Who is the head of James Madison University? VA college labels White Christians as 'oppressors'

In a training video shown to JMU student employees the 'oppressors' are considered a threat to oppressed groups of different races, gender, religions


                            Who is the head of James Madison University? VA college labels White Christians as 'oppressors'
Jonathan Algers is the current head of James Madison University where a training video on oppression became controversial (JMU)

Virginia's James Madison University is training student employees using a video that describes people who identify as straight, White, male, or Christian as "oppressors" that engage in the "systemic subjugation" of other social groups defined as "oppressed". According to documents accessed by Fox News, student employees in charge of facilitating orientation for first-year students this fall underwent training recently to learn about social justice and inclusion. 

The training video was hosted by coordinators Jessica Weed and Jennifer Iwerks from JMU, describing the institution as the "Disneyworld of colleges". The video described oppression as "the systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic and political benefit of the more powerful social group." The video highlighted the oppressor group as the one with "power to define reality for themselves and others" and the oppressed as the target groups who "take in an internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them)."

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Who is the head of James Madison University?

Jonathan R Alger is the current head of James Madison University. He became the sixth president of JMU in 2012. According to his bio on the University's bio, "under his leadership, this public comprehensive university in Virginia with 22,000 students developed a bold new vision to be 'the national model of the engaged university: engaged with ideas and the world' and a strategic plan focused on engaged learning, community engagement, and civic engagement."

Alger is a nationally recognized scholar and speaker on high education policy and law. He has done significant editorial work for scholarly journals and publications such as The Journal of College and University Law and The Law of Higher Education (the leading treatise in the field). He co-teaches a leadership seminar in JMU's Honors College and has previously taught graduate and undergraduate courses at Rutgers and Michigan in law, higher education, public policy, and diversity.

The Rochester, New York resident studied BA at Swarthmore College where he majored in political science with a history minor and public policy concentration. He received his J.D with honors from Harvard Law School. His wife Mary Ann serves in many volunteer capacities at JMU and in the community and has an MBA from the University of Miami. His daughter Eleanor is a Miami University graduate and is enrolled in an MFA program for dramatic writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design. 

Privileged agents vs Oppressed targets 

The presentation described the privileged or "agents" as male, cisgender, heterosexual, heteroromantic, Christian, White, Western European, American, upper to middle class, thin/athletic build, able-bodies, and between ages the 30s to early 50s. The oppressed groups or "targets" were described as people who identify as Black, Asian, Latinx, non-Western European, LGBTQ+, homoromantic, Muslim, Jewish, working-class, overweight, or disabled amongst others. After the training, the student staff were sent an email telling them to keep the learnings to themselves. 

A JMU spokesperson in a statement to Fox News said the training was held so the staff was well-equipped to work with incoming students "who might have a different background than their own." The statement read, "At JMU, we strive to create an inclusive and welcoming community for all students. We also seek feedback on the training to constantly work on improving how we communicate and train student staff members."

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