Professor at UCI - Department of Criminology, Law & Society

“Has anyone ever been a bystander to hate?” The question hangs in the air. Valerie Jenness, UCI professor of criminology, law & society, eyes her fall-quarter class of freshmen expectantly.

After some hesitation, students begin raising their hands. One recounts a video she saw recently, filmed in her hometown, of an Asian man being verbally harassed on a train. Another relates how her best friend in high school was often taunted for his sexuality. A third tells of a high school chemistry class in which a lesbian friend was subjected to homophobic slurs from peers while others just watched. “In that case,” she says, “the people saying nothing were almost the worst part. Their silence was deafening.”

These students from various majors and backgrounds have one thing in common: They don’t want to be silent bystanders. Jenness’ course fosters the informed dialogue necessary to ensure they won’t be. The first of three seminars in a yearlong, integrated freshman series called Perspectives on Bias, Prejudice & Bigotry, it focuses primarily on homophobia but draws on countless tangential topics – police brutality, socioeconomic challenges, racial discrimination, etc.

Continue reading Megan Cole’s article here: BATTLING BIAS