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Ohio State University health course requires students to address their White, heterosexual privileges

A health sciences program offered at The Ohio State University requires students to address their privileges if they are White, heterosexual or able-bodied.

A health sciences program offered at The Ohio State University requires those who sign up for the course to take part in an array of discussions and assignments about gender and race, including one that asks students to address their privileges if they are White, heterosexual or able-bodied.

The course – titled Individual Differences in Patient/Client Populations – is offered through the university's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and is a recipient of the school's Affordable Learning Exchange (ALX) grant, which "awards grants to instructors who want to transform their courses using open and affordable materials."

Documents regarding the autumn 2023 online course, which were reviewed by Fox News Digital, were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Do No Harm, a group of physicians, health care professionals, medical students, patients and policymakers who aim to "protect healthcare from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology."

One such required class assignment, which was outlined in the FOIA-obtained documents related to the course, is titled "Unpack the Invisible Knapsack" and asks students to complete a series of "activities" about their "privilege."


Three "activities" were listed on the document for students to select from – the "White Privilege Knapsack," the "Heterosexual Privilege Knapsack" and the "Able-Bodied Privilege Knapsack" – though students were given the option to substitute the heterosexual privilege and able-bodied privilege activities for another, more recent knapsack topic from other scholars and activists.

The assignment stems from a 1989 essay titled "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," which was written by feminist scholar and anti-racist activist Peggy McIntosh.

Included in the course documents were an array of excerpts from McIntosh's work. Such statements from the work that attempted to prove White privilege exists were featured in the course document, including one that stated, "Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color."


Regarding the assignment, students were asked to write a reflection and "consider how this differs or does not differ from how you've framed your relative privilege before, what you can do with the amount of privilege you DO have, how things would be different if you had more privilege, etc."

While the "White Privilege Knapsack" activity required an OSU login to view, the "Heterosexual Privilege Knapsack" activity was made available without a required login. Split into two categories titled "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," the privilege activity told students that if you're a straight person you "do not need to worry that people will harass or assault" you.

In addition to the knapsack activities, students were also required to watch a documentary titled "White People" and discuss their thoughts about the film. According to the course document, students were required to address "whiteness" and describe what "the term ‘white’ mean[s]" to them. The students were also asked to explain how they "navigate race" in their daily lives and why "the statement 'Black lives mat[t]er' triggers some white Americans."


Students were also asked to read "Ten things everyone should know about race," which included the idea that "race is a modern idea, race has no genetic basics, and race is not biological, but racism is real."

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, who serves as chairman of Do No Harm, told Fox News Digital that the course furthers a narrative seen across many American universities that are "indoctrinating students."

"The curriculum within Ohio State University’s Health Sciences Program highlights a broader trend found in many universities nationwide – the adoption of divisive and political ideologies aimed at indoctrinating students," Goldfarb said. "They theorize that interactions between groups must be viewed through the lens of critical race theory and the oppressor/oppressed dyad. This is pure identity politics and can only lead to divisiveness and intergroup hostility."

"Rather than veering into polarizing debates that deviate from health care's core values, universities should prioritize equipping future health care providers with the crucial skills, knowledge and empathetic understanding essential to deliver the best care possible," Goldfarb added.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Ben Johnson, a spokesperson for the university, said, "Ohio State believes in academic freedom and freedom of expression, including the free exchange of ideas by students and instructors. The university seeks to foster and maintain a campus environment where all viewpoints are welcome and respected."

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