Culture

Clemson Diversity Training: Expecting People to Arrive on Time Is Culturally Insensitive

(Photo: Dmitriy Shironosov/Dreamstime)
In the United States, it’s just a fact that you’re supposed to arrive on time to your appointments.

According to materials from a diversity-training course at Clemson University, it’s culturally insensitive to expect people to show up on time because “time may be considered fluid” in some cultures.

Clemson’s “Diversity Benefits for Higher Education” initiative — which cost the school more than $25,000, according to Campus Reform — presents its participants with slides featuring hypothetical scenarios, and asks them to select the correct, culturally sensitive action from a list of options.

“Alejandro scheduled a 9:00 a.m. meeting with two groups of visiting professors and students from other countries,” one of the scenarios states. “When he arrived, he found that the first group had been waiting for fifteen minutes.”

“The second group arrived at 9:10 and wanted to socialize first,” it continues. “What should Alejandro do?”

The slide then lists three options:

1.  “Politely ask the second group to apologize.”

2.  “Explain, ‘In our country, 9:00 a.m. means 9:00 a.m.’”

3.  “As the meeting organizer, he should recognize cultural differences that may impact the meeting and adjust accordingly.”

The correct answer, according to the slide, is option three.

“Time may be considered precise or fluid depending on the culture,” the slide explains. “For Alejandro to bring three cultures together he must start from a place of respect, understanding that his cultural perspective regarding time is is neither more nor less valid than any other.”

Sorry, but — nope.

In the United States, it’s just a fact that you’re supposed to arrive to your appointments on time. If you’re late, then you’re supposed to apologize, or else people are going to think that you’re an inconsiderate jerk. Like it or not, that’s objectively true — and pretending that it isn’t true isn’t going to change that.

The truth is that picking the “sensitive” option in this hypothetical scenario really doesn’t do anyone any good at all — including the people who were late. Allowing the people in the second group to not only be late, but also to continue to chat and socialize among themselves when they had already kept the other people waiting might seem like a nice, forgiving thing to do, but it’s really only going to make their lives harder in the long run. Now, I’m not saying you should say something unnecessarily rude (like option two, for example) but allowing them to think there was nothing wrong with what they did will make them think that it’s okay to do it again in the future — and it really isn’t. If one of them goes on to, say, arrive ten minutes late for a job interview and decides to not even apologize, then that person probably isn’t going to get the job. There could be real, objective effects to continuing this kind of behavior that go far, far beyond feeling a little embarrassed for two seconds.

Professors are very busy people, and telling them that they don’t have the right to demand punctuality is absurd. It’s a sign of respect; it shows that you take the other person’s time seriously — and everyone has the right to demand that.

– Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.

READ MORE:

Most Popular

Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More
Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

On Painting Air Force One

And so it has come to this. Two oil tankers were just attacked in the Gulf of Oman, presumably by Iran. The United States and China are facing off in a confrontation that is about far more than trade. The southern border remains anarchic and uncontrolled. And Congress is asking: “Can I get the icon in ... Read More