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University of South Florida may soon require ‘oppression bias’ training for new students

Considers requiring anti-bias education because black activists demanded it

The University of South Florida is exploring a required anti-bias training for all new students in response to a demand from its Black Student Union.

“USF’s Dean of Students Office is considering the purchase of a module on anti-bias from the education technology company EverFi as a requirement for incoming USF students,” the student paper The Oracle reported. The public university currently requires new students to take EverFi courses on financial literacy, alcohol and sexual assault.

Emmanuel Harvey, the president of the Black Student Union, said his group has been advising the administration on racial issues.

“We are students and we do this for free, so we can’t do the work for administration, because we don’t get paid to and that’s not fair to us. So we basically advise them [on actions and policies],” he told the Oracle.

The group did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment from The College Fix in the past two weeks. The Fix asked what topics the group wanted to see covered in the new module and if it wanted to see all students take the training.

A university spokesperson provided information on the goals of the training and said the school is exploring several options.

“Incoming freshman will initially be required to complete the anti-bias module as part of other Life Skills modules, such as Financial Literacy 101 and Sexual Assault Prevention, which are included in their orientation to campus,” Althea Paul, a spokesperson for the university, said via email to The Fix. “The module would also be available for all students.”

Paul said some aspects of the program are still in the works.

“The module aims to educate students on diversity, equity and inclusion. The university is reviewing modules created by a few other companies and is also considering developing our own if they do not meet our needs,” Paul said in response to a question on the topics covered by the proposed training module.

MORE: University of South Florida bans gatherings except for Black Lives Matter

Paul followed up with a link to the module that university officials are testing.

The “Diversity and Training for College Students” module is a 45-minute program that covers topics such as “oppression bias and unconscious bias,” “identity transitions” and “power and privilege,” according to the EverFi website description.

EverFi’s listed representative, Jennifer Edgerly, did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment in the past two weeks. The Fix asked what the measurable benefits from using its bias module are and how many other schools currently use it.

Winston Jones, the associate dean of students at USF, said in the campus paper that if the school does proceed with the purchase, then the module will be made a part of the school’s learning program by the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Jones said he hopes that by implementing this course USF students will learn more about diversity and inclusion.

“One of the purposes of the module is to educate our students on diversity, equity and inclusion, and also to create benchmarks that will allow us to understand where our students are and how much progress we are making to educate our students,” Jones told the paper.

The Fix did not receive a response to two emailed requests for comment from Jones in the past two weeks.

The Fix had asked him what kind of training the module would entail as well as why only new students would be required to take the new module and if there were any other modules the school would be adding.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education gave the public university high marks for its black graduation rates, which are often among the top in the nation.

A paper from The Education Trust, an advocacy group, found that the public university ranked sixth out of 700 schools for “Top-Performing Institutions for Black Students.”

MORE: UC Berkeley student senate supports mandated xenophobia training

IMAGE: Rob Wilson/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Asher Notheis is a student at Liberty University majoring in journalism. He writes for his school’s paper, The Liberty Champion.