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Victimhood Culture and Statistics

Victimhood Culture and Statistics

Victimhood culture has arisen in its extreme form recently among groups of campus activists, but it pervades other parts of the university too. Many of the precepts — that speech can be violence, that whites can’t be the victims of racism or men the victims of sexism, etc. — come from what is taught regularly in many humanities and social sciences courses. And while it may seem that other parts of the university are immune, increasingly that’s not the case. A recent story in the Claremont Independent describes Pomona College’s Introduction to Statistics course:

This spring semester, the general Introduction to Statistics (MATH058) course at Pomona College has a new addition to its curriculum—the exploration of social justice issues. …the class uses “examples from social justice literature [to] help explain the statistics.” …. A component of the class also includes mandatory journals submitted every week that “should contain reflections on both the statistical and social justice topics covered.”

And while this kind of thing may be unusual in math and natural sciences courses, this isn’t the first example of it. An Engineering professor at Smith College, for example, received an award from the National Science Foundation “for her work on implementing and assessing critical and feminist pedagogies in engineering classrooms.” And she received another award for “combining social justice work and science pedagogy.”

Increasingly the purpose of the university seems to be to combat oppression and to empower victims. Social justice rather than truth is becoming the university’s telos, as Jonathan Haidt has noted. Every part of the university community must be on board. And “if truth conflicts with social justice, truth gets thrown under the bus.”

Photo by Officialpomonacollege (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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