- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 26, 2016

At the University of North Carolina, it’s not just the students walking on politically correct eggshells.

Guidelines issued on the university’s Employee Forum aim to help staff avoid microaggressions in their interactions by cautioning against offensive phrases such as “Christmas vacation,” “husband/boyfriend” and “golf outing.”

The guidebook, first reported by Campus Reform, categorizes examples of potential microaggressions by “social identity group,” including race, gender and sexual orientation.

Under the “Religion” tab, the guidebook says organizing vacations around Christian holidays further “centers the Christian faith and minimizes non-Christian spiritual rituals and observances.”

With regard to “gender” microaggressions, the guidelines discourage comments such as “I love your shoes!” to female colleagues or otherwise complimenting the appearance of women.

To compliment a woman on her appearance, the guidance warns, is essentially to say, “I notice how you look and dress more than I value your intellectual contributions. How you look is really important.”

The guide also discourages staff from inviting others to play a “round of golf,” which assumes “employees have the financial resources/exposure to a fairly expensive and inaccessible sport.”

On the matter of race, telling someone that you “don’t see color” is equivalent to “minimizing/denying a person of color’s racial/ethnic experiences,” the guide says.

Microaggressions against “sexual orientation” include using the terms “husband” or “boyfriend” when addressing a female colleague, or “wife” or “girlfriend” when addressing a male colleague, instead of the asexual “partner” or “spouse.”

This, the taxpayer-funded university warns, sets “the expectation that people do not identify as LGBTQ until they say otherwise or disclose their sexual orientation.”

At faculty award ceremonies, be sure not to ask honorees to “stand and be recognized” for their achievements, which assumes “that everyone is able in this way and ignores the diversity of ability in the space.”

The Chapel Hill campus is not alone in its attempt to quell microaggressions, which ostensibly are defined as unintentional slights directed toward vulnerable groups. However, “microaggressions” often carry political implications and serve as a pretext for silencing political dissent on college campuses.

At an event last year titled “Managing Microaggressions,” students at the University of Virginia said identifying oneself as an “American” is a microaggression. Students at the University of Wisconsin last year said calling America a “melting pot” or the “land of opportunity” is microaggressive.

An editor’s note later amended to the University of North Carolina guidebook makes clear that it “does not represent University policy.”

“The piece was compiled from research and published scholarly works in response to Forum members’ interest in the topic of microaggressions,” the note says.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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