Most preferentialists believe that all institutions, including elite academic institutions, should reflect the racial and ethnic composition of American (but why stop at mere national borders?) society.
A recent post on California Patriot, however, reveals Berkeley’s new chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, to be not only a preferentialist but a progressive preferentialist: he thinks the University of California at Berkeley should not mirror California society as it is but as it will be.
So the population we need to be comparing our undergraduate body now, is not today’s population but the population 20 years from now. And if you just look at demography, and you see how California’s population will change inevitably. And you look at our current student body, especially the URM/so called minorities, which are then going to be in the majority by 2025, we have an extraordinarily small number of people from groups that are going to constitute the majority of the California population in 2025. So we’re not educating, here, significant numbers of people who will be the leaders of California as its going to be in 2025.
Perhaps Berkeley’s Birgeneau is so sensitive to this issue because of his own inner essence. When he was at the University of Toronto he offended some parents of black students by stating that “White students too often choose to go to other universities because we are so diverse.” (Quoted in another post on California Patriot) Ignoring the sage advice — When you’re in a hole, stop digging — he attempted to apologize by stating that “My black friends tell me that I look like you on the inside, just not on the outside.”
Hmm. If Birgeneau were applying to Berkeley, I wonder which racial/ethnic box he would check? Surely not the one that reflected merely his superficial, external appearance.