homeless and unemployed -- it's just a game after all -- and simply blown the whole thing off.
Paid by tax-payers?
Wonder what they did with the Muslims?
Or Hispanics fresh from the old country, where Blacks are the lowest kind of human. And many won't even touch a Black. Guess they are afraid it will rub off.
Or Liberals/Lefties of every stripe who...oops, almost forgot they don't have mirrors in the department that came up with this little exercise.
I'd be willing to volunteer as lesbian.
Oprah said once that one day, she will have a show on the bias among blacks among skin color. (I saw the show).
She never has. Wonder if she ever will.
Wonder if, in their role-playing...they pitted light-skinned black against dark-skinned black.
Sorry...you've got to be an African-Asian-Native American double-amputee attention-deficit lesbian to qualify.
This is America. No one needs a job that bad.
"Oprah said once that one day, she will have a show on the bias among blacks among skin color. (I saw the show)."
Maybe you should remind her of that promise. Bet she never does it though.
I had a friend who auditioned for "In Living Color" (remember that show). He was turned down because he wasn't "Black" enough.
That said, if a bunch of students at a publicly funded university want to engage in one of these things, I suppose I don't have any real objection as they don't use any more university resources than any other legitimate activity. Lots of things done at universities are silly or stupid, some of them turn out to have been worthwhile, others not. That's the marketplace of ideas.
Let's take the sexual orientation out of it and just make him a meth user, like many homosexuals are.
Should the church accept his meth addiction and pretend it is a wonderful trait?
If it weren't pathetically sad, that story would be hilarious. Alas, there is nothing to laugh at here.
My husband had to do this as a college prof about 18 years ago, when it was pretty unheard of. He'd been in business, decided to switch to teaching. (Lasted for about 1/2 year!!). He said some hispanic activists came and made them take a card for a new identity, etc etc. HE came home FURIOUS, just furious. He is hardly ever that mad. I think if it were now and we were more aware of this hogwash on campus, he would have spoken up or sued. He was just livid.
I was told recently that I need not apply to teach at a High School I had been volunteering at, even tho I am credentialed in that field, because 'they wanted teachers who matched the students' racial backgrounds.' I know I matched the WHITE FEMALE students' backgrounds there. I told them I wouldn't apply to work there, if that were the case, if it was the last job on earth. hahah.
ASU student objects to sensitivity exercise
They sure missed out on a lot of fun if you are the real Betty Boop.
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