Sensitivity Training only goes one way!
ASU student objects to sensitivity exercise
By David Discobing, For the Tribune
January 21, 2007
Arizona State University senior Ryan Visconti was told “his kind” wasn’t welcome — that he was an abomination and an unforgiveable sinner. He pleaded to join the “church,” which was set up Jan. 10 as part of diversity training for ASU dormitory employees.
The role-play training took place Jan. 11, one week before the start of the spring semester.
Assigned the identity of a gay Hispanic, Visconti’s persistence during the training got him nowhere. A woman with a Southern accent told him there was nothing he could do. She said he was going to hell, and that even Jesus said so in the Bible.
Visconti, a 22-year-old political science major from Mesa, called the role-play an “ultra-clear example” of the victim mentality and liberal bias that permeate ASU.
“It crossed the line,” Visconti said. “All it did was reinforce the most disgusting, hateful and ugly stereotypes in our society.”
Visconti said he was required to participate in the role-play for his job as a resident assistant. It was an activity that Visconti, other dorm employees and a Valley religious leader said went too far.
Even an ASU associate professor who specializes in minority relations has raised concerns about the activity.
ASU Residential Life spokeswoman Diana Medina said the role-play was designed to examine the effects of racism, classism and “homophobia” on different cultural and economic groups.
But Visconti said the students who designed the roleplay overlooked their own stereotypes, such as the notion that white men don’t have to work for wealth because society gives them a free ride. Or the idea that Christian churches are filled with bigots, and people who support traditional family values such as heterosexual marriage are hateful and narrow-minded.
“They were basically saying that if you don’t feel the same way, you’re wrong,” Visconti said. “It got to the point that if you weren’t a minority or gay, you were supposed to feel guilty and that everything was given to you in life.”