The Washington Post has a fascinating article on the alienation and anger that is rife among minority students at the University of Michigan that is very revealing, including some ways even intended by the reporter, Darryl Fears.
One of my broken-record arguments here is that the real beneficiaries of “diversity” are the majority students who are thereby exposed to those who are “different” from themselves, since the preferred minorities would reap the benefits of diversity, such as they are, at the less selective institutions they would otherwise have attended. (For the record, I have made that argument here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Recently, I have argued (here) — this argument is a candidate to become a new broken record — that if double standards to admit more minorities are justified because they are “different,” then inevitably, and predictably, “majority” students will come to regard minority students as … different. And why shouldn’t they, if exuding “difference” is the stated reason the preferred minorities are there?
Both of these phenomena are amply demonstrated in Fears’ article. “Michigan’s racial demographics are not remarkably different from those of other major state universities,” Fears recognizes, “but the schoolyard debate over how minority applicants are admitted has magnified every perceived white insult, and the hurt and anger that result.”
Listen to a small sample of the frustration:
Monique Perry, a 20-year-old junior, said white students asked her to make them copies of rap CDs. “I’ve never owned a rap CD in my life,” said Perry, who was raised in Detroit and was a top student at the city’s elite Cass Technical High School.
[Marisa Darden a 19-year old sophomore] said that at her dorm, a white student asked, “How do you wash your hair? …. One of the reasons I chose to come to UM is their boastful reputation on diversity. But I have to make a choice between socializing with black people or socializing with white people, because this campus is extremely segregated.”
These comments clearly reveal a totally understandable resentment at being regarded as “different.” The cry for “diversity” has become such an unquestioned mantra that I suspect these students themselves don’t recognize that what they really yearn for is to be treated as individuals.
Certainly neither Fears nor the Michigan administration recognize the degree to which “diversity” has produced the dissatisfaction. As Fears uncomprehendingly comments,
Despite those complaints, Michigan is quite diverse compared with the nation’s elite public universities. At the University of California at Berkeley, underrepresented minorities make up only 15 percent of undergraduates; at Michigan, the proportion is 25 percent. Still, school officials in Ann Arbor say they are seeking a more diverse campus.
“One of the reasons why we’re defending our affirmative action policy so strongly is that we’re not there yet,” said Julie Peterson, a University of Michigan spokeswoman. The school has programs designed to bring students together, Peterson said, “because it’s not enough to just have people here. You have to do the work.”
These folks remind me of the fabled sandblower: someone whose solution to finding himself standing in a hole is to dig it deeper and deeper. Or perhaps the equally fabled widget producer of Economics 101 who lost money on every sale but tried to make it up in volume. More “diversity” is about as likely to soothe these seething resentments as a barefoot hike in the snow is to cure a problem with cold feet.
Fears’ article also reveals, unintentionally, the pervasiveness of the assumption that race is everything. He speaks, for example, of a “white-run independent student newspaper”; he points out that 75% of Michigan’s students are white “and they control campus life from the student government to the pep squad.” Do the student journalists, politicos, and cheerleaders think of themselves as “white”? Should they? Could one say that the students at Michigan are 75% (85%? 65%?) Christian?
If the only tool you have is a hammer (race), the whole world looks like a nail (black and white). If you want people to feel different, announce constantly that they are different, and treat them that way, i.e., preach and practice “diversity.”
UPDATE – According to Howard Bashman, John Payton opened his argument before the Supreme Court defending the University of Michigan’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions “by maintaining that enough minorities must be present on campus to make them all feel comfortable being there.”
If that is the purpose, Fears’ article suggests it has been an abject failure.