"What if it was 'Oh, the gay one,' or 'Oh, the Asian kid?' " asks Maggie Kwok, head of the Penn State Veterans Organization in an interview with the Daily Collegian, PSU's student newspaper. She is referring to a "training video," prepared by the university's Counseling and Psychological Services office, depicting "worrisome student behavior."Contrast Penn State's consideration for veterans with that of California's universities and the Troops To College program.
The office swiftly removed the video when it prompted a kerfuffle, but the PSU College Republicans preserved it on YouTube. It's a fascinating documentation of academic prejudice...
The video's salient stereotype, however, is not of veterans as thickheaded but as angry...
All the videos in the series concern students behaving in ways that are creepy but not necessarily dangerous. In the first, a young woman tells her professor that a young man in her class has an unreciprocated romantic interest in her and has been making her feel uncomfortable. "It's not like he's stalking me or anything," she allows, but then she describes behavior that some may reckon crossed that line.
The second depicts a female student who is behaving erratically for reasons that are unspecified--perhaps trauma, mental illness or drug abuse.
The third shows a classroom discussion on news coverage of violent crime. When the conversation turns toward school shootings, a black-shirted male student in the back row remarks that such violence "doesn't make sense to me. Why shoot at the other students? Personally, I'd blow up Old Main or shoot up the administration. That's where the real problems are."
The video about The Veteran is similar to the others, in that all depict abnormal behavior by young people who probably are normal, but are immature or temporarily impaired. But the characters in the other videos are all completely generic, with no distinguishing characteristics other than their sex. Only The Veteran is fleshed out enough even to be a stereotype. (boldface mine--Darren)
Update, 4/11/09: I need to flesh this out a little more. Here's what I sent on the topic to an email list of which I am a member:
It's clear that the people who made this video have a definite bias, one so strong that they don't even see it. THAT is the problem here. It would have been "insensitive", or stupid, if they'd included other stereotypes--the thugged-out black kid who looks threatening, the jock who won't take no for an answer, the Muslim who won't accept the authority of a woman professor. That they singled out only one, the veteran, is what makes this especially galling. Had they *only* singled out one of the other stereotypes I listed above, do you think there would be as much silence on this issue as there is with the veteran?