Calling America ‘Land of Opportunity’ offensive, University of California warns professors


Phrases such as “America is the land of opportunity” and “America is a melting pot” are “micro-aggressions” that could leave some students feeling discriminated against, according to a new faculty training guide put out by the University of California that one former professor in the system says shows “how crazy it’s become.”

The guide, which says those phrases and others can be interpreted by minorities as “denying the significance of a person of color’s racial/ethnic experience and history,” or that they “assimilate to the dominant culture,” is used across the vast, 200,000-student ;University of California system. Specifically, it is for training professors in “faculty leadership seminars” that aim to “enhance department and campus climate toward inclusive excellence.”

“I don’t think University of California realizes how crazy it’s become.”

– Tim Groseclose, an economics professor at George Mason University

The guide, first exposed by the student-run The College Fix, uses the same argument to condemn a number of seemingly innocuous statements, such as:

  • “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
  • “Affirmative action is racist.”
  • “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”
  • “When I look at you, I don’t see color.”
  • “I don’t believe in race.”
  • “Gender plays no part in who we hire.”

Many find the training guide absurd.

“I don’t think University of California realizes how crazy it’s become,” Tim Groseclose, an economics professor at George Mason University, told Groseclose was a professor at UCLA until last year, when he resigned after he brought to light evidence that the university illegally admitted students on the basis of race. “According to that document, Martin Luther King, Jr. would be guilty of micro-aggressions.”

The university stood by the use of the guides.

Former UCLA Professor Tim Groseclose says the University of California has gone off the deep end with political correctness.

“Given the diverse backgrounds of our students, faculty and staff, UC offered these seminars to make people aware of how their words or actions may be interpreted when used in certain contexts. Deans and department heads were invited, but not required, to attend the seminars,” University of California Office of the President spokeswoman Shelly Meron told

She added that the university had not banned the words when it labeled them as examples of micro-aggressions and insisted that the university system is “committed to upholding, encouraging and preserving ;academic freedom and the free flow of ideas.”

Meron said that they have one more seminar scheduled that makes use of the training guides.

Some academics say the guides are correct.

“These statements may seem innocent, but… they underhandedly and subtly undermine the very real experiences with racism, sexism and other forms of oppression,” OiYan Poon, assistant professor of higher education at Loyola University in Chicago, told

“For example, the statement that ‘affirmative action is racist’ completely ignores the history and purpose of affirmative action, which is to address inequalities resulting from the many ways our government and society have prevented people of color from accessing economic, educational and political opportunities and rights.”

Poon also said that micro-aggressions, a relatively new term for often unintentional slights and snubs that may be perceived as offensive toward women and minorities, do a lot of damage.

“According to psychological and public health research, micro-aggressions can lead to negative ;health consequences including heart disease, diabetes, ;depression ;and substance abuse,” she said.

But Groseclose believes political correctness has jumped the shark when it can be considered a harmful “micro-aggression” to say something opposed to racism. He said the climate at universities is now so bad that even some liberal professors operate in fear.

“Just before I left UCLA, a liberal colleague and I talked about how disgusting the new micro-aggression policy is. ; I asked him if he ever worried about being dragged before some investigatory board via some trumped up charges. He responded, ‘That’s why, around here, I just try to minimize my contact with other humans.’”

Groseclose said he hopes that donors and taxpayers will wise up.

“I wonder if taxpayers realize they’re paying for this,” he said. ;”I wish Congress would do something like suspend federal money to the University of California for a couple years – enough time for the university to regain its sanity.”

The author, Maxim Lott, can be reached at or at