Mandatory woke training at UNC Chapel Hill
A hat tip to my Twitter friend Benjamin Boyce for highlighting this story this morning. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently held a mandatory training session for all Greek organizations. Carolina Review, the campus conservative newspaper, leaked audio from the training and spoke to people who attended.
Ms. Parle started the presentation with an ‘indigenous land recognition,’ after which the hundreds of Greek attendees were advised that they should make a habit of repeating the political catechism in their daily lives and taught how to do so. After establishing her lecture was on stolen land, Ms. Parle asked students their feelings about ‘the system.’ Were they warm towards it? Apathetic? Or, the last option: ready to dismantle it?
The first topics covered by Ms. Parle were the role of identity and the social constructs which define them, a subject that introduced the presentation and remained a focal point throughout. She emphasized that identity is a primary factor in life experience, explaining that identity guides “the way you navigate the world.” Students were instructed to write their intersectional identities, drawing from those provided which included characteristics like sex, (not to be confused with gender, of which both expression and identity were listed), sexual orientation, body size, and race.
At this point, we can jump into some of the leaked audio. In this clip, Ms. Parle discusses how the world is designed for average body size, height, and weight. She explained that people who need help reaching the top shelf in the grocery store are victims of a “system of oppression.” “Every grocery store…was built for the average height person,” she said.
We’re not supposed to think about things like this. We’re supposed to have an emotional reaction and stop there. But let’s assume for a moment whether or not the fact that some people can’t reach the highest shelf in the grocery store is a “system of oppression” or something else. Apologies ahead of time for belaboring this a bit, but there is a reason for it.
The most uncomplicated shopping experience would be a flea market or a bazaar, where individual sellers have booths next to one another that offer goods all at eye level, often on a flat surface like a table. Flea markets take up a lot of space. There’s one about 2 miles from my house every weekend, which takes up the parking lot of a community college.
Grocery stores take a different approach. They have a certain amount of floor space owned or leased by one company on a price per square foot basis. Because the operating cost is based on the floor space, they attempt to maximize the number of items they can sell in that space. A large store might carry thousands of different things, while a small store (think 7-11) might offer only a few hundred.
If you set up flea market booths in a 7-11, there wouldn’t be many booths, and the use of space wouldn’t be very efficient. To maximize the use of floor space, grocers essentially build up precisely the same way and for the same reason that cities build-up, i.e., to maximize the value of available land. Shelves which present items vertically rather than horizontally are much more efficient because there’s less wasted space under the shelves.
A large grocery store is attempting to pack in thousands of items, including hundreds of types of alcohol, 50 types of beer, 75 types of cookies, and 5-6 brands of popular items like paper towels. Also, there are many niches, specialty items like anchovy paste or various Asian sauces for dishes not everyone cooks at home. When you’re trying to have a bit of something for everyone plus a lot of alternative brands for the best-selling items, you need a lot of shelf space.
But it’s a trade-off. If you put things 9 feet off the ground so that only the very tallest people can reach, you probably won’t sell those items very often. If you make all the shelves 5 feet tall, everyone can achieve everything, but you’d need a lot more floor space to make everything fit (or you could carry fewer items). Your best chance of staying in business and making a profit is to find the sweet spot. Shelves should be high enough to carry many unique items but low enough that most people can reach most items without asking for help. And, if you think about it, the stuff on those top shelves are often things you don’t buy every week.
I’m laboring through all of this to make a point. A grocery store is a carefully thought out design intended to offer the most choice to the most diverse set of people in a given amount of space. Sadly, all Ms. Parle can see is a system of oppression against short people.
I wish I could think of another word for it but what she’s saying is just dumb. I’m not saying she’s dumb, but her analysis is very dumb. It omits all of the excellent reasons why the system is the way it is. Her analysis is anti-diversity in a way. If grocery stores were limited to 6-foot shelves, they wouldn’t stop selling toilet paper or Oreos, which sell like crazy; they’d stop carrying 25 varieties of Asian sauces or specialty items most people don’t buy very often.
Here’s clip #2 (below). In this one, she shows the attendees four images and asks them to react. When they don’t react as she hoped, she rebukes them.
People who were forced to attend this training weren’t thrilled about it:
“There’s no way the university should be funding [the event] in my opinion,” one attendee told Carolina Review on the condition of anonymity. The same student was disturbed by the “clear political undertones” present in a mandatory University event.
Another student described the ordeal as “uncomfortable.” “It seemed that the speaker was projecting her identity politics onto us,” he continued. Examples he listed included “lecturing us on how the land we grew up on didn’t belong to us, how being right-handed is akin to being white-privileged, and how our identities define us.” A third attendee said that the “way [Ms. Parle] went about it felt very aggressive and accusatory… it almost defeated the purpose.”
Sentiments like these were shared by nearly every student contacted for comment by Carolina Review, yet every student requested anonymity.
The fact that no one would go on the record is sad but not surprising. Any student who points out, as I have above, is taking a risk with their future. Maybe nothing wrong would happen, or perhaps they’d be targeted by the campus social-justice mob and hounded off-campus. It would be great if more people would stand up and call this what it is (it’s dumb), but it’s a lot easier to shrug and move on, and that’s what most people do.
Cross-posted from Hot Air
Notes from the Editor
I listened to this speech; the person giving the lecture seems to have forgotten, if you create stores, gas stations, restaurants to cater to people who are heavy, thin, tall, average, or short, you soon will segregate this society more. As the minority is catered to, the majority are oppressed, so do we then have to redo everything to meet the majority’s demands? Where does this end?
I think this is the goal of the left, they one group is oppressed, so they create a need for justice, but once they achieve it, they then can say the other group they just took from to give to the oppressed group, they now have to do the same to make sure they aren’t oppressed either. This is meant to be applied to all groups within a society, be it male/female, race-related, thin or heavy; there are many victims and oppressed groups; if there aren’t, then make them up. This creates a perpetual cycle of victims; when you create freedom for one, you create a new group of victims.
Here is the problem, much of where we are is caused by ourselves; the other part concerns people not seeking equality, more advancing at the expense of others. A great example is Slavery Reparations; we are being told by a group of people who themselves, nor their parents or grandparents ever experienced slavery that a group of people who never held a slave, nor did their parents or grandparents, they have guilt for something that happened 150 years ago, long before any of these people were born.
Group “A” demands group “B” pay for something they never had anything to do with. Thus you would be creating a new set of victims. But there is more, they then bring in “White Guilt,” this is how they get away from the unjust ideology of blaming a group of people who had nothing to do with slavery and telling them that they should be responsible for paying reparations to a people who never were slaves.
But this is more insidious than this; group “A,” who had faced racism in the past, want to punish group “B” by putting them in the same position. In the 40s and 50s, come claimed that blacks were inferior because of their skin color, today this same group is now being told they are guilty due to their skin color. While, at this point, whites are just being told they are oppressors, own guilt due to their skin, how long is it until there are calls for more severe punishment, for segregation to separate this guilty group from the rest? Sadly, this is already happening.
Now, apply this to minority sexual groups, heavy people, or anything else that causes one group to stand out from others; you see where this victimization, then punishment never stops. If we want this to stop, we have to stop accepting guilt shared, then tell them you reject any claims that you possess any responsibility for what people you never knew did in the past.
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