College Implements Sensitivity Training Over 35-Year-Old Incident

Jun 28, 2013 by

Jennifer Kabbany –

Babson College apologized this week for anti-Semitic acts surrounding a soccer game with a rival campus that took place in 1978 – 35-years ago – and announced it will launch anti-bias training for its students and faculty starting this fall because of the infamous incident of long ago.

When asked if there were any recent acts of bias or racism on campus that would spur the need for sensitivity training, a spokesman for Babson College told The College Fix in an email that the new sensitivity training is tied to the episode nearly four decades ago and “in (a) desire to support our diverse campus community.”

With that, students and faculty will go through the training, called “A Campus of Difference” and led by the Anti-Defamation League, Babson spokesman Michael Chmura told The Fix, declining to say how much the Massachusetts-based private university will pay for the training program.

Anti-Semitic acts surrounding the 1978 soccer game between Babson College and Brandeis University, a nearby campus with a high Jewish-American enrollment at the time, included Babson players wearing swastikas, yelling racial slurs, and hanging a banner that said “Happy Holocaust,” the Boston Globe reported, adding:

The incidents were controversial at the time, and Babson College administrators and students took several steps to respond: the athletic director and soccer players issued apologies, the Babson president wrote a letter to the college community, and the soccer team was required to watch a movie about the Holocaust and to attend a series of other educational sessions.

But Babson President Len Schlesinger, who found out about the incident earlier this year, says those actions were not good enough.

“While I am confident that the institutional response to these hateful incidents would be vastly different today, I have been greatly disturbed to learn about these anti-Semitic activities and the handling of them by the college,” Schlesinger said in a campus news release. “Although it is some 35 years later, as president of this institution, I believe I have a fundamental responsibility to respond to what I have learned, including extending my most sincere public apology to members of the Babson and Brandeis communities for the unconscionable behaviors they experienced.”

When asked by The Fix if the new diversity training is mandatory, Chmura replied it’s part of orientation.

Regarding the training, ADL states on its website that “members of campus communities face many challenges as they struggle to create environments where diversity is truly valued and respected. Incidents of hate, bias, and bullying; concerning attitudes of incivility and exclusion; intergroup tensions and conflicts; and hate speech are all issues campus leaders face every day.”

“In order for the campus to become a cohesive community, addressing these issues must be part of a campus strategic plan. Campuses today must engage in multifaceted approaches that involve learning in and out of the classroom. This effort requires unprecedented cooperation from all members of the faculty, staff, and administration as well as careful understanding and sensitivity to the needs of all students.”

The league states that, to date, more than 56,000 faculty, staff, administrators and students on 900 college and university campuses nationwide have participated in their program.

via College Implements Sensitivity Training Over 35-Year-Old Incident.

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