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Ph.D candidate has meltdown over required diversity training
September 30, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
If Jason Morgan, a Ph.D candidate in history at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, had any dreams of becoming a tenured history professor at a state university, those dreams probably went up in smoke last week. On the bright side, he may well have a promising career at a conservative think tank or on some ultra-right Republican candidate's political campaign, though that's an awful lot of student loan money thrown down the rabbit hole to be a political hack.
Still, his conservative hissy fit, which can be found at http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/14698/, is one of the more entertaining burning of career bridges I have seen.
On Sept. 22, Morgan, irked by the diversity training seminar he and other teaching assistants were required to attend on Sept. 20, sent a letter of protest to the director of the graduate school. He thoughtfully forwarded the e-mail to several media outlets.
"What we were given, under the rubric of "diversity," was an avalanche of insinuations, outright accusations, and suffocating political indoctrination (or, as some of the worksheets revealingly put it, "re-education") entirely unbecoming a university of our stature," Morgan wrote. "... In an utterly unprofessional way, the overriding presumption of the session was that the people whom the History Department has chosen to employ as teaching assistants are probably racists."
The next diversity training session, which Morgan told the graduate director he will not be attending because he has far more important things to do, is a presentation on transgender students.
"Everyone is welcome in my classroom, but, whether directly or indirectly, I will not implicate myself in my students' fetishes, whatever those might be," wrote Morgan. "What they do on their own time is their business; I will not be a party to it. I am exercising my right here to say, "Enough is enough." One grows used to being thought a snarling racist–after all, others' opinions are not my affair–but one draws the line at assisting students in their private proclivities. That is a bridge too far, and one that I, at least, will not cross."
Of course, that's assuming Morgan still has a class to teach.
I don't necessarily agree with Morgan, since I think future professors really ought to have some understanding of students from different backgrounds and should make every effort to teach them effectively and help them feel comfortable in the classroom. But there's also little doubt that the diversity training that is now de rigueur at many colleges and universities sometimes goes overboard. I dare say that there are some professors and teaching assistants who might share some of Morgan's views and roll their eyes at having to attend diversity training, but most of them are far too smart to say so. Those who want to become full professors must put up with a certain amount of nonsense.
What do you make of Morgan's rant and future career prospects?
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