Students file bias reports over border wall exam question
Multiple students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison recently filed complaints about a statistics exam question about a hypothetical border wall to the school’s Bias Response Team.
The students apparently found the question, which set up a hypothetical scenario in which the federal government was building a wall along the southern border to prevent kangaroos from repeatedly jumping over, to be “humiliating” and “insensitive,” according to The Badger Herald.
“What’s the common phrase that’s used when people try to [cross into the U.S.]? ‘Jump the border,’” explained student Cesar Andrez Aguilar, one of three students in the statistics class to file a complaint on the question. “When I saw the word ‘kangaroos,’ it suddenly felt humiliating—it was humiliating for the people, the little kids [who] sacrifice their lives trying to make it across the border. It dumbfounded me.”
Meanwhile, Aguilar’s peer Alan Meza said he wasn’t disappointed in the professor who wrote the exam as much as he was with the entire statistics department, which, he pointed out, “works together to create [tests] to make sure the wording is OK, that the material is OK.”
“They looked at [the question] and said ‘OK, let’s give it out,’” he complained. “Nobody said anything, nobody decided to change it—that’s where my discomfort comes from.”
A member of the UW Bias Response Team informed one of the complainants last week that the department had been notified of the complaints, and that some instructors had even requested an opportunity to apologize to the disgruntled students.
According to The Herald, the unnamed professor formally apologized to the entire class for the question, though one student, Esmeralda Tovar, indicated that she is nonetheless working to arrange a meeting so that she can address the incident with all statistics professors and the department chair.
“It doesn’t cost anyone to learn about something like this. Talking about incidents like these will help so many students and given them the opportunity to have their eyes opened to these issues,” Aguilar asserted, saying that while he appreciates the professor’s apology, he remains alarmed that only three students—out of the hundreds who took the exam—raised objections to its content.
“More students need to be more aware of these types of issues, and we as students need to be more sensitive toward other people,” he concluded. “We need to address these issues. The moment when we choose to not speak up is when things like this happen.”
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