Microaggressions Facebook page provides open discussion

CHR03272014A01 Colby Patterson
A screenshot of the University of Utah Micro/Aggressions Facebook page. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

A screenshot of the University of Utah Micro/Aggressions Facebook page. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

A new Facebook page called “University of Utah Micro/Aggressions” gives students an outlet to voice their experiences with microaggressions on campus.

All of the posts on the Facebook page are anonymous to protect students’ identities. The page is not run by the administration and is separate from the U’s official account.

ASUU president Sam Ortiz said he supports the page. He said he is happy to see students taking steps to make the campus more inclusive.

“It’s a very academic term, so it’s not something that you hear often,” Ortiz said. “It’s those small experiences of discrimination that take place. They can be very simple and very subtle.”

Belinda Saltiban, director of diversity and inclusion at the U, handles incidents of bias on the campus. Saltiban said if students experience microaggressions or bias of any kind they can contact her or email the experience anonymously to respectU@utah.edu. She said if students feel discriminated against they should also contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Ortiz said the biggest distinction between microaggressions and discrimination is when committing a microaggression students may not realize they have done something wrong or offended someone.

“I think this is a huge problem on campus,” Ortiz said. “I really wish we could see more targeted efforts, more widespread support and more resources allocated to things like this.”

Ortiz has worked on a diversity training program for students and faculty on campus throughout his tenure as president. He said the groundwork has been done for this program, but it is still a work in process that he would like to see more resources allocated towards.

“Diversity training is something that the university is doing,” Ortiz said. “I’ve had a hard time pushing it forward [this year].”

Saltiban hopes students who have experienced, witnessed or heard about an incident involving microaggressions will reach out to her.

“We have leaders who are deeply committed to a vital learning, living and working community that cultivates and nurtures inclusion,” Saltiban said. “I believe that the imperatives of diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental to enriching the educational experiences of all students.”

Ortiz said it is easy for students to shrug off a single microaggression, but as they happen more often it begins to build.

“When you have things like that happen to you consistently it can be depressing,” Ortiz said. “I think it takes a lot of humility and willingness to realize that you may have done something wrong.”

The new microaggressions Facebook page is meant to give students a voice and was created on March 21. Since its creation it has gained 240 likes as of March 26. The creator of the page declined to comment on the record.

n.turner@chronicle.utah.edu