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University casts straight, white males as ‘villains’ in skits (and other observations from freshman orientation)

Student whistleblower spills: Never laugh at anyone, ever. Gender’s not biological – it’s a choice. Questioning affirmative action equals racism.

Every year before the classes begin, thousands of students across America attend college orientations. This year, Alec Dent, a freshman at the UNC Chapel Hill, was one of them.

Apart from registering for courses, exploring the campus, and meeting classmates, Dent, 18, said he also discovered a not-so-hidden purpose of freshman orientation: politically correct indoctrination.

His public university’s orientation, for example, included “an interactive theater experience focused on diversity and inclusiveness,” comprising “four skits, each addressing a cardinal sin of the liberal perspective—racism, sexism, heterosexism, and class politics,” according to Dent, who detailed his experience in an essay for the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

“The skits set forth various scenarios,” Dent notes. “The first showed an Indian woman talking to a white friend, who unintentionally acted racist. In another, a man aggressively flirted with a woman who was clearly uncomfortable. The next skit showed two friends asking another friend of lesser means to go out to lunch and immediately assuming he had the means to do so. The final skit showed a gay man react with offense at the use of the word ‘gay’ as a derogatory term.”

“Instead of showing that all people are equally deserving of human dignity, the theater group created its own caricatures: the ‘villains’ in each of the skits were either white, male, heterosexual, middle class, or some combination of the four,” Dent added. “Perhaps, if the objective had been solely to learn how to navigate a community whose citizens hail from increasingly diverse backgrounds on ethnic, religious, and cultural lines, this exercise would have been helpful, if ham-handed.”

Next, Dent encountered another common feature of campus life: Never laugh at anyone, ever.

“The actors were told to go back to a scene where the man had his arm on the woman, clearly checking her out, while the woman looked uncomfortable. Then they switched roles. This caused some laughter, which disturbed the event leaders so much they reprimanded the crowd.”

That wasn’t all. Dent continued:

As bad as that incident was, orientation got even worse. One of my fellow students stood up and questioned how affirmative action is not inherently discriminatory. This student was a white male, and he shared his view (in an allegedly open forum) that it seemed wrong for race and gender to be a factor in college acceptance. What would it mean if, after all his hard work, he missed an opportunity because he was a white male?

His question was beyond the pale. The room gave a collective gasp and started murmuring darkly. The event leaders swiftly shut down the offending student’s line of questioning, evasively answering that affirmative action was very “loose” and the quotas weren’t stringent.

What’s more, incoming freshmen were taught “gender is fluid and so are the characteristics typically associated with genders,” Dent stated. “They went so far as to refer to audience members as ‘those who identify as male’ and ‘those who identify as women.’”

(In fact, UNC Chapel Hill officially refers to freshman orientation as “First-Year Student Orientation,” presumably to give it a gender-neutral title).

RELATED: After Told He’s Racist, UW-M Student Rejects Further Diversity ‘Training’

In an email interview with The College Fix, Dent described himself as “conservative,” but added he does not want a political atmosphere that reinforces just his point of view. Colleges were created for classroom learning and ought to be focused on AlecDentXtruth rather than subjective viewpoints and a push for conformity, he said.

While he realizes “the political environment at any university would be fairly liberal,” Dent was nonetheless surprised by the highly politicized atmosphere he encountered in his official introduction to campus.

(Pictured: Alec Dent)

“I didn’t realize quite how extensive the movement was until I attended orientation,” he said, adding: “While there exists no public ban on expressing controversial views, it is made clear that such views are not welcome.”

Despite all this, Dent said he has been emboldened by those who have reached out to him, telling him they feel the same way.

“I found that there are many other students who felt the same way about their orientation experience,” he told The College Fix. “After my article was published fellow UNC students reached out to me, agreeing with what I had to say and offering words of support. My favorite messages were from liberal students who, though they disagreed with some of the opinions I expressed, still recognized that it is substantially more difficult for conservatives to express their opinions in the environment that Chapel Hill created. They epitomized the true open mindedness I called for.”

But Dent has fielded criticism as well.

An editorial in The Daily Tar Heel student newspaper took issue with his description of the diversity skits.

“One of the wonderful things about the interactive theater performance is that none of the characters are villains. They are human,” it states. “The woman who was made uncomfortable by an aggressive man can also make homophobic comments to a gay man. That gay man can isolate his straight male friend by insisting on expensive restaurants. And so on. None are all victim or all villain, and in most cases they don’t intend to harm their classmates but do so unknowingly. … [W]e are all capable of making mistakes and harming other members of the UNC community.”

In response to Dent’s criticism, Jim Gregory, director of media relations at UNC Chapel Hill, told The College Fix: “We take his views very seriously. Student feedback is one of the most important tools we use in evaluating our programs.”

RELATED: Students Told to Disavow ‘American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality’

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About the Author
Benjamin Parker -- University of Pennsylvania