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University of Kent in Canterbury and Medway defends diversity course all students are being asked to take

University bosses have defended the introduction of a diversity course which includes a quiz on white privilege.

The four-hour online module must be taken by every student at the University of Kent in Canterbury, and its Medway campus.

The University of Kent (51722584)
The University of Kent (51722584)

The Expect Respect course, say bosses, aims to "dig deep into issues of racism, bias, sexual harassment and consent" and even suggests that wearing second-hand clothes and using swear words can be examples of white privilege.

But a leading academic at the institution has branded it "thought policing".

A university spokesman said that the module was "supporting everyone to ensure all members of our community are treated with dignity and respect."

One example of white privilege featured in the quiz reads: "I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race."

Lecturers have been advised in an internal email that all students are expected to complete the course.

UKC sociologist Prof Frank Furedi
UKC sociologist Prof Frank Furedi

But The Times is reporting that some staff are resisting it.

Sociologist and author Prof Frank Furedi, who wrote 100 Years of Identity Crisis, has branded it "thought policing".

He added: "There’s a danger of promoting conformism on campuses under the guise of education that you indoctrinate people into woke dogma."

"Students are being instructed through this module that there is a correct way of thinking..."

And Professor of family and parenting research at the university, Ellie Lee, told The Times: "Encouraging people in the academy to narrow their field of reading and narrow students’ reading seems to me to be simply philistine and irresponsible.

"Students are being instructed through this module that there is a correct way of thinking.

"I'm going to tell students not to do it," adding that many of her colleagues felt the same way.

University spokesman Gary Hughes said: "We introduced the Expect Respect module in 2020 in response to requests from our students that we promote greater awareness of the things we can all do to make everyone feel safe and supported on our campuses. It is also part of our broader commitment to being inclusive and welcoming to all who study and work with us.

"The module was developed with our students and introduces a range of issues from racism and bias to sexual harassment and consent, supporting everyone to ensure all members of our community are treated with kindness and respect.

"It also makes students aware of how to report any incidents to the university and of the wide range of support services available to them when issues arise. While we would like as many students as possible to take the module, nobody would face disciplinary action for not doing so."

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