Under pressure from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), Michigan State has dropped a program that forced students to confess their “power-and-control” sins or leave the university. Student Accountability in Community (SAC) was designed to change the behavior of students with “accountability issues.” “Privilege” is mentioned too, which probably means whites, males and heterosexuals shouldn’t, um, do something. Well, it’s not clear. FIRE writes:
Students employing so-called power-and-control tactics, which MSU confusingly defined as â€œany action of obscuring, concealing, or changing peopleâ€™s perceptions that result in your advantage and/or anotherâ€™s disadvantage,â€ received SAC referrals.
As I read this, persuading a roommate to lend you $10 would come under the ban.
Administrators could refer students to the SAC program for â€œaggressiveâ€ behavior â€” even if their behavior was as isolated and insignificant as a girl slamming a door during an argument with her boyfriend. Constitutionally protected speech such as â€œinsulting instructorsâ€ or â€œmaking sexist, homophobic, or racist remarks at a meetingâ€ could also qualify students for the SAC program. Adding insult to injury, students were required to pay to attend the SAC sessions.
In the SAC sessions, administrators required students to fill out a series of written questionnaires about their behavior. Students were compelled to admit, using administrator-approved language, their â€œfull responsibilityâ€ for their alleged misdeeds.
Here’s a more detailed description of the SAC process.
An example of racial violence given in the SAC materials is toilet papering someone elseâ€™s door, apparently if theyâ€™re of a different race. No, Iâ€™m not joking.
A heavy emphasis is put on refusing to allow the student to â€œobfuscateâ€ the issue. Obfuscation is defined as a student who â€œlies or denies what they did.â€ In other words, there will be no pleading innocent. Such examples of obfuscation are claiming the behavior or action was â€œjust a jokeâ€ or otherwise denying that one intentionally committed the action out of spite or out of oneâ€™s own sense of superiority.
If you’ve ever read about Maoist re-education, it sounds familiar. Students who didn’t comply fully weren’t sent to work in the fields for 10 years, but they were unable to register for the next semester at MSU. Effectively, they were expelled.
In a New York Sun column, John Leo lists the many ways censors limit free expression on campus.