In what could have been conceived in a fit of socialist pique, the University of Arizona set a new standard for censorship. The school will now pay students to tattle on their peers.
Commonly known as “bias response teams,” universities around the country have adopted polices that encourage students to report on other students—often anonymously—when the former are offended. The directives read like a soviet training manual. Students can report when they observe “bias” in the areas of “political affiliation” or “political expression,” for example, according to a Foundation for Individual Rights in Education study.
Political views are only the beginning. At one school, students reported a professor for not using gender-specific pronouns. At another, students claimed offense when some of their peers dressed as Three Blind Mice for Halloween.
Ozarks Public Radio announced that students at Missouri State University reported 20 incidents of “perceived prejudice” this year. School officials use reports such as these to track down the offenders and even conduct official investigations.
Those who believe these teams help prevent bias or prejudice on campus should consider one report out of Missouri State in which a student was accused of posting a racially-charged message on Facebook. Except the individual wasn’t a student at the time. And this person may not have written the post at all. The bias response team’s accusations caused the university to investigate an individual with no current status on campus based on something they may or may not have written on social media. To its credit, the university dropped the investigation as details emerged, but surely the school has better things to do than chase rumors that started on the internet.
These bias response programs are not uncommon, but the Arizona Wildcats appear to be the first to create mercenaries (at the state minimum wage of $10/hour). While the university removed the job posting last week after it garnered withering criticism, the Phoenix New Times reports that officials may rename the position but keep the responsibilities the same. School officials must be hoping we won’t notice, but that appears to have already failed.
There’s no faster way to decimate a community than to reward individuals for spreading rumor and innuendo. Bias response teams create a culture of suspicion and cause frivolous investigations, not to mention the interference with free speech on campus. The Wildcats should end this experiment with paid snitches before more damage is done.