Diversity and Equal Respect (Or Not) I

Today the New York Times has another long hymn singing the praises of diversity, Colleges Find Diversity Is Not Just Numbers.”

It is tempting to treat this article as an unintentional parody. For example:

Decades after colleges and universities across the country began actively recruiting minority students, many campuses are more diverse than ever. But that does not mean that students connect across racial and ethnic lines.


By the 1980’s, colleges had begun establishing diversity deans, ethnic studies courses and ethnic and racial affinity houses to help minority students feel more at home on campus.

The idea behind affinity houses — separate residences for different racial and ethnic groups — was that minorities needed places where they could learn about their cultures and relax and feel comfortable on campus.

In other words, students imported to diversify campuses were assisted in segregating themselves so that they could learn about the cultures that they were admitted in large part to represent.

Now, according to the article, institutions are spending millions of dollars on diversity programs, not simply to improve race relations “but also to create a new category of graduate — one they describe as culturally versatile, or culturally competent.”

Some of these efforts at racial consciousness raising smack of thought control. The president of Occidental College is quoted as saying

“It is our job as educators to construct conscious communities in which students and others spend time, work and play with people unlike themselves — ethnically, ideologically, politically.”

Dartmouth offers “diversity training” to all students and faculty, but “it is mandatory for all nonfaculty staff members, from administrators to groundskeepers.” This training includes workshops in which the participants “are asked to think of Dartmouth in terms of classism, racism and sexism, and then to make recommendations for improvements.”

According to the NYT, Dartmouth has witnessed impressive progress.

Just two months into the new school year, there are already signs that boundaries are being crossed. This fall the women at Kappa Kappa Gamma, a predominantly white sorority, have invited the men of Alpha Phi Alpha, a historically black fraternity, to dinner. And Alpha Phi Alpha is trying to encourage whites to join.

Well, whoop de doo! Look who’s coming to dinner! As I said, it’s tempting to treat the article as a parody. But for one issue it raises that is worth taking seriously, please see my next post.

Say What? (7)

  1. Dom November 12, 2002 at 9:45 am | | Reply

    “It is our job as educators to construct conscious communities in which students and others spend time, work and play with people unlike themselves

  2. John Rosenberg November 12, 2002 at 10:17 am | | Reply

    Dom’s point is certainly true. One reason I did not mention that the diversity sought on campus virtually always means only racial/ethnic diversity is that I have come down hard on that point so often here that I begin to feel uncomfortable repeating myself. But truth be told, I enjoy the opportunity to do that, so let me agree with Dom and say once again that the advocates of diversity would have a stronger argument if their programs actually implemented diversity. Of course to do that, they would have take ideology and religion into account and some might object to that….

  3. Scott November 20, 2002 at 8:15 pm | | Reply

    It seems that every yeat or two, there is a major initiative in most businesses and educational institutions. Lately, it appears that diversity is the new focal point. I work for a large institution and have recently formed a diversity council to help promote diversity in the workplace. The more I read about the subject and observe team members reactions and comments on the subject, the more I realize that people just don’t get it. Diversity is not about labels such as your race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliations, gender, etc. It is not about acquiring people in your groups that have different labels. That in itself does not make you diverse. It makes you different! It is about individual’s actions and how they react to and accept people with similar and different labels. That defines your level of diversity. I recently attended a diversity conference that was also attended by some of the most progressive proponents of diversity in the company. Although they had some really great initiatives and programs supporting diversity and at face value they appeared diverse, the comments that were made by some of them were offensive and showed me that there is still a lot of misconceptions about what diversity means. Diversity is not a destination, it is a journey. The more open-minded people are to the subject and realize that diversity is not superficial, but intellectual, the further they will travel on the journey.

  4. Diversity and Equal Respect (Or Not) II December 4, 2011 at 2:30 am |

    […] have seen or will see, I found it hard to take the New York Times article on diversity discussed in my last post very seriously. (If you haven’t read it, please read that post before continuing here.) But […]

  5. A Princeton “Diversity” Parody December 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm |

    […] not, believe it or not, unique. The same view was expressed in a New York Times article (discussed here) that noted, apparently without irony, that “many campuses are more diverse than ever…. […]

  6. […] believe it or not, unique. The same view was expressed in a New York Times article (discussed here) that noted, apparently without irony, that “many campuses are more diverse than ever…. […]

  7. Still More “Wise Latina” Drivel January 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm |

    […] Note the rich irony (or unintentional humor) of Sotomayor becoming a committed Latina only after her arrival at Princeton, where as a “diversity” admit she was admitted at least in part so that other Princeton students could learn from exposure to her different culture. As Roger Clegg and I wrote in “Against Diversity” (and I had earlier written similarly here): […]

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