The University of Oregon’s Bias Response Team, also known as the “thought police,” has now been renamed the Bias Education and Response Team.
The school’s Daily Emerald affectionately refers to the thoughtcrime-stopping organization by its acronym, BERT:
BERT is a team of staff that receives and reviews reports of bias or racism on campus by “offering support, referral and opportunities for dialogue,” according to its mission statement. Administrators designed BERT as a team of educators, but faculty leaders are worried BERT is interfering with free speech. After 17 years of operation, faculty members are trying to change the way BERT operates.
The faculty members have legitimate fears. BERT has dealt with bias claims ranging from alleged incidences of racism and sexual harassment to utterly ridiculous snowflake stories.
One case that has received attention is a student’s claim that the campus newspaper doesn’t give enough attention to trans students and people of color. The action taken by BERT was to hold “an educational conversation with the newspaper reporter and editor.”
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) May 15, 2016
In another case, a student reported that a sign asking students to clean up after themselves was “sexist.”
BERT claims it doesn’t force people to take action after incidents, but faculty members fear the organization will get them removed if they speak out against it.
Here’s a column Journalism Professor Kyu Ho Youm wrote in response to the school’s Bias Response Team in June, before its name change.
If Youm, who grew up in South Korea protesting government oppression of free speech, has a problem with this organization, it might not be as sincere as it claims.
It’s beginning to look a lot like 1984 at UO.