To the mounting list of ways to possibly offend other students on college campuses these days, you can now add talking about your homework.
“Sure, you had no ill-intent, and absolutely nothing racist in mind at all,” Stanford Prof, Ruth Starkman writes in the Huffington Post. But by merely uttering the words out loud, you risk a microaggression because you don’t know who in class may have struggled with the assignment, she says.
Trying to explain why an assignment wasn’t too hard for you is also a microaggression, Starkman advises students at elite colleges like Stanford. So don’t even think about telling peers if you’ve already been exposed to a subject or idea in high school.
“Not everyone went to your high school, had your fortunate circumstances, or such a dazzling delivery room arrival, and even if they did, they might still be suffering because of the genuine challenges of the assignments,” Starkman writes.
Fundamentally, Starkman says, some students struggle while others breeze through because of an injustice—namely “unevenly distributed knowledge.”
In Starkman’s mind, any student who comes to an elite university with a decent educational foundation is excelling because of their wealth and privilege. “Chances are,” Starkman writes, “your parents paid substantial sums of money for that knowledge, either in property taxes in highly resourced school districts or in private education or in pricey enrichment.”
(That’s right: Paying a lot of money in property taxes is now another form of privilege people should feel guilty about.)
“Your response ‘I already had this in high school’ really means ‘not only do I have rich parents, I somehow took exactly the right courses to be perfectly prepared,’” Starkman writes. “Congrats if you did. Try not to be a jerk about it.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.