The New School Issues Guide On Microaggressions, Including Use Of Small Seats Or Sitting Away From Homeless People

imagesI have been a long critic of the erosion of free speech on college campuses and the use of the ill-defined concept of “micro aggressions” to sanction students and faculty alike.   Those concerns were magnified with the release of a guide by The New School, a university in New York City, on avoiding microaggressions.  There are now a variety of such aggressions from “microinsults” to “microassaults” to “microinvalidation.”  Microaggressions can now include having seats that are deemed too small or sitting too far from a homeless person on the subway.

Microaggressions as “brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or not, that communicate a hostile, derogatory, or negative slight or insult toward a targeted group.”  We have discussed that ambiguous standard before, including at a school where the failure to maintain eye contact has been defined as a microaggression.


A microassault is defined as “explicit degradation characterized primarily by a violent verbal or nonverbal attack meant to hurt the intended victim through name-calling, avoidant behavior, or purposeful discriminatory actions.”  This includes “getting onto a subway car and sitting as far as possible from a black man, a homeless person, etc.”

However, there is hope if you come forward and address your microaggressions.  The manual says “Congratulations! You realized that you microaggressed” and suggested redemptive steps.

My problem with this new array of improper language and actions is that they are highly ambiguous and often depend on how they are received as opposed to how they are intended.  There are valid concerns about language that insults or demeans others.  However, microaggression rules are now being used to continue the crackdown on free speech on our campuses.  What someone considers insulting can vary widely and the notion that students need to be actively protected from any slight can have an impact on the educational environment and mission. No one wants to appear insensitive or someone who has “microaggressed.”  So, most faculty have remained silent as these nebulous rules are promulgated and enforced.  As these rules spread, more and more language is being denounced as microaggressive and we now see the expansion of proscribed language into areas of “microinsults,” “microassaults,” and “microinvalidation.”

Here is the manual.

82 thoughts on “The New School Issues Guide On Microaggressions, Including Use Of Small Seats Or Sitting Away From Homeless People”

  1. As you said, the way microaggressions are being defined might be going a bit too far.
    While I am glad that intention to bother, hurt, or exclude others is not usually accepted, I don’t think this should take from a person’s freedom to make mistakes or have a bad day.
    I’m sure we can find a way to be a little more forgiving with others’ “microaggressions”, as long as they are not intentional.

  2. Weird. Who defines what is a micro-agression? If a woman chooses to sit at a distance from a man because she has had the experience of being groped by men in the past at arm lengths distance, is that a micro-aggression against the man? If a man sits immediately beside a woman, and then spreads his legs to make her uneasy, is that a micro aggression against the woman?

    1. conartistorcracy – Taylor Swift won her groping trial yesterday and was awarded $1 in damages. Evidently, that is how much it cost to grope Taylor Swift. 😉 Game on!!!!

        1. conartistocracy – my wife tells me that Taylor Swift was only asking for $1 in damages to begin with. I do not know this is true, my wife is an unreliable narrator. 😉

          1. If all the girls and women in poor, misogynist cultures got $1 every time they were insulted by a strange man it would go a long way to alleviating female poverty. On the other hand there are the ridiculous payouts to higher social class women who imagine they have been insulted. But this is slightly off topic.
            Everyone needs social space. People close the distance to attack, sexually molest, mugg and pickpocket. A small number of prolific male sex pests who don’t keep their hands to themselves make women who have received their unwanted attention wary about proximity to men – especially when a man deliberately sits beside you when there are plenty of empty seats. If the woman gets up and moves, will she now be accused of micro-aggression? This is the game of the attacker/molester, so shift blame onto the victim.

            1. conartistocracy – I think with Taylor Swift it was situation, he was in the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time. This also occurs on the subway. They are so packed at some points that there is no personal space. If I had a daughter, I would pay to Uber her home.

                1. conartistocracy – I think loss of personal space in NYC is less important than say Memphis. New Yorkers are used to living packed in like sardines. Now, out in fly-over country, personal space is valued.

  3. Mike Rowe aggression? I always thought Mike seemed like a nice guy. Sure he talks about dirty jobs, but not in an aggressive way.

  4. So if a really attractive women won’t maintain eye contact with me that’s a microaggression? Are there any suggested punishments like a spanking. I hope it is not men who are responsible for this kind of stuff, I would be embarrassed for them.

    Perhaps aliens have taken over our society? They surely must be from a different solar system. Not even the Venusians would be this ridiculous.

    1. So if a really attractive women won’t maintain eye contact with me that’s a microaggression?

      Again, this is feministworld we’re talking about. In feministworld, women have options; men have obligations.

  5. ” We have discussed that ambiguous standard before, including at a school where the failure to maintain eye contact has been defined as a microaggression.”

    Who ever defined failure to maintain eye contact as a microaggression must have no appreciation for diversity or must be completely ignorant that in some communities maintaining eye contact for more than a very brief interval will be treated as a challenge and greeted with any number of unpleasant suggestions if not outright violence.

    This PC stuff is really hard. I am glad we have real academics working on it.

    Which to choose? Which to choose? Fail to maintain eye contact and be turned in to school authorities or maintain eye contact and get punched out?

    You want some of this? Then step to me. Step to me now!

  6. Microaggresion is aggression against micros; microorganisms. In other words, antibiotics.

    Yes, too much builds resistance to later treatment. Just the necessary amount of microaggresion, thank you very much.

  7. In days of old when knights were bold and rubbers weren’t invented. We tied a sock around the crock and babies were prevented.
    What would these people who write this tribe stuff think about condom machines in all the bathrooms? Mens and womens, boys and girls, fags and slags?

  8. I find it hard to believe an educated man such as Prof. Turley wasted valuable time writing about this BS.

    The proper response to this nonsense is “Bug off!” And then ignore the idiots.

  9. I am microaggrieved by the terrible character design in The New School’s logo. In particular, the Hs and W are microaggressions and the N and L are nanoaggressions.

    1. I just grimace and quickly look away. Whoever committed that understood nothing about font design.

      1. The New School is a school for the arts and produces some of the best fashion, interior and arts designers in the country. So, yeah, I’m thinking the designer knew about font design. You can grimace at what they did, but I wouldn’t say it was out of a lack of knowledge.

  10. Aggression is in the eye of the beholder. Like Eric Holder. A micro aggression is a serious thing. People in France are afraid of French toast. People in Britain are afraid of their Queen. People in Russia are afraid of their Putin. People in NY are afraid of their subways. People who eat at Subways are afraid of McDonnels. People in Hamburg, Germany are afraid of hamburgers. It goes on and on.

  11. Such utter and unadulterated nonsense.!!
    These people, who are making rules for the rest of us, should put their heads in to their books and attempt to educate themselves. It may be worthwhile, to make an appointment to visit with the College Psychiatrist,
    before it’s too late, too.
    This is what we pay exorbitant fees to Colleges for, ? This indoctrination, crap.? I don’t think so.!!

    1. To avoid small seats.

      That is advice to the obese and those who are just too big. Hmm, I suppose that sentence constitutes a microaggresion?

  12. Just watched a guy on cspan…..wages are down 2 percent to college employee….as endowments are way way down…even tho the market up on Funds that should come in. ….like when a birmingham college started a trans chapter….the baptists said hell no…no more money. Unless the feds mandate such nonsense….private schools will soon compete…and parents ts aren’t fixing on sending their kids to cup cake schools… tax payers do….it’ll end. There is no support.

  13. How can this California Congressional claim to be a citizen when she first of all rejected our country and it’s Constitutional Republic and in doing so violated the Oath of Office? We didn’t eject her and her kind they rejected our nation and our government system. Why are they still running around meddling with us, our country and our government system?

    1. Can’t have it both ways. If most are not reported where do these other statistics originate?

      Oh yes I see the answer. Huff and Puffington Post. It’s really sad you treat a serious problem with such levity and idiotic phrasing. All you are doing is desensitizing the public to what may be a real problem with wild unsupported claims degenerating the issue to the level of global warming.

      1. You obviously do not read much. These cases, when reported are often horrific. Ivy League schools often try to sweep allegations under the rug to save their reputations, and often six-figure donor alumni children get every benefit of the doubt. Are you aware of the rape epidemic in the military? I personally knew a female Afghan veteran, and the women always go to the bathroom at night with an escort. When they go to they do not they urinate in a bottle. Get a reality check!

    2. Of course that’s absolute nonsense had has been debunked again and again. Nothing remotely like that can be substantiated from validly collected survey data or from incident reports.

        1. The Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI collect statistics. The statistics do not bear out your contentions. Go away.

    3. The HuffPo numbers are comparable to rape stats in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which rape is used as a tactic of war. The claim is ludicrous, and unsupported by govt numbers. Look up Christina Hoff Sommers vids on YouTube. She has talked at length about the specious claims of Third Wave feminists WRT sexual assault on college campuses.

      1. It’s absurd, but it’s not absurd to people who cannot see the world around them or comprehend measures of that world. They construct gross caricatures, then believe the caricatures of their own construction. The caricatures are attractive to them due to their portfolio of inadequacies and resentments.

      2. Even if we believe that these numbers are inflated, the fact that the majority of cases are going unreported is perfectly consistent with rape cases in the general public. The Universities have good, self-interested reasons for covering these crimes up. Also, colleges are covering up rampant hazing abuse cases, many of them leading to deaths.

        1. Sexual assault now encompasses a man looking “with rape eyes” at a woman from across the room, so frankly I think the definition has been broadened so much as to be completely useless. The Universities have good, self-interested reasons for persecuting young men who are the unfortunate recipients of the blame for drunken sex after frat parties and the like. This whole “rape culture” claim arises from Obama’s “Dear Colleague” letter to any college receiving federal funding under Title IX, a law which has arguably existed well beyond its shelf date (this has been covered extensively on this blog already). Obama essentially gave the university admins power to be judge, jury and executioner over the accused. These claims need to be handled in a court of law. Twenty-eight Harvard law professors came out against that school’s new tougher policy in 2014 because the policy was biased against the accused.

          This UT case, in which the young man was cleared by the University, but still punished by the President of the school (amid clear conflicts of interest), is an example of how out of hand some Univ admins are. And there are more like this John Doe who are suing their schools for wrongful conviction.

          All this is not to say that rape isn’t terrible or that it doesn’t exist at colleges, (e.g. Stanford case). But IMO you aren’t going to get at the truth when the laws exist as they do now, and university Title IX compliance offices have reasons to maintain the culture of fear in order to justify their existence.

  14. Obviously whoever wrote this manual has never been in a hot NYC Subway car with a Homeless person who is stretched out asleep on a seat and hasn’t bathed in a month. Either that or their sense of smell is totally gone. Microaggression……absurd! Would you sit next to fresh manure to be PC?

  15. Who sits around and thinks this garbage up? I read the manual and I cannot think of anything that would not be a microaggression. Even non-verbal interactions such as eye contact, sitting too far away from a homeless person, etc. And who monitors this? Faculty, students, the janitor? Will faculty be able to complain if they are microaggressed by a student? Is it possible for a white male student to be microaggressed by a black student? I wonder what the cost of developing this manual was. Whatever it costs, that will most likely be added to the students’ tuition. Maybe if Evergreen College closes, those students can transfer here.

    1. Who sits around and thinks this garbage up?

      Student affairs apparatchiks who have absolutely no serious duties. The people in student affairs with authentic employment work in the registrar’s office, the housing office, off campus study, or medical services. I suppose you could add counseling services and the chaplain (were you generous). There are some others you have to hire to process paperwork driven by compliance requirements. But there are a certain number of sinecure holders. (Though sometimes the sinecure-holders are in the provost’s office or the personnel office).

      Selective deregulation of higher education, a restructuring of the financing of higher education, and a rebalancing of authority between the trustees and the faculty might scrape away some of the silliness. However, you’d still have a good deal of silliness, because that’s how they roll. Wage-earners employed in higher education may be perfectly normal. The salaried people they work for are anything but.

  16. Enough micro words. Let’s have some macro words, like macrostupidity.

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