A blogger whom I assume to be a University of Delaware grad writes here about the latest manifestations of the school's diversity mania. It has recently established a new Center for the Study of Diversity (how much skepticism do you think there will be as to the benefits of it?) and that student course evaluations now include a question asking what lawyers would consider a leading question: were you prejudged by the professor based on your race, ethnicity or gender?
It seems that quite a few of them ought to resign so that their positions could be filled by others who better "mirror the diversity of society." At least that's the implication of this recent Dartblog post. I'm guessing that the theory ceases to apply when it comes to the non-diverse people who form the backbone of the diversity-enforcement crowd. Hat tip: Jack Sommer
Yale's med school is jumping aboard the bandwagon for increasing diversity in its student body, aiming to include more LGBT students. I can't see how aiming at quotas (or "goals" or some other euphemism) for this or any other type of student will improve the overall competency of the medical profession. I can see the reverse of that.
Judging by the UCal Berkeley administration's nuke 'em reaction, you might have thought that the Ku Klux Klan had staged a rally on campus, rather than a symbolic bake sale by college Republicans protesting the university's race-based admissions policies. Mind you, I didn't expect that the school's "diversity" machine would be exactly thrilled by the sale of differently-priced cupcakes, calculated to reflect the extent to which some students' admissions were weighted higher according to racial or ethnic classifications. But for Pete's sake, why did they send in the 101st airborne? Bob Weissberg has an interesting take on the whole mess in this article over at Minding the Campus.
While free speech on a college campus may have been the high profile issue of the recent disruptions of guest speakers by students at UW/Madison, political scientist Bob Weissberg surveys the university's vast "diversity industry" at Minding the Campus and compares it to his remembrance of UW long ago and far away, during his days as a graduate student.
Minding the Campus today features CEO president Roger Clegg's eyewitness account of the recent "diversity" protests by students at the University of Wisconsin, along with this commentary by KC Johnson. As you can see, it takes much stronger stuff than anything the protestors could muster to daunt Roger Clegg.
Our friend Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity notes at Phi Beta Cons that a full US Fifth Circuit Appeals court has upheld the ruling of a three-judge panel in favor of the "top ten per cent" admissions policies adopted for state institutions in Texas. You can also read about it here at Inside Higher Education.
In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal quotes Mark Zuckerberg, the kid from Harvard who heads the CEO of a company-not-yet-public. (Goldman-Sachs VIP insiders only, please). What disturbed me about the article is not that another company is breaking into the so-called China market after the Google row over censorship. I'm more disturbed by the mealy-mouth rationalization of Zuckerberg, who seems to have breathed in the multicultural fumes of higher education.
This Chronicle article covers a recent symposium on that most horrific of problems, an inadequate level of diversity. The focus of this particular symposium was insufficient diversity in the legal profession. A revealing quotation: "Our profession is among the least diverse in the country," said Conrad A. Johnson, a panelist and clinical professor at Columbia. "If we maintain the current status quo, we will find ourselves falling further and further behind if our goal is to obtain parity with the general population." Why should that be a goal of law schools or of the legal profession? If someone wants a good estate planning attorney, he doesn't care about the ancestry of the best estate planners he might choose, much less the diversity of the whole legal profession. The law profs who fret about "parity with the general population" have a central planning mentality that's common among academics, but is completely irrelevant to decision-makers in the real world.
The Chronicle has an article by Arthur Coleman and Scott Palmer (both lawyers who worked in the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights) entitled "No Time for Complacency on Racial Diversity." George Leef of the Pope Center sent off a letter in reply, arguing that we ought to be complacent about racial diversity, as well as diversity of all other kinds.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center has listed NAS President Peter Wood's book Diversity: The Invention of a Concept in its inventory of "150+ Books You Should Be Reading In Class, But Probably Aren't." Diversity is featured this week as part of the Center's "Adopt a Dissenting Book" campaign. Thanks to the Freedom Center for the plug, and we certainly encourage student to take its advice and learn the truth about the roots of the campus "diversity" movement. It's not something colleges and universities are transparent about, and it will help you distinguish diversity as an ideology from diversity as physical and cultural variation. In The New Criterion, John Derbyshire called Diversity "a fine book, full of cogent arguments, curious facts, and nasty slimy things that burrowed away unnoticed under the foundations of our culture till Professor Wood turned them up with his trowel." We don't want today's students to miss those arguments, facts, and slimy things.
NAS contributing author Jason Fertig rejoiced when he read a student's essay on the meaning of diversity and how it contributes to organizations' success. She wrote that diversity should require "a variety of minds" - regardless of skin color. An excerpt from her paper:
People have become too sensitive in today’s society when it comes to diversity. Just because there are more white men with the same color of light skin in one office building does not mean that they do their job better or worse than a diverse office with a mix of races, genders, and skin colors. Diverse organizations should be made up of a variety of minds. Race, color, sex, nationality, and religion should not be the sole determining factors of whether an organization is diverse or not. Different thoughts and opinions are what make organizations work and thrive. Different people coming together and putting their ideas together is how we transform and grow our organizations. Once society begins to understand this, our organizations will not have to worry about discrimination or affirmative action; diversity will come naturally.
Maybe, but it's still growing like mad. Consider John Rosenberg's new essay on Minding the Campus, on the efforts college administrators are making to solve the supposed problem of insufficient diversity in study-abroad programs. It's not enough to diversify the student body by picking some students on the basis of their ancestry; if any aspect of college life doesn't "model diversity" then something must be done. Too few black students think that study-abroad programs are worthwhile and that's a problem that must be addressed. All those Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers need something to do. They scour the college landscape hunting for "inequities" like this. What next? The chess club?
An Argus volunteer gave us an update on the latest efforts to enforce "diversity" on faculty members at Virginia Tech. Last year Virginia Tech required faculty members to prove the value of their "contributions to diversity" in order to be eligible for promotion and tenure.
Over at Pajamasmedia, “Zombie” is in the midst of a five part analysis of the Texas textbook battle. In The Language Police (2004), Diane Ravitch argued that to avoid offending any conceivable sensibility, publishers produce absurd textbooks in which men cannot be depicted as larger than women, Asians cannot appear studious, and the elderly must not be ill or infirm. In a word: pablum. Zombie, however, sees the Texas smackdown as a significant rebellion against the Left’s Gramscian “long march through the institutions” which has necessitated speech codes, historical revisionism, and dubious curriculum standards. One recalls the noxious National Standards for U.S. and World History exposed by Lynne Cheney here and National Council of the Teachers of English “standards” that include expectations such as “Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes . . . .” Oh, the rigor! American education may wear the face of Alfred E. Neuman, but he has a globalist, multiculturalist, social justice lovin' grin. Zombie lambasts both Right and Left in the Texas shoot-out but he also notes that
. . . activists [once] denounced nationwide educational standards which prevented teachers from presenting `alternative’ facts and viewpoints. But now that the once-alternative progressive framework has become ascendent [sic] and dominates the education landscape, the left (or at least the Obama wing of the left) has flipped policies, and these days they insist on imposing nationwide educational standards to prevent any local schoolboards or states from sneaking off the political plantation and exposing students to conservative values.
Running through Friday; check it out.
Today NAS received a copy of this speech by UNC-Greensboro Chancellor Linda P. Brady. The speech was given on August 18, 2010 as a "State of the Campus" address. Brady bows to politically correct idols in a fashion typical at today's colleges and universities: Diversity
Medical school admissions people apparently think that medical training has been going too much toward students with demonstrated aptitude in science and the nation would be better served if more medical students were chosen on other grounds, including geography. In today's Pope Center piece, Duke Cheston, a recent UNC graduate who majored in biology, writes about the shifting emphasis in med school admissions.
I could be wrong, but in the wake of all the mudwrestling that's followed the NAACP's recent branding of Tea Partiers as racists, I think that the ideological fulcrum of the "diversity" debate has significantly shifted ground. For once, the response by public figures has been direct and emphatic, instead of the usual backpedaling after some vague, apologetic mumbling about the need to "include" all groups, the value of a diverse work force or the wish to avoid offending anyone, etc., etc., etc. The public rejection of the NAACP's allegations, moreover, has been bi-partisan, including prominent Republicans such as Sarah Palin and no less than Vice President Biden and President Obama on the Democratic side of the aisle. Hopefully, this means that absurd or silly allegations of racism will no longer compel politicans and bureaucrats to jump through the hoop as they've done so frequently in the past. Especially encouraging, though, is this piece by Virgina Democrat James Webb in today's Wall Street Journal. Webb argues that although "diversity" policies had their origins in the laudable and necessary efforts to redress the unique injustices suffered by black Americans, they have long since become obsessed with skin color or ethnic background, often with unconcealed hostility toward whites. Thus, newly arrived immigrants often benefit from these policies, even though their own experiences don't remotely resemble those of blacks. It doesn't stop there either, since in many academic institutions, "diversity" and "inclusiveness" now extend to ever -expanding categories of sexuality, life experiences or those with physical disabilities. A particularly hard sell for me has always been affirmative action for "women" within the diversity rubric, as though the largely white, middle-class feminist movement could claim grievances comparable to those suffered historically by blacks. Yet many academic job postings routinely specify that "women and ethnic or racial minorities are especially encouraged to apply." That doesn't compute. Anyway, Webb says it's now time to end racial preferences, stop discriminating against whites, and simply treat everyone equally under the law. Amen.
In this Chronicle post, Richard Kahlenberg responds to some criticism (which he labels as "right" and "left") of his signature issue, namely promoting socio-economic diversity as another criterion in college admissions. I don't think his responses are convincing. Moreover, he overlooks two assumptions his case rests on. I know that at least the latter of the two has been attacked because I have done so. First, Kahlenberg leaps to the conclusion that just because a student comes from a relatively poor family and succeeds in school well enough to qualify for college admission, that student is a "striver" who has "overcome obstacles." I don't think that follows. Being relatively poor in the U.S. does not mean deprivation of anything essential. And with the lowering of academic standards, graduating from high school with "good" grades is pretty easy these days. Some kids from poorer homes no doubt have had to deal with serious problems and disruptions around them, but we shouldn't assume that low-income status implies that. Besides, there are non-poor students who have managed to deal with difficulties. Second, what is the reason for thinking that it's a "reward" to go to an elite college or university? If, for example, a student from a relatively poor family in eastern North Carolina could get into East Carolina on his merits, is it much better for him to instead go to Duke? The assumption seems to be that schools with higher US News rankings are "better" schools, but what justifies that assumption? Courses are not necessarily taught better at Duke; they may be taught less well. Will the student have a brighter, more lucrative career with a Duke pedigree than ECU? Possibly, but it's by no means certain. The reverse is possible, especially if the student is near the bottom of the more intellectually competitive student body at Duke. Finally, the more prestigious degree might help the student land his first job, but in the long run people are rewarded on their productivity, not their credentials. I'm with Roger Clegg (see his comment) in thinking that the less colleges give preferences to applicants because of characteristics such as family ancestry and circumstances and the more they evaluate them on academic interest and aptitude, the better.
If you haven't already done so, check out this piece by Ross Douthat in the New York Times. Following up on Russell Nieli's compelling reasearch, which we referenced here last week, Douthat - himself a Harvard graduate - takes note of the deep and ever widening cultural divide between elite academic institutions and the values of rural, religiously observant working-class whites, who are notably absent from Ivy League campuses. Don't think though, that this means anyone sees a need to seek them out for the sake of increasing "diversity" at Yale or Princeton. No, the academics at these cloistered, self-referencing institutions are likely to see only "crypto-klansmen and budding Timothy McVeighs" among the farmers, Eagle Scouts or aspiring R.O.T.C. candidates who currently have the toughest row to hoe if they apply to most top schools. If these applicants think that the deck is stacked against them, that's because it is: the "perfessers" really don't like folks like them.
Princeton's Russ Nieli has an illuminating essay on Minding the Campus entitled "How Diversity Punishes Asians, Poor Whites and Lots of Others." It absolutely knocks the stuffing out of the contention we hear so often from college administrators that their reason for using certain preferences is that a more "diverse" student body will enhance learning and break down stereotypes. If they actually wanted to do that, they would look for students who really do bring different beliefs and perspectives and would drop the bias Nieli shows against students from military families, those who have been active in groups like 4H, and so on. They aren't looking for Justice Powell's phantom "educational benefits of diversity" but are merely looking to fill quotas. Nieli advocates that elite colleges get over their diversity mania and follow what he calls the Cal Tech model: focus on enrolling students who are the most academically talented and the most eager to learn.
You may have thought - or wished - that American colleges and universities had finally exhausted the outer reaches of "diversity" on their campuses. Really, there's simply GOT to be a finite limit to this thing, and we really will run out of special categories, special programs, special courses, special campus codes and relentless micromanagement by administrators, hiring committees and dormitory resident heads seeing that students and faculty members are sufficiently serious about "diversity." Well, if that's what you thought, brace yourself: according to this piece in today's Chronicle of Higher Education, a new, significantly expanded version of "diversity" is about to arrive on campus, with lots of new student classifications and obligations to accomodate them. And here's a surprise: this also means vastly greater possibilities for antidiscrimination litigation as well. Take students with various physical or learning disabilities, for example: they're accustomed to all kinds of accomodations, whether in the use of guide dogs or the constant availability of special education teachers during their K-12 years that aren't currently provided in most college programs. If all of they're accustomed to receiving these services at the secondary level, then why can't colleges and universities do likewise? There may be nothing wrong providing such accomodations, of course, but it's not immediately obvious how they're related to the idea of "diversity." This is in addition, of course, to the endlessly proliferating categories of ethnic racial and sexual categories which will have to be recognized and accomodated. If you've been troubled by the imperial march of "diversity" up to now, this is not going to make for very edifying reading. Simillar to The Blob, it expands endlessly. The comments thread, though, suggests that a number of readers have finally reached their limits and are willing to say so. Hopefully, they'll speak up at faculty meetings as well.
This weekend, I graduated from the University of Missouri with a BA in political science. Walking across the stage to receive my diploma gave me a great feeling, particularly after being away from school for a few years. My experience this past year at a major state university instructed me not only in the nature of scholarship, but in those other things that have so little to do with, but so often accompany, the serious work of the academy. The commencement exercise featured the usual fanfare, a notable part of which has become the donning of specialized, non-academic apparel in addition to the traditional academic attire of such events. Students not only wear gown, cap and tassel, but many if not most black students also displayed brightly-colored, boldly-designed sashes, ribbons and mortar board decorations representing racially-defined organizations. The idea seems to be to celebrate the black experience of one's college years. Call me curmudgeonly, but I think this inappropriately draws attention away from those wearing distinctive apparel recognizing actual academic achievement. This strikes me as a presumptuous prerogative. The function of commencement is to confer an academic degree and mark a new start for graduates. The alternative attire not only ignores that purpose and diverts attention from its highest exemplars, but elevates racial identity to similar standing with the active, educational endeavors of the wearer. Academic officials would do well to curtail this "celebration of diversity," restoring dignity not only of ceremonial purpose, but to all its participants.
The current issue of Academic Questions focuses on “sustainability,” that hollow abstraction around which coalesce feel-good connotations of moral superiority and environmental correctness. At the very least, higher education should foster a scrupulous, continuous, and critical attention to language, yet academia today seems more enamored of rhetoric which is either empty (“student success”) or deceptive (“social justice”). My own college has an institutional commitment to “diversity,” a word whose apparent meaning changes from document to document even though HR requires all teaching applicants to produce a “Diversity Statement.” Diversity is a good thing and we’re for it, and, by gosh, you had better be, too, whatever it is! We also have an institutional commitment to “critical thinking.” In my experience, most teachers are confident they know what critical thinking is (it’s what they do) but hardly any can provide a definition. For them, "critical thinking" is just another abstract good thing. Actually, California State University Chancellor Glenn Dumke's Executive Order 338 defined "critical thinking instruction" as
. . . designed to achieve an understanding of the relationship of language to logic, which should lead to the ability to analyze, criticize, and advocate ideas, to reason inductively and deductively, and to reach factual or judgmental conclusions based on sound inferences drawn from unambiguous statements of knowledge or belief (1980).
Personally, I favor William Graham Sumner’s succinct definition of critical thinking as “the examination of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not” (1906). By either definition, my school’s proud commitment to “Promote academic excellence and critical thinking across all areas and disciplines” is incoherent since critical thinking is not germane in all disciplines. Music? Dance? Literature? Ornamental horticulture? The academy’s adoption of language which is, in Peggy Noonan’s words, “bland and indecipherable,” betrays the foundation of verbal communication itself--that, as David Mulroy puts it in The War Against Grammar, “intelligible statements have definite literal meanings.” “Sustainability,” “diversity,” “social justice,” “critical thinking” are intended to convey feelings, not meanings. In Disturbing the Peace, Vaclav Havel asks, “Isn't just such a subtle abuse of the truth, and of language, the real beginning . . . of the misery of the world we live in?” Perhaps higher education should be promoting clarity rather than sponsoring a new confusion of tongues.
I student of mine is applying for a job. Here is some of the verbiage on the job description page: "Strengthened by Diversity GCSU is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative-Action Institution committed to cultural, racial and multi-ethnic communities and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is expected that successful candidates share in this commitment." I note that they don't ask if the candidate is committed to quality scholarship, opposed to smoking, and being committed to rooting out obesity. How lacking in inclusivity!
In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, John Eick (our intern and a student at UNC-Chapel Hill) writes about his experience in a "Diversity 101" training session. Turns out that this amounted to nothing more than a bull session where a UNC staffer brought up a number of feeble leftist tropes regarding "diversity." The exercise was a waste of time and university money, but UNC gets to crow about its commitment to diversity.
Should campus groups be able to limit membership only to those who share a set of beliefs? Put it that way and the matter seems pretty innocuous. Ah, but if you state that in a pejorative way -- should they be allowed to discriminate against those who don't share that set of beliefs? -- then alarm bells go off in the academic world because "discrimination" is contrary to the cherished notion that all groups must be "diverse." And if it's a Christian group doing the discriminating, add flashing lights and sirens to the alarm bells. In today's Pope Center piece, I comment on the recently argued case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. Even if five members of the Court have swallowed the diversity kool-aid and eventually decide against CLS and its First Amendment arguments, that doesn't mean that universities have to go along with the diversity uber alles approach of Hastings Law School. College officials can and should recognize that there is nothing harmful in letting campus groups set their standards for membership.
California State University at Chico’s president, Paul Zingg, has just circulated a draft “diversity action plan for 2010-2015” titled To Form a More Inclusive Learning Community. He asks for feedback on the draft. NAS was happy to oblige:
Diversity came to have a precariously balanced double meaning. On one side, it evoked the genuine pleasure that Americans have in cultural variety and friendship. “Diversity” is the sweetness of knowing andliking people unlike yourself and discovering cultural variety. This aspect of diversity found its way into mainstream marketing and a thousand greeting cards, quilt displays, and children’s TV programs. But this sweet side of diversity was never far away from a distinctly harsher reality: diversity was also based on stoking group identity by evoking (real or imaginary) grievance. Diversity had its own hierarchy of grievances. The group with the best grievance story is African Americans, who took pride of place in any scheme for distributing the compensatory rewards of diversity. But the grievance game had and still has lots of players. The currency is having a narrative of how “my group” suffered at the hands of an intolerant and oppressive society. Even if, as was often the case, an individual suffered no oppression at all, mere identification with a supposedly oppressed group would suffice. Diversity in this second sense is a doctrine of group grievance, not a recognition of the particularities of individuals. The two sides of diversity were always in tension. The first allows for individuality; the second demands conformity to a group identity. One result was a whole industry of individuals explaining themselves in terms of group identity. We saw the birth of diversity memoirs, diversity novels, diversity painting, and so on—all aimed at bridging this unbridgeable gap. How do you make sweetness and bitterness co-resident in the same person?
Kudos to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for raising an issue that the higher education establishment would rather keep buried. The commission's latest inquiry involves suspected gender discrimination on campuses, where women are approaching 60 percent of the applicant pool. As this report indicates, women are “more plentiful” in college admissions, no matter that feminist activists have been carping for years about supposed discrimination against females. The question arises whether, bowing to "reverse" gender bias, campuses are now limiting the number of women they admit so as to increase the ranks of less meritorious men. Jennifer Rubin at Commentary remarks aptly on this ironic turn of events:
First, where are the Justice Department and so-called feminist groups? They apparently don’t much care if women are now on the short end of gender preferences. It’s all about “diversity,” you see. And second, one realizes how misplaced has been the hue and cry about anti-female discrimination in education. Apparently there is no civil-rights or other organization upset that men now make up only 40 percent of the college-admissions pool. Are they being discriminated against? Are their educational needs being ignored? We don’t know, and no one seems interested in finding out why.
The mania over "diversity" (that is, preferences for certain people whose ancestry puts them into an "underrepresented" category) has swept through most of American higher education. It's bad enough when, say, English departments fret that they aren't adequately "modeling diversity," but far more worrisome when medical schools do. In this Pope Center article today, I write about this disturbing phenomenon.
An anonymous reader commenting on the NAS.org article "National Security Threatened by Devotion to Diversity" recently reported:
The diversity doctrine not only harms the quality of higher education and, quite possibly, national security; it can also get in the way of campus crime prevention. The following incident illustrates just that. On Tuesday, November 10, a woman employee at my college answered a knock on her office door. Upon opening the door, she was immediately sexually assaulted. A violent struggle ensued between her and her attacker. Due to her screams, the assailant eventually fled the scene. The victim was taken to the hospital and treated for her injuries. She was able to give a competent description of the man who assaulted her. The crime, committed in broad daylight, was scary enough. However, what followed was even scarier. In the aftermath of the crime, campus police posted a sketch and a description of the suspect. The perpetrator was described as a "stocky, five-foot-five Hispanic male" who wore a white sleeveless T-shirt and black gloves. Students and employees were urged to be aware of their surroundings and to alert campus police of any suspicious individuals fitting the description. So far, so good. Then, within 24 hours of the incident, the campus police chief sent a warning via college e-mail, asking that everyone "refrain from engaging in profiling." According to the chief, the sketch had resulted in a number of calls that had "inordinately focused on race, rather than suspicious behavior." The college president also chimed in, cautioning the campus community to not "stereotype anyone on a visual basis," and a couple of well-known PC devotees on the faculty seconded the president's motion. It was truly laughable -- if it had not been so serious. Considering the possibility that descriptions of criminals by race, gender, color or ethnicity will soon be taboo -- and that estimates of a perpetrator's age, height and weight might also be viewed as politically incorrect -- I can easily envision the PC version of the crime that recently happened on my campus. It would sound something like this: "The victim was a person employed by the college. He/she described his/her attacker as another person. In an effort to avoid profiling, a sketch of the assailant will not be made public. What we can tell you is that the person wore a white sleeveless T-shirt and black gloves. However, we caution against any visual stereotyping, particularly of persons wearing white T-shirts and black gloves. We also urge everyone to focus on suspicious behavior, not on the person him/herself." Unfortunately, Army Chief of Staff George Casey does not have to worry about diversity becoming "a casualty." It looks like it is here to stay.
James Taranto has an excellent analysis of the controversy at NYU over Professor Tunku Varadarajan's column on the Fort Hood massacre. In "The 'Diversity' Sham," he notes NYU President John Sexton's timorous reply - "I found it offensive, too" - and points out the problem with 'diversity' in higher education:
This is how "diversity" works in practice: Intellectual contention is drowned out in a sea of emotion, much of it phony. Members of designated victim groups respond to a serious argument with "pain" and "shock" and accusations of "hate," and university administrators make a show of pretending to care.
Taranto's article comes at a good time, as hate studies is now somehow an academic discipline...
The NAS has long and wisely opposed the use of racial, ethnic, or other criteria unrelated to merit in (among other aspects of campus life) student recruitment and admissions. Those who support this view will find troubling the following requirement embedded in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 1,990-page health-care bill, which as I write she is trying to bring to a vote, and which fomer Lt. Governor of New York Betsy McCaughey, writing in The Wall Street Journal, has unearthed:
Secs. 2521 and 2533 (pp. 1379 and 1437) establishes racial and ethnic preferences in awarding grants for training nurses and creating secondary-school health science programs. For example, grants for nursing schools should "give preference to programs that provide for improving the diversity of new nurse graduates to reflect changes in the demographics of the patient population." And secondary-school grants should go to schools "graduating students from disadvantaged backgrounds including racial and ethnic minorities."
The academic community en masse should, but of course won't, reject such heavy-handed and unfair federal manipulation of student admissions in the name of diversity. This bill - among its other ill effects - will only add to division and lowered academic standards throughout our educational institutions.
A reader commenting on my post "Teaching Can Be Dangerous" wrote:
Speaking of politicization, I have a friend who is applying to a PhD program at Berkeley. He sent me the “personal history statement” that is required from all applicants: “Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access in higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.” This is apparently part of the general Berkeley graduate school application; i.e., it’s not just for political departments like social work. So if you want to be a graduate researcher on, say, the biology of sponges, you have to explain how your research focuses on underserved populations. (I suppose sponges don’t get nearly enough attention.) If this question isn’t a political loyalty oath I don’t know what would be. I hope NAS will look into this and see if it indeed is a required part of every Berkeley graduate application in every subject.
I did look up the Berkeley application for graduate admission, and the cited question is indeed part of the general app (see page 29). It is, as the commenter points out, a political litmus test, and it sounds very much like Virginia Tech's College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences requirement that faculty members prove their service to "diversity" as a condition for promotion and tenure. It's also interesting that the question is phrased in terms of "barriers to access in higher education," when the very question itself is posing a barrier to Berkeley admission for those who do not pledge their allegiance to political correctness.
In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Carey Stronach, president of the Virginia Association of Scholars, explains why the crusade for "diversity" by the administration at Virginia Tech is unacceptable to scholars. Academic promotion should no more depend on "diversity accomplishments" than on "religious accomplishments" or "chess accomplishments" or "gardening accomplishments." If the administrators can't see that by "privileging" (to use a favorite leftist term) the diversity mindset over everything else they're undermining real academic work, they should be summarily dismissed.
Most schools now compel students and personnel who desire to smoke to do so in designated outside areas, but that isn't enough for a group that wants a complete tobacco ban. Inside Higher Ed has the story. This ought to worry the "diversity" advocates. Smokers are a minority group with some distinct cultural traits. If colleges drive smokers away, as the proposed campus-wide bans would tend to do, won't that deprive other students of the opportunity to learn about them and benefit from the perspective they'd bring to class discussions involving personal freedom and trade-offs? Or do those concerns only apply to certain groups and not others?
Over at NAS.org I have an article, "The Dark Side of Diversity," about how the diversity movement punishes even its supporters. Melissa Hart, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, told how she got lost in the diversity craze when she went to college at UC-Santa Cruz. She wrote:
I saw that the Vietnamese students' stories of emigrating to the United States, and the African students' tales of colorful culture back home, caused our professor to sit up straight and stroke his goatee with pleasure, while my own stories of innocent girls enlightened by wise transients on the Mall in downtown Santa Cruz caused him to invoke lethal adjectives such as "sentimental" and "pathetic." Being white and straight, I felt doubly cursed with a dearth of fascinating material.
It seems that Hart would realize that her dreams of multicultural mingling weren’t coming true—and that it was the fault of multiculturalism itself. Yet she didn’t get it. Instead, she bought into the doctrine even further, believing that she was indeed ordinary and invisible.
In recent weeks, the USA Today and National Public Radio have crowed that this recession is different: most of those losing jobs were men (and predominantly white). This is "encouraging" according to these news outlets. Why is it good? Because a majority of the workforce is now made up of women; and blacks have not been hurt as much as whites (the media seem to have forgotten about Asians and Hispanics but what else is new?). This is an advance in gender, if not racial, diversity. Whooo. One wonders how those women married to unemployed men think about their gender's "advance." Is this recession different? We won't know until later but with "diversity accomplishments" now part of our academic job descriptions, there is reason to think that we may be evaluated accordingly when (or if) layoffs occur. After all, what better way to "diversify" the faculty than to adopt the slogan:
"First thing we do, fire all the white males!"
Employers are fearful of employment-related lawsuits and this is the first recession to seriously threaten academic jobs since 1982. The Diversity Machine has grown enormously since 1982, when it was only a glimmer in the eyes of campus social engineers. Today it is an industry that influences accreditation bodies, professional associations, and university practices (think of the money set aside for "diversity hires"). If universities can make diversity hires, why not make the same decision when firing people? Time to dust off your computer screen and search for labor relations law in your state. Those of us with unions ought to contact them too if the proverbial four-letter word "hits the fan."
Adam Kissel, director of FIRE's Individual Rights Defense Program, has an excellent op-ed in the Virginia Tech student newspaper Collegiate Times, arguing that "the university often crosses the line when it coerces faculty members to conform to the university's 'diversity' mission." Kissel is referring to a Virginia Tech policy which NAS exposed this spring, that requires faculty members to prove their commitment to "diversity" to keep their positions and for promotion. This policy is plainly political and geared toward weeding out faculty members that dissent from the politically correct norm. Kissel explains that "the Diversity Committee of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences has invested the term 'diversity' with a specific, ideological meaning that binds the academic freedom and conscience of faculty members." The Diversity Committee defines diversity as:
acknowledging and respecting that socially constructed differences based on certain characteristics exist within systems of power that create and sustain inequality, hierarchy, and privilege.
Because it has an ideological meaning, therefore, "involvement in diversity initiatives" does not belong in a university policy as a requirement for faculty promotion and tenure. Since uncovering the policy this spring, NAS and FIRE have gathered documentation, written letters to the university, and responded firmly to Virginia Tech's weak defenses of its litmus test. Kissel's op-ed invoking freedom of conscience is the newest of our efforts to urge Virginia Tech to revise its policy and allow professors to choose their own personal values.
This week the Chronicle of Higher Education has a special section on “Diversity in Academe.” One article featured there, “Diversity Takes a Hit During Tough Times,” (subscription required) examines how the economic downturn has forced colleges to evaluate their priorities. Colleges are asking, “Is a large diversity program really necessary for our institution?” Richard Vedder, of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, doesn’t think so:
Richard K. Vedder, an economist at Ohio University who also directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, says it has become "faddish" for universities to boast about their commitment to minority students by pointing to the size of their diversity offices. "The question is, at a university with 20,000 students, can you do the job with three to five people, or do you really need 25 to 35?" he asks. Mr. Vedder sees most diversity jobs as a bull-market luxury—and believes they should be scaled back, along with intercollegiate athletics, to protect core teaching and research operations during hard times.
Nevertheless, universities are scrambling to salvage their diversity departments, however superfluous, and one professor says this is a time of testing: “The next few years will show whether a university's commitment to diversity is real or whether it's something that is done just for the rhetoric.” Clearly this is the upside of the recession, giving colleges an opportunity to examine what’s really important in higher education – not race, identity groups, or political correctness brownie points, but simply, higher education. As the dean of St. Lawrence U puts it, “If you don't have the basic curriculum, and you don't have the faculty and you're not paying them, then all of the other programs in the world don't matter one bit.”
Jim Leach, the new chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, wants to correct Americans' "disrespectful" attitude towards Muslim culture by giving the NEH a new theme: "Bridging Cultures." He is also annoyed at culture warriors and excitable people at town halls. NEH seems next on the list of government agencies to be politicized. Peter Wood wrote about this in an NAS.org article, "Politicizing the NEH." An excerpt:
NEH Chairman Jim Leach, speaking at the Carnegie Corporation of New York on September 29, described his plan for the humanities to help change “the temper and the integrity of the political dialogue” in the United States in a manner that sends, “an implicit message to Muslims in our country and in other parts of the world that we deeply value the contributions of their diverse and fascinating cultures.” The speech, titled “Bridging Cultures: NEH and the Muslim World,” is posted on the NEH website. Leach’s remarks are surprising on several counts. In tone, they depart from NEH tradition, which has generally celebrated American cultural achievement rather than castigate Americans for their failings. In substance, his speech amounts to an indictment without any evidence. American culture is not awash in “disrespect” for Muslim cultural contributions. A case could be made for the exact opposite: schools, colleges, museums, and other cultural institutions have been going way out of their multicultural way to point out the glories of Muslim civilization for the last decade.
Power Line Blogs picked up on the story in "Jim Leach's Bridge to Nowhere."
Alana Goodman, a student at the University of Massachusetts, has published an excellent article, "Institutionalized Racism in Student Government," in the Collegian, the schoool's student newspaper. Here's an excerpt:
As we prepare to swear in our elected representatives to the SGA Senate next week, UMass students should be aware that 13 percent of our SGA Senators will not have even competed in Tuesday’s elections. Instead, they will be appointed to their positions before the election results even come in, solely on the basis of skin color. This portion of the Senate is appointed by a registered student organization (RSO) called the African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American (ALANA) Caucus (no relation to this columnist). Only minority students who fit one of those four racial categories– or other students who the Caucus approves as “minority allies”– are considered eligible for these Senate seats. [...] This practice has been going on for years, and in addition to its sleaziness it’s also illegal.
A reprint of the article in which NAS broke the story about Virginia Tech's diversity policy. This article was originally published March 17, 2009. Following its publication, we published a follow-up piece ("Suitable for Framing") and a three-part series on "Virginia Tech, Academic Freedom, and Employment Law."
Today NAS completes its serializing of Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity" by Larry Purdy. Purdy, one of the lawyers who represented Jennifer Gratz and Barbara Grutter in the U.S. Supreme Court cases Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, takes us inside an upside down house of racial preferences.
Our recent posting, "Residence Life and the Decline of Campus Community, Part 1," aimed to place Res Life programs within the wider context of the contemporary American college and university, and in particular to highlight the central role Res Life programs have been given in the creation of "campus community."
The ResLife program at the University of Delaware has received a great deal of well-deserved ridicule and opprobrium in recent weeks, but virtually all of the attention has been directed at the details of the radical views on race it promulgated. Little or no attention has been given to placing these details within the larger context of the concept of "education" that inspired and drove the program. This is unfortunate, because understanding the wider context of the ResLife program at Delaware is as important as the details.
Hans Bader, a lawyer with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes that the Delaware Indoctrination Syndrome has a k-12 counterpart. A common thread is the presence of what Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn in her 2001 book dubbed "race experts." In Delaware, it was Shakti Butler. As Mr. Bader points out, another expert, Glenn Singleton, is making a career of promoting similar themes in K-12 public schools. See Mr. Bader's postings at www.openmarket.org, e.g., November 16, 20, and 27, and December 3.
Hans Bader, a lawyer with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes that the Delaware Indoctrination Syndrome has a k-12 counterpart. A common thread is the presence of what Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn in her 2001 book dubbed "race experts." In Delaware, it was Shakti Butler. As Mr. Bader points out, another expert, Glenn Singleton, is making a career of promoting similar themes in K-12 public schools. See Mr. Bader's postings at www.openmarket.org, e.g., November 16, 20, and 27, and December 3.
The recent nationwide media exposure of the diversity facilitation training program of residence assistants at the University of Delaware demonstrates what a couple of professors -- in this case, professors Linda Gottfredson and Jan Blits, two NAS members who teach there -- and a relatively small group of activists can accomplish in revealing the extent to which political correctness and toxic racial ideology have infested some of today's campuses.
It seems that you had better be very very careful of what you say and to whom you say it at the College of William and Mary, where the administration has recently instituted a new "Bias Reporting Team," complete with its own web page. Among the features of this newest academic venture in promoting "tolerance," "diversity," and "respect" on campus is an Orwellian system of anonymous accusation and secret investigations, the maintenance of elaborate data bases, and an extensive administrative mechanism, in which the college president will be directly involved. Although "Bias" is very briefly and vaguely defined, there is an exhaustive elaboration of the ways in which it can be reported to the "Bias Team." Anyone uncertain as to whether an incident constitutes "bias" is strongly encouraged to inform the "team," which will then determine if it's the real thing. The "bias" web page doesn't seem to provide for instances of fraudulent, frivolous, or malicious allegations, and the rights of anyone accused aren't elaborated either. Although a small disclaimer declares, "William and Mary values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas," we aren't at all reassured.
The United States Commission on Civil Rights has just issued a major report, The Benefits of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Elementary and Secondary Education. (Available in PDF here.) The Commission reached a startling conclusion: "there is little evidence that racial and ethnic diversity in elementary and secondary schools results in significant improvement in academic performance."
Caroline Mojonnier, a student at Syracuse University, was moved by the NAS report to pursue some investigative journalism. She attended a session of SWK 326, "Persons in Social Contexts," a course in Syracuse University's School of Social Work, and spoke to the instructor afterwards. Her account in the student paper, The Daily Orange, - along with desipient comments by umbrage-taking classmates - can be read here.
University social work programs rarely attract outside attention. They subsist deep down in the bowels of their host institutions, generating a decent cash flow but little in the way of intellectual excitement. They do, however, have one dubious distinction. Like no other academic program, they are politicized throughout their warp and woof. Sociology, anthropology, even education could, if fully liberated from tendentiousness, still survive as fields. It’s questionable whether this is true of social work. Launched in the spirit of progressivism, its doxology has by now absorbed almost every mental reflex of the left.