The University of Surrey in England has introduced a new module for staff titled “introduction to race equity” that contains several examples of what it calls “microaggressions.”
The module says that criticizing China’s Covid lockdown is a form of microaggression and should be reported through the college’s online snitch system.
Staff are told not to criticize China’s zero-Covid policy because some Chinese students may feel that complying with the policy means they are “caring more about others.”
The China zero-Covid policy example in the module quotes a Chinese student telling their roommates that they “don’t understand how the government [is handling Covid] – our community’s [way of] doing this, is really different from other countries – a very, very strict lockdown.”
They add: “But you’re pretty focused on keeping yourself safe and also keeping other people safe – care more about others [by] staying at home for at least two weeks. If you look at the most serious cases, like Wuhan and the nearby areas, they controlled [the] virus pretty quickly. But we talked [about] this to our flatmates. They don’t understand this.”
Students are encouraged to report incidents of microaggressions through the portal and staff are encouraged “to seek advice from human resources regarding next steps” when they are reported.
According to The Telegraph, the university’s leadership is facing push back from staff who are accusing them of “policing conformity with controversial moral and/or political beliefs.”
13 academics at the university are seeking to have the module removed through a vote at the university’s senate, arguing it “would create significant new legal and institutional risks for the university.”
A spokesperson said that the university was “absolutely committed to protecting the academic freedom of its staff and this is a fundamental principle embedded in our university statutes. We are reforming our appraisal process for academics to better support them in their careers.
“We do not recognize this characterization of our new academic appraisal process which explicitly embeds protection of academic freedom in its guidelines, and places at its heart support for the professional development of our academics.”
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