By: Justin Begley
Each year, Canisius College holds a mandatory club summit where student organizations on campus learn how to access their funds for the year. This year, however, I was shocked to receive an email that the summit would last for 5 hours, and wondered why. I continued to read the email and then I saw it: mandatory diversity training.
I attended the conference with two other Young Americans for Freedom executive board members. When we walked in and sat at a table, there was a game that resembled Monopoly spread out, with each seat having a different character. We were then informed that the school had flown in a woman named Natalie Gillard from Baltimore to host this game called “Factuality,” a creation of hers that addresses prejudices with regards to race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and religion.
As it turned out, each of the characters had a certain intersectional identity. Each person at the table was thus the character that was put at the seat that they sat in. I was assigned the Asian-American man, Brian. My friend, who is the Vice Chairwoman of our chapter, was a “transgender female and LATINX.” I learned that the ‘X’ in LATINX makes the term more “gender inclusive.”
Because I was the Asian-American man, I started with the most money, per the rules of the game. My friend, being the most intersectional of the characters, began with the least. We had to play the game as if it was regular Monopoly, minus two caveats. First, black characters could not purchase property on half of the board in order to simulate redlining so that we all could understand what black people face when they go to purchase a house. I found this interesting since redlining was banned in 1968- guess the host didn’t get the memo.
The second caveat was that every 3-5 minutes Natalie would blow a whistle and say some “fact” that included everything from the gender and racial pay gap and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system to racial and sexual-orientation discrimination in employment and education and discrimination in health care.
There was just one problem. Each piece of evidence she provided to support her claim was either an already disproved statistic or was anecdotal. But the leftist student base ate it up regardless.
At the end of the game, I technically won because I ended with the most money. But being the compassionate conservative that I am, I gave charity to the less financially fortunate player, my friend and the vice chair of our YAF chapter. I ended up giving her so much money that she beat me and even won the game (yes, I rigged it a bit to make a point).
But then the most shocking thing occurred. Natalie asked around the room who had increased their wealth and whose wealth decreased. When my friend, who again had the poorest character as defined by the rules of the game, raised her hand and said that she had the most money at the table, Natalie shouted out from the stage that “you should not celebrate your newfound wealth but instead use it to fight for those who are still being oppressed by prejudicial injustices in this country.”
This is the common problem on college campuses today. Every student is told that we live in a terrible, awful, no good, very bad place that was founded in racism, sexism, and bigotry. Young people are brainwashed into believing that minority groups are victims of systemic institutional discrimination. We all know that is not true today. But, if you tell people over and over that they are victims, some will eventually believe it.
This training did more harm than good. It was divisive, which proved to me that our school’s leaders do not want unity on campuses. They sow seeds of division, while at the same time, seek to appease the Left with unceasing virtue signaling.
A note to college administrators: Stop bringing in people who want to divide our campus on the basis of identity politics. Bring in speakers who are willing to cordially convey their thoughts and ideas. And yes, those people can be liberal or conservative. But don’t mandate that your students waste their time at these trainings only to end up more divided and upset than they were before. You aren’t helping. You’re making matters worse. Be tolerant of all perspectives, and encourage student engagement in the exploration and free exchange of new ideas. And please stop virtue signaling.
Justin Begley is Chairman of the Canisius College Young Americans for Freedom chapter.