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.