St Andrews reverts to 16th Century Calvinism

Oct 4, 2021 by

by Kristina Murkett, UnHerd:

You would be forgiven for thinking that universities are secular institutions. But it turns out that the University of St Andrews is reverting to something akin to 16th Century Calvinism: except that this time it is preaching the doctrine of ‘personal guilt’ rather than ‘original sin.’

The university has introduced new induction modules for students (or should I say converts?) for students on sustainability, diversity and consent, and will not allow students to matriculate if they do not pass. How do students pass? By agreeing with certain statements, such as “acknowledging your personal guilt is a useful start point in overcoming unconscious bias.”

Surely St Andrews — and indeed, all universities — should be focusing on providing quality teaching and learning for their students, rather than forcing undergraduates through a tick-box exercise that adds nothing to the pursuit of academic debate and inquiry? After all, does an 18-year-old who wants to undertake a BSc in Molecular Biology really need to ‘prove’ their purity and acquiescence in order to be allowed to study at a particular institution?

It’s easy to see the test as a form of indoctrination: few students will dare to sacrifice themselves as free speech martyrs, or risk alienating themselves from their peers by admitting that they are non-believers. But then they won’t have to, because the reality is the test achieves nothing. Rather than genuinely exploring and analysing the notion of privilege, undergraduates will simply learn what statements they need to agree with in order to pass, and therefore any ‘atonement’ will be purely performative.

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