Students May Need Counseling After ‘Required’ Diversity Training


By Celine Ryan

Minnesota State University will have counselors standing by to comfort “student leaders” who have an “emotional response” after being required to attend a new diversity training.

MSU announced Wednesday that two new 90-minute workshops on social justice and diversity are being implemented for “student leaders” this fall, noting that staff/faculty supervisors are expected to “make this training required.”

“Counseling staff from Hendrix will be available to speak with students who need to leave the training to talk during or after the program.”   

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While the announcement does not provide a comprehensive definition of what constitutes a student leader, it does state that “examples of student leaders/workers include: Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Office Assistants, Resident Assistants, Student Orientation Counselors, etc.”

The announcement itself does not explicitly state that the workshops will be mandatory, saying only that “we encourage faculty and staff to send their student leaders and student workers to both training sessions.”

A supplementary document provided within the announcement, however, states that staff and faculty supervisors are “expected” to “make this training required for student leaders and stress the importance,” as well as “encourage student interaction during the trainings” and “require students to complete pre- and post-training surveys.”

The same document also lists desired learning outcomes for participants, saying that upon completing the workshops, it is expected that students will “be able to define core diversity and social justice concepts, including privilege, oppression, and microaggression,” as well as “recognize areas where they have privilege and how this shapes their experiences and interactions.”

Students will also “analyze how intersecting identities shape systems of power on individual and institutional levels in our everyday lives,” and will be taught he importance of “proactively responding to discrimination and navigating difficult dialogues.”

The first training, “Social Justice 101,” will focus on “core concepts of critical social justice, including identity, privilege and oppression, intersectionality, and microaggressions, while the second training will tackle “racism, sexism, and LGBTQ issues.”

The university warns that the second workshop may be triggering for some students, in that it “contains scenes that represent real life situations that may cause discomfort, anxiety, or an emotional response,” and “may include explicit or vulgar language.”

Out of concern that the training may too closely depict uncomfortable “real life situations,” the university promises that counseling staff will be on site “to speak with students who need to leave the training to talk during or after the program.”

Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan

First published at Campus Reform

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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