LSU Conference Forces Engineers to Take 'Microaggression' Workshop

“At one point they had us write a microaggression that we gave or someone gave us.”

Louisiana State University hosted its second annual Consortium for Innovation in Manufacturing and Materials (CIMM) RII Symposium last week, and some engineering students were confused by the addition of an hour-long workshop on microaggressions, according to Campus Reform.

A befuddled graduate student who went by the user name “CuseTiger” at TigerDroppings, a forum for LSU fans, posed the question, “Who all has had implicit bias, sterotypes, microinsults, microaggressions, and [T]itle IX training? Cause I’m at an engineering symposium in lod cook today and have been dealing with snowflakes and trigger warnings all morning. They scheduled an hour for us to learn about all this.”

CuseTiger added a screenshot of the Symposium’s agenda, which included the “workshop/panel discussion” on “implicit bias, stereotypes, microinsults, microaggressions, [and] Title IX” just before the conference broke for lunch.

“At one point they had us write a microaggression that we gave or someone gave us,” the post continued, providing several pictures of a bulletin board covered with sticky notes.

“When people learn that I am from Colorado, they assume I smoke weed,” wrote one participant, while others complained about stereotyping such as “I thought all Asians were good at math” and “You probably lived on the west side of campus, right?”

Campus Reform has more:

Sara Hernandez, the Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student Engagement at Cornell University, and Dr. Jenna Carpenter, the Dean of Engineering at Campbell University, presented the implicit bias workshop as part of their roles with CIMM’s Diversity Advisory Council (DAC).

Carpenter told Campus Reform that the DAC recommends everybody be educated about the impacts of implicit bias, asserting that “When faculty and students aren’t aware of implicit bias, they unwittingly engage in behaviors that continue the discrimination and discouragement of women and underrepresented minorities in science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines.”

Dr. Pedro Derosa, who chaired the panel discussion, agreed that “social stereotypes” are the main reason for the lack of women and minorities in STEM fields, explicitly rejecting the notion that the observed differences have anything to do with qualities inherent to any of those groups.

“When implicit biases result in entire groups being underpaid or being subjected to higher scrutiny or standards or being excluded from opportunities altogether, we have a problem,” Derosa said.

Emory University professor Scott Lilienfeld, who published a research paper earlier this year calling for “a moratorium on microaggression training” and “abandonment of the term ‘microaggression,’” told Campus Reform that this approach is more likely to “exacerbate racial tensions” by “sensitizing” students to perceived offenses. Exactly.

Rather than trying to promote diversity through such workshops on microaggressions and implicit bias, notes Campus Reform, Lilienfeld suggested that a more effective approach would be for individual professors to lead by example, saying, “Faculty need to invest more time, energy, and effort in mentoring and encouraging minorities and women.”