Purdue Prof Oddly Links Academic ‘Rigor’ to Erections, ‘White Male Privilege’

It’s getting weird out there, folks.

According to Professor Donna Riley, the head of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education, academic “rigor accomplishes dirty deeds” and demonstrates “white male heterosexual privilege” with its “undeniable” link to male fertility... or something like that.

First, Riley defines “rigor” as “the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality,” such as “rigorous engineering education.” Then, she goes for broke with the wildest of associations:

“One of rigor’s purposes is, to put it bluntly, a thinly veiled assertion of white male (hetero)sexuality… [it] has a historical lineage of being about hardness, stiffness, and erectness; its sexual connotations — and links to masculinity in particular — are undeniable.”

But why stop there. Riley goes on to note how her “visceral reaction” when someone asserts their “rigor” in education, or the STEM fields, is to tell that person “(regardless of gender) to whip them out and measure them already.” 

Is it surprising at all that the keywords for her paper include “feminist theory” and “liberal education?”

Rigor doesn’t just remind her of male genitalia, and  keeping with the theme of reproduction, it also “reproduces inequality,” she says:

“Rigor may be a defining tool, revealing how structural forces of power and privilege operate to exclude men of color and women, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, first-generation and low-income students, and non-traditionally aged students.”

There is also “decades of ethnographic research document[ing] a climate of microaggressions and cultures of whiteness and masculinity in engineering” and an “inherent masculinist, white, and global North bias... all under a guise of neutrality.”

The crazy is strong with this one.

Therefore, academic rigor needs to be replaced, Riley asserts, with something more agreeable to her: “[W]e cannot reinvent it but rather must relinquish it, looking to alternative conceptualizations for evaluating knowledge, welcoming diverse ways of knowing, doing, and being, and moving from compliance to engagement, from rigor to vigor.”

Since when did an engineering education include identity politics and white male shaming? Does Riley actually teach engineering, or is her class only about harvesting STEM activists? If the goal is to diversify the fields of science and engineering, Riley and her ilk may soon discover that they've run off the gender which overwhelmingly enlists in these kinds of courses. 

H/T Campus Reform