Quotas at Quinnipiac: "We Very Much Want an African-American for That Particular Position"

Ashley Thorne

An Argus volunteer sent me an article from the student newspaper The Quinnipiac Chronicle, “Lahey Wants Black Diversity Director.” The article refers to Quinnipiac University President John Lahey and describes a meeting two weeks ago of the Student Government Association in which Lahey outlined his preferences for a new hire.

According to the Chronicle, Lahey said this person should be a “high quality African-American.” Matt Busekroos, who wrote the article, told me he attended the meeting in person and recorded, but did not transcribe, what was said.

Busekroos quotes Lahey saying, “We could fill that position tomorrow if we wanted to but we very much want, now that we have a Hispanic in the case of the chief diversity officer, an African-American for that particular position.”

And, “Even though there are more diverse, different groups that the [associate director of student diversity programming] works with, we think having that person be an African-American is very important to concluding that search.”

The position is for an “associate director of student diversity programming.” The title alone should give us pause. Student diversity programming? Besides sounding like a creepy effort to “program” students, it’s a title that needs some explaining. The responsibilities of the position are listed on the university’s website:

  • Provides leadership and direction in the development, coordination, and support of student programs that promote diversity and cultural awareness
  • Advise the Campus Multicultural Programming Board
  • Liaison to campus multicultural student organizations
  • Coordinate the ALANA-I mentor program
  • Serve as a resource for all students and staff in the area of diversity awareness

ALANA-I stands for Asian, Latino, African, Native American, and international, and the mentor program is supposed to help “new students of color and international students” adapt to college life. No rationale is provided for segmenting minority students off into their own programs, nor is it clear why the associate director of student diversity programming could not be Asian, Native American, or of European origin. Latino, it appears, is already covered by Diane Ariza who was recently hired as the chief diversity officer.

For many college administrators, the ideal university is a giant support system for the chief diversity officer (see “What Does a Chief Diversity Officer Actually Do?”), and this position is intended to augment that network. Is an associate director of student diversity programming really necessary? Is funding that position a good investment of families’ tuition dollars and donors’ gifts? From the job description, it appears to be one of those posts used to extend the politically correct kingdom and to divvy students up by identity group.

I know of one woman (another Argus volunteer) at a large university in the South who has been pigeonholed into “diversity” roles specifically because of her race. She sought to escape the toxic environment of racial labeling by changing departments, but was told by her supervisor that there would be some difficulty “finding a black woman to replace you.” She recalled, “There I was,just one person sitting there, but she was seeing a group.” That’s the mistake Quinnipiac is making—failing to see the individual person.

University officials did not deny the declarations by President Lahey quoted in the Chronicle, and Vice President for Public Affairs Lynn Bushnell emailed me the same “diversity” boilerplate she sent Busekroos. She wrote, “We are taking steps to increase diversity among the staff, particularly at the most senior levels. There are several recently created positions that should enable us to make further strides in this area.”

Quinnipiac, it appears, has shamelessly built racial preferences into its hiring. And it may not be just for this position. The Chronicle suggests that Ariza may have been selected because she is Hispanic: “On Tuesday, Ariza told the Chronicle she wants to believe she was hired ‘not because I was Latina, but that I was the most skilled.’ ‘And if I happen to be Latina,’ she said, ‘then good for everybody.’”

But racial preferences aren’t good for everybody. What if the candidate happens to be white? Clearly President Lahey is holding out, waiting to fill the position with a person of a particular race, and refusing to consider others.

This stands in open violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. What emboldened the president of a prestigious university to flagrantly flout the law?

We saw a similar case of indiscretion a few weeks ago at Brooklyn College, where a faculty member urged other faculty by email to “correct the lily-white imbalances” on the dean’s search committees. In that case, the faculty member let her guard down because she felt safe to do so—because academe has incubated an atmosphere in which on-the-sly racial preferences and quiet evasions of the law have become comfortable. That’s why President Lahey expected a warm reception to his endeavors to hire only an African-American, and it’s why Vice President Bushnell backed him up.

Today is Election Day, and in Arizona voters must decide on Proposition 107, which if passed will ban race preferences in the state’s public institutions, including colleges and universities. Now is the time to stand up for racial equality, and for measuring a person by his character and abilities, not by his skin color.

We urge Quinnipiac University to do the same.

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