By Corinne Murdock |
Records obtained from the University of Arizona (UArizona) revealed that its bias reporting system inspired political correctness witch hunts among students.
UArizona provided the records to a College Fix reporter after initially denying their request for all 2021 reports submitted to the Bias Education & Support Team (BEST). The Goldwater Institute, a Phoenix-based public policy research and litigation organization, sent a letter on behalf of the reporter to UArizona insisting that the university must comply with public records law.
According to the records, a group of students reported one female peer for drawing a darker-toned person picking cotton when she was given the word “cotton” to depict for an Pictionary-like online game. The group complained that they felt “deeply ashamed” of her insensitivity, and wanted the school to help her understand why her actions were hurtful and how she could grow in the future.
“While she claimed that she did not specifically denote the race of the person, the witnesses claimed that she chose a dark brown color for their skin tone,” read the complaint. “[She] claims she was only trying to make a historical reference and did not have discriminatory intent [but] several members of the zoom call told her the drawing was inappropriate.”
“Cotton” is one of the well-known “Five Cs” of Arizona’s economy, in addition to cattle, citrus, climate, and copper.
In another bias complaint, one student reported a professor for using “outdated and offensive” terms: “transsexual,” “transgendered,” and “mentally retarded” during class discussions.
“[P]rofessors should be required and expected to use the modern and correct terminology when discussing these issues, especially when there may be students in the class who have intellectual disabilities or who have friends and family who have intellectual disabilities,” wrote the student.
Another report was filed against a professor for asking a student if she had a green card after the student mentioned that her family lived in Mexico. Another report was filed against a professor who was perceived as supportive of police, failed to exhibit grief over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and discussed their deaths in the context of shared meanings between cultures.
“The classroom is not an appropriate place to discuss these matters,” the complaint read. “Supporting the police openly in class during such a sensitive time in this country, as well as during Black History Month, was completely unprofessional.”
Another complaint was submitted against a student for expressing that he didn’t want to reside in the same dorm hallway as “trannies,” slang for transgender individuals.
Goldwater Institute Vice President of Litigation Jon Riches told AZ Free News that they were pleased that UArizona decided to comply with the law, but troubled that a reporter had to obtain a lawyer in the first place.
“These were public records. It was troubling that they originally denied the request, particularly since they fulfilled a similar records request two years earlier,” said Riches. “Public records custodians will sometimes deny a request despite knowing that they should produce it, hoping the requestor will just go away. It shouldn’t require a lawyer to get involved. The information is public. We’re glad they did the right thing.”
The resistance of UArizona and government entities to records requests prompted the Goldwater Institute to launch an initiative to increase public records compliance: “Open My Government.”
As AZ Free News reported, the UArizona public records coordinator that denied the College Fix records request into BEST, Kim Fassl, has a professional connection with one of the six women leading BEST, or the “Core Team.”
Prior to handling public records requests, Fassl was UArizona’s associate director of residential education for student behavioral education. BEST Core Team leader Nina Pereira was Fassl’s superior at the time, serving as the director of residential education that oversees behavioral education.
BEST says it offers educational and dialogue opportunities, but doesn’t conduct investigations, issue disciplinary sanctions, or require any participation. However, BEST does pass on perceived student or faculty violations of UArizona’s nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy to higher administrative offices, such as the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Institutional Equity, and Human Resources.