A Canadian university has placed a ban on the use of “colored” ink pens out of concerns that they’re offensive and demeaning to students.
Officials at McGill University in Quebec said students, faculty and staff could face disciplinary action if they use “culturally insensitive” pens with colored ink like black or red. Instead, everyone will be required to use color-neutral pens with gray ink.
McGill is taking a strong stand against “microaggression” -- inadvertent aggression against minority groups -- after officials made a student apologize for emailing a joke clip of President Obama kicking a door because one student complained it portrayed black men as violent.
Portia Nathan, vice president of university affairs, said the new rule was proposed after one student complained that a “culturally insensitive professor” made her feel oppressed.
“The incident happened when a math professor used red ink to grade exams, causing a First Nations student who got an F to burst into tears because she thought the professor was justifying the genocide of her peoples by equating the color red to something bad,” Nathan said. “Yesterday, I overheard a Caucasian professor ask someone to hand him a black pen, as if the pen were a slave on his plantation. It’s that kind of microaggression that is tearing this university apart.”
Sherman Schrader III, dean of students, said the university is considering more radical proposals to promote equality and tolerance on campus, such as getting rid of the English department because “every racist speaks English,” and changing the name of its athletic teams, the McGill Redmen, to a race- and gender-neutral term, the EqualityPersons.
Nathan said it was the university’s duty to promote a sensitive place for students.
“As an attractive, thin female with luscious lips, radiant hair and porcelain skin, I’m too beautiful and privileged to experience discrimination as a person of color would,” Nathan said.
“We need to be more sensitive to the needs of everyone. The non-white, non-male people at our school need extra-special treatment to make up for centuries of white male oppression and privilege.”
The “culturally insensitive” pens proposal received a mixed response from students.
Van Wilder, a 12-year student, said he was deeply troubled by the racism, xenophobia, sexism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia and oppression occurring every second of every day at the university.
“How can I worry about trivial things like the lack of jobs or the rising cost of tuition when I know there may be one person on campus who doesn’t feel comfortable?” he said. “I probably commit hate crimes and don’t even know it. I beg forgiveness from every person of color.”
Kent Dorfman, a freshman history student, said he was reconsidering his enrollment.
“I used to think universities were open places for people to gain knowledge and engage in rigorous debate, research and lifelong learning,” he said. “Not for social engineering by politically correct reactionaries because one person might be offended.
“F**k this, I’m going to community college.”