Politics & Policy

Campus Group Apologizes to Students ‘Triggered’ by Anti-Microaggressions Exhibit

“This is what it feels like to hear microaggressions constantly used against you."

The Asian-American Students Association at Brandeis University put up an exhibit to raise awareness about “microaggressions” on campus — only to end up apologizing after some students complained that they had been had “triggered” by it.

The display, which had appeared on the steps of the school’s Rabb Graduate Center, featured white pieces of paper with examples of so-called “microaggressions” that Asian people must endure, as reported by Legal Insurrection.

The purpose of the exhibit, according to a BUAASA Facebook post, was to “bring attention to microaggressions that are frequently heard in and out of the Brandeis community” and demonstrate that when “seemingly innocuous comments” “build upon each other . . . the burden can be overwhelming and frustrating.”

“This is what it feels like to hear microaggressions constantly used against you,” it continues. “These papers are invasive of a space that you often inhabit and must pass through; similar to how these remarks invade our communities and the space we share as a whole: Brandeis. The experience is often alarming, alienating, and ultimately harmful. To us, it is unavoidable.”

RELATED: Harvard Study Suggests Microaggressions Might Make People Die Sooner

#related#Now for what it’s worth, I think that part of the problem here might have been that these BUAASA members didn’t seem to entirely understand what the term “microaggressions” actually means. Some of the comments featured in the exhibit — such as “Go back to where you came from” and “Asians have no manners. They’re all so rude” — are not “seemingly innocuous” microaggressions; they’re insults. Nobody is out there calling an entire race of people “rude” and not understanding why that might be hurtful to a member of that race.

That said, Several of the other “microaggressions” featured in the exhibit were more typical of the concept, such as “Wow you’re so Americanized! You have so many white friends!” and “I’m colorblind! I don’t see race.”

These BUAASA members didn’t seem to entirely understand what the term “microaggressions” actually means.

In any case, the plan backfired when some students apparently complained that BUAASA’s attempt at making campus a more safe space had made them feel unsafe.

“We would like to acknowledge and apologize to the Asian students on campus who were triggered or hurt by the content of the microaggressions in our installation,” BUAASA’s president wrote in an e-mail to the entire student body today, according to Legal Insurrection.

“We understand and empathize with the effect that this installation could have without the context of the explanation provided on our Tumblr,” the group wrote.

The e-mail also announced that the microaggressions display had been taken down and replaced with an explanation that would remain there at least through the end of final exams.

It’s not clear what the specific complaints of the “triggered” students were, as BUAASA did not respond to a request for comment.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review

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