How university life has become a PC dog’s breakfast
UNIVERSITIES, once bastions of free speech and spirited inquiry, now treat students like preschool toddlers, teaching them to avoid embarrassing words in sex education, pat dogs to understand racism and keep quiet in classes if they are shy.
Students learning about the importance of clear communication in compulsory courses on consenting sex have been advised to use words such as "joystick" and "vajayjay" in place of anatomically correct terms such as penis and vagina.
Other classes have been told that diversity is not just about "hating men and white people" while one lecturer brought a white dog in her handbag to talk about "white privilege".
In another, students on culture and gender in movies were told they didn't need to speak up in tutorials if they feel shy - even though discussion counts for 10 per cent of their grades.
At the other end of the scale, a uni lecturer flippantly advised students how to disguise their internet search history if they were planning to commit suicide and attacked the late cartoonist Bill Leak of The Australian.
After recent revelations about changes to sexual consent policies and other rules and traditions triggered debate, The Daily Telegraph visited top government-funded universities in Sydney for a first-hand look at campus life and found a culture of cotton wool and political correctness.
At the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney, along with several others, students must get a perfect score on a mandatory online test on understanding consent to sex that advises them to use words like "joystick", "hot dog" and "vajayjay" instead of real words for genitalia.
The Consent Matters course features slides of pick-up scenarios and voiceovers telling students the use of "normal" language makes it easier to discuss sex and consent.
"I have renamed them things, it is a lot easier to talk about them when they have normal, less intimidating names," the voice-over says.
She teaches a course identifying diversity as "one of the most important issues in contemporary society" and examines race, ethnicity, gender, class sexuality and "dis/ability".
"It is not just about let's hate all men and white people. That can be fun for like five seconds and then it gets boring.
"Also my dog is white. It is about white dog privilege.
"The idea of divide and conquer which brought us here - colonisation, capitalism, patriarchy … our identity and our value is defined by our commodification as being valuable in a capitalist society that has to become something else, that has to become definable."
When the class took a break, students patted the dog, which fell asleep under a large desk at the front of the room.
The undergraduate course is compulsory for students who want to minor in "diversity".
In another Sydney Uni class, called Screen Cultures and Gender: Film to Apps, Professor Catherine Driscoll told students they don't have to utter a word during weekly tutorial discussions if they do not feel "confident" or are "shy".
Instead, they can submit their thoughts to the course's online discussion board after class.
"You might just not be someone who feels very confident, especially in the beginning of the course with volunteering your ideas, though afterwards you might think they were as good as everyone else's," she said.
But the university promises prospective employers that all its graduate outcomes: "Confidently and coherently communicate, orally and in writing, to a professional standard in major fields of study."
A University of Sydney spokesman said the uni was committed to academic freedom and free speech.
"As a university, we encourage freedom of expression and robust debate of a wide range of issues, conducted with mutual respect."
Rival Australian Catholic University lecturer and education commentator Kevin Donnelly said there was now no room for alternate opinions.
"I argue universities are no longer places of open rigorous debate where people can engage in a dialogue, a conversation where they're confident to put a point of view and argue in terms of the evidence," he said.
"It is part of the PC movement, where we have safe spaces, victimhood, and students are no longer able to have robust debate because everyone is part of some victim group."