ASU Journalism School Preaches Gender Identity, Microaggressions

March 20, 2024

By Elizabeth Troutman |

Arizona State University’s journalism school teaches students “cultural sensitivities, civil discourse, bias awareness and diversity initiatives.”

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication requires students in at least three of the undergraduate degree programs to take a course called “Diversity and Civility at Cronkite,” the Goldwater Institute uncovered. 

ASU’s online course catalog says the class “emphasizes the importance of diversity, inclusion, equity and civility to ensure all Cronkite students feel represented, valued and supported.” 

The course “Offers training and awareness on cultural sensitivities, civil discourse, bias awareness and diversity initiatives at the Cronkite School and ASU” and “Empowers students to approach reporting and communication projects with a multicultural perspective and inspire mutual respect among students from various backgrounds and beliefs within different Cronkite professional paths,” the catalog says. 

The “Learning Outcomes” on the course syllabus lay out identity categories: “By the end of this course, students will be able to … understand the value of their own and other people’s identities in terms of the work and study at Cronkite.”

The course’s seven units affirm the theme of identity. Units include “Race & Ethnicity,” “Geography and Income,” “Language & Citizenship,” “Sexuality and Gender Identity,” “(Dis)ability,” and “Differences and Conflict.”

The “Race & Ethnicity” unit includes the learning objective “Learn what microaggressions are and why they matter.” The instructor asks students to review a list of “typical microaggressions” published on a University of Minnesota webpage.

Examples of microaggressions include “America is a melting pot,” a statement that demands that people “assimilate/acculturate to the dominant culture;” “There is only one race, the human race,” a statement “denying the individual as a racial/cultural being;” “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” a statement communicating that “people of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race;” and “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough,” a statement communicating that “people of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.”

A week of the course is dedicated to discussing “sexuality and gender identity” to make students:

  • Understand the difference between sexuality and gender identity and why it matters.
  • Recognize privileges related to sexuality and gender identity.
  • Know how to ask for and why to use a person’s pronouns and the benefits of gender-neutral language.

The unit includes an assignment to read an article which defines nonbinary as “a term that can be used by people who do not describe themselves or their genders as fitting into the categories of man or woman,” and Agender as “an adjective that can describe a person who does not identify as any gender.”

Students are asked to demonstrate what they learned about gender ideology by responding to the following prompt:

“Imagine you’re working at a PR firm and you have a client whose first album is about to drop. Your client’s gender identity is nonbinary and they use they/them pronouns. They have a massive press tour planned.

How do you prepare journalists to talk with your client?”

Diversity initiatives at ASU are not limited to the journalism school. Goldwater identified more than 100 classes offered in ASU’s Spring 2024 course catalog that include terms like “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion,” or that fulfill the university’s general education requirement in “diversity.”

“To return Arizona’s public universities to their educational missions, it is imperative that the institutions themselves—or the bodies who oversee them—adopt a change in policy to eliminate politicized ‘diversity’ based course requirements such as DCC,” said Timothy K. Minella, senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy. 

Elizabeth Troutman is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send her news tips using this link.

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