A University of Wisconsin professor of English has taken a novel approach to dealing with those youngsters who are offended by differing opinions.
James “Duke” Pesta, associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, has come up with a 2 page contract which each of his students is required to sign upon taking any of his courses.
The contract says in part:
“In this course, we study literature from cultures that existed before you were born. Their world is not our world. Their beliefs may not be our beliefs. No one asks you to believe or endorse any premise, attitude, precept, theology, political system, or ideology contained in these books or expressed in class. Nor will you ever lose points or be docked grades because of your opinion (written, oral, or otherwise),”
“We will not malign or trivialize these texts because they do not always parrot our values. We will not assume these books are racist, sexist, or homophobic because of the period in which they were written, or because of the race, class, gender, or religion of the authors,” the contract also says, the outlet reported. “People who approach alien cultures with such preconceived notions are bigots masquerading as critically sophisticated advocates, often in the name of ‘social justice.’ Persons who so diminish the past are neither social nor just, especially when they compel students to adopt their biases.”
Pesta has used either this contract or a similar contract for the past 8 years. Pesta, a conservative Republican, admits that it troubles him that such a contract is needed in the 1st place, calling it “appalling from an educational standpoint”. Pesta then goes onto say: “But I have come to realize that they may have more utility for professors than students. It’s one more way to try and indemnify yourself from malicious and unfounded complaints by driving away at the outset students who only want their own preconceived ideas validated”.
The contract also states in part:
Please drop the class immediately if you are triggered by free speech, the free exchange of ideas, or people who express and defend ideas or opinions that differ from your own.
Please drop the class immediately if you are triggered by open, direct, and adult discussion of issues, including but not limited to issues of faith, war, violence, race, gender, and sexuality.
Please drop the class immediately if you are triggered by recurring encounters with heterosexuality, traditional gender identities, sympathetic representations of Christianity (or religion in general), positive examples of free markets or capitalism, or unapologetic encounters with patriotism, hierarchies, or meritocracy-based institutions or attitudes.
For the past 8 years, students are signing this contract. According to Pesta, no student signing up for his courses have refused to sign this agreement. Wow what a novel concept – young adults in a place of higher learning being required to hear the different viewpoints of others.