Somerville College, Oxford, ordered students to complete “unconscious bias” course and demanded students get 100% grade.
All students at former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s old Oxford college were ordered to partake in an “unconscious bias” course to expose “racism, homophobia, transphobia and disability discrimination”.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, a Labour peer who served in Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet, said there was “irrefutable evidence” that injustices in society were being fanned by “individual unconscious biases that many or all of us have”. She insisted that students “achieve a mark of 100 percent” in a final test.
The course used by Somerville College consists of forcing students to admit that they are “susceptible to bias” and need to “accept responsibility for monitoring our own behaviours”. Students must admit to suffering from “mini-me syndrome”, because they “automatically favour” people like themselves.
Students are also required to concede that a black lecturer would be more likely to be disliked by students than their white colleagues.
It comes as many universities and student unions are being accused of trying to enforce left-wing “woke” values across supposedly impartial institutions.
The college’s demands prompted a student to contact the FSU (Free Speech Union), who advised Baroness Royall that her orders could be a breach of both the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.
FSU General Secretary Toby Young explained that the student was “understandably anxious that if they refuse to take this training course, or if they score less than 100 per cent in the assessment at the end of the course, they may face disciplinary action”.
He added that the evidence suggests such courses do not lead to “a reduction in real-world discriminatory behaviour and can lead to an increase in such behaviour”.
Mrs Thatcher’s long-time Press Secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, commented: “She would have thought the country had gone mad. She believed in freedom – these people don’t, they believe in dictatorship. To hell with them!”
Last night, Somerville College backed down in the face of the FSU challenge. Baroness Royall wrote in response to the FSU: “On reflection, it has been agreed that completing the test with less than 100 percent will be seen as the opportunity for a chat about the issues involved, nothing more.”
Mr Young said: “I am pleased Baroness Royall has backed down on her insistence that students have to score 100 percent on the test, but she still says students who score less than 100 percent will have to come in for a chat, which sounds ominous.”