The 180

OPINION: Political correctness makes university education better

Critics says universities are becoming way too politically correct, as they attempt to protect students with practices like trigger warnings. But Memorial University's Zaren Healey White says efforts to create understanding on campuses actually improve education in Canada.
Hundreds listen to speakers at a protest at Dalhousie University in January, 2015. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

University campuses are becoming overly-protected, hyper-sensitive bastions of political correctness that inhibit real education. At least, that's how some people seem to feel, as stories of higher-education upsets spread around the western world.

In the United States, during a recent interview with ESPN radio, comedian Jerry Seinfeld said he's been told not to play colleges, because students are too PC, too willing to call things racist or sexist. And then there was Nobel Prize winning scientist Tim Hunt, who raised ire with a joke that laboratories should be segregated between the genders, because women cry too much. He made the joke during a speech at a conference, and after days of public controversy, he resigned his university position. It wasn't too long after his sacking that the mayor of London himself, Boris Johnson, wrote a newspaper editorial denouncing "political correctness" and demanding Hunt be reinstated.

There's concern about creeping campus sensitivity here in Canada as well. Columnist Rex Murphy wrote in the National Post that "some universities have become parodies of themselves, shops of petty moral vanity."

In his column for the CBC website, Neil MacDonald wrote recently that "the scourge of the '90s, PC seems to be gaining a new foothold on college campuses."

With so much already said and written about about the evils of political correctness on campus, we went looking for the view 180 degrees opposite. So this week, we'll speak with Gender Studies Master's student, and broadcast journalist, Zaren Healey White. She says what critics call "political correctness" is actually improving education in Canada.