Sunday, March 6, 2022

Intersectionalism Equals Balkanization


Professor Joe Gibbs Politz, of the University of California-San Diego, recently assigned his Computer Science and Engineering students a Google Form survey for his Winter 2022 class, “CSE 15L: Software Tools and Techniques Laboratory,” via his class website.  

The exercise, part of a broader Google Form assignment, includes a section where students are instructed to select their identity so Professor Politz can assign lab groups accordingly.  

The form survey stated: “Sometimes people like to form groups with others that share an aspect of their identity. If you would like us to try to form your lab group with others that share a similar characteristic, please select all of the attributes of your identity or interests that you might like to have in common with others in your group.”

Politz added, “Note that the list below is in no way comprehensive and has some standard categorizations plus some that past students found useful. Feel free to write in other identities or interests we might consider, like 'first-year student,' or 'student athlete,' in the Other option." 

The “list below” included identity options such as non-binary, Latinx, LGBTQ+, Black, international student, non-traditional student, first-generation college student, parent, “nervous/apprehensive about coding,” Native American, and plain old boring “woman,” according to Campus Reform.

It’s great to bring intersectionalism into science and engineering classes. It would be sad if everyone just identified as, say, “American,” “student,” or “human.” Cohesion and team building are overrated. I mean, it’s not rocket science. It’s computer science.

I want to know how many students identify as “two-spirit,” “anogender,” or “canine.” How big will the lab group identifying as lexdysic dyslexic Italian lesbians be? Will one group be comprised of incontinent Hispanic Jews born on a Tuesday afternoon during a full moon?

Balkanization. Good for the classroom. Good for the nation. No?


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