West Texas A&M is requiring students to participate in a diversity, equity, and inclusion-based training program.

A student at WTAMU sent Texas Scorecard screenshots of the mandatory race and gender-based training program.

The program is a part of Get Inclusive’s Voices for Change student training courses. These courses include federally mandated training topics such as alcohol, drugs, hazing, sexual harassment, etc. 

However, they also include topics that are not federally mandated, like “Student DE&I” and “Identities and Inclusion.”

“It started out pretty neutral,” the student told Texas Scorecard. “Over the course of that section, however, it started becoming clear that there was a strong bias toward LGBT concepts and racism, which I thought were super unnecessary.”

The WTAMU student whistleblower sent screenshots of the video transcripts and questions the students had to answer.

The training program claimed that “social identities is a term that refers to specific identities people have that give them advantage or disadvantage in society.”

“Social identities include things like race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, sex, ability, socioeconomic status, and size,” the training claimed. “Society treats us differently depending on these identities, whether they be real or perceived.”

The training also discussed the number of genders people can “identify” as, “For example, in the U.S. we are used to there being two genders. However, in other cultures, there are over 20 genders. The idea that there are only two genders is reinforced by bathroom labeling, census categories, baby gender reveal parties, and much more.”

The assignment informed students that these social constructs come from “age-old systems that create power dynamics based on someone’s membership in a social identity group.” 

The training course also discussed racial stereotyping and included several studies regarding stereotyping black and Latino men. These studies were about racism they claim is seen consistently in the medical world, racism in job searching, and stereotyped fear based on skin tones.

“We can stop ourselves from mislabeling people by being aware of when and why we create labels and challenging ourselves to avoid making assumptions,” the training video instructed students.

Videos students were required to watch claimed that everyone has multiple social identities, and they can be based on “your race, your gender, or your sexual orientation.”

Some social identities are more fixed than others. We tend to think of things like race, gender, class, and disability as pretty permanent, but our identities change all the time. Some people’s identities are strongly tied to where they were born and raised. What happens when you relocate? Or how much of your current identity is tied to your status as a student? Considering the fact that many social identities are socially constructed, how many identities do you think are actually fixed for all time?

A story was presented to students, where the main character is a lesbian woman who faces lesbian stereotypes, including people asking her if she finds another woman “hot,” her mother discussing her sexuality with a random lesbian at the store, and men calling her a “waste” because of her sexuality.

Fixating on sexual orientation was described as a common issue that is “irritating and disheartening.” Students were encouraged to be careful not to use “microaggressions” and to apologize in private if they happened to say something that could be perceived as a microaggression.

“In order to become more aware of your own biases, you must acknowledge them,” the training explained, then required students to take part in an “honest self-reflection.”

Discomfort is the first step to becoming an ally in creating a more inclusive campus community. If it was comfortable, there wouldn’t be a need for courses such as this. Pick one of the scenarios below that you do not self-identify with and write down the first thoughts that come to your mind when you think of this scenario. Two men walking down the street holding hands. A Muslim woman wearing a hijab. A Mexican man working in a restaurant. A white man wearing a suit walking into a high-rise office building. A teenager using sign language to communicate with their mom.

Students were then asked several more questions: 

  • Write a response about a time they felt people perceived or treated them in a negative way due to any aspect of their identity.
  • How would you describe your own identity? List the 5 aspects of your identity that you feel are most important in defining who you are.
  • Based on the 5 aspects of your identity listed above, reflect on the following questions. On a daily basis, how aware are you of each of these aspects of your identity? What typically triggers that awareness?
  • Now consider how your life might change if each of these aspects of your identity changed. How might people perceive you differently? How might they treat you differently?
  • How does your response to the last question connect to the concept of privilege we learned about in this section of the course?

“We are likely all guilty of stereotyping, having biases, or committing microaggressions,” the training video concluded. “Going forward, try to catch yourself if you do any of these things and challenge yourself to think differently. We all play a role in creating a safe and inclusive environment for our friends, peers, and classmates.”

“It was super unnecessary and I didn’t see the point of making this long, drawn-out course just so that they can plant their bias into this course (which they made MANDATORY for every student to take),” the student said.

As of publication, WTAMU did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s request for comment on the course.

Soli Rice

A journalist for Texas Scorecard, Soli is a new Texan with a passion for politics. She's excited to hone her writing skills and help spread truth to Texans.