Take ‘The Privilege Meter’ test

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NORMAN, Okla. - It is invisible, powerful and uncomfortable: white privilege.

Once again, the University of Oklahoma is at the center of a heated debate on a controversial race issue.

If you're not familiar with the term, privilege is the unearned, unnoticed sum of assets gifted to the majority at birth, because they are the norm.

In America, being white means you will experience life differently than your minority neighbors.

Most people believe there are several forms of privilege, it's not just for white Americans.

But, a sort of societal benefit-of-the-doubt exists also for those who are straight, male, wealthy, Christian.

"What we're trying to do in those classes is to teach people to understand the perspective of other people, to use empathy," said OU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kelly Damphousse.

This semester, a human relations theory class assignment went viral, after students were asked to take a privilege test.

The test included a 100-question survey to score one's privilege.

An underclassman was reportedly offended by the discussion.

"I still don't know who the student is," Damphousse said. "I wish the student would've come talk to me, so I could have helped the student work through these issues."

That student wrote an anonymous letter to a conservative columnist, who wrote a story, which unleashed all kinds of venom online about race, gender and faith.

READ: "Warning: White people singing Rihanna could cause ‘microaggressions’"

"The idea behind microaggressions is that people don't understand how they can say things or do things that seem aggressive to people who are on the receiving end of things," Damphousse said.

The vice president of University Community at OU, Jabar Schumate, is concerned about the picture the article paints about tolerance on campus.

Shumate was appointed by OU President David Boren last year.

He is an advocate for tolerance.

"I haven't been able to pinpoint where it occurred," Shumate said.

So far, the university cannot figure out which HR class hosted the privilege discussion.

There are more than 1,000 students in the program and about 25 instructors.

Many touch on this topic.

"I'd have to understand more about how that conversation was facilitated to know whether I could tell you if I was real comfortable with that conversation," Shumate said.

Both the dean and the vice president emphasize everyone at OU should feel respected, every opinion is valued.

Administrators will spend the summer working through their own assignment: how could this have been done better?

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