Some Heretical Thoughts on “Diversity”
That I feel compelled to submit this opinion anonymously for fear of institutional reprisal bespeaks the dangerous and increasingly volatile situation confronting Marquette and higher education in general. I applaud Marquette’s efforts to raise consciousness and promote civic responsibility in its students and administrators, but was slightly troubled at the new university-wide hiring initiative reported in last Tuesday’s Tribune. It is encouraging that material steps are being taken to address diversity and meet what are hopefully specified ends.
However, such a policy is illustrative of a wider cultural ideology that has permeated the university, and which threatens one of America’s most fundamental freedoms, that of thought. Dubbed the “left university,” by James Piereson, it is one that is steeped in the politics of the 1960’s, a period in which many current faculty and administrators developed their sense of Western injustice and oppression, and began to illuminate those suffering under the weight of that oppression. But the problem is not a question of redress, but rather one of efficacy. All too often, blind support is offered for social programs that have no empirical basis for implementation. In other words, they don’t work.
The left university has cultivated an atmosphere in which past performance is disregarded in favor of good intentions. As it stands, Auburn University, from whence Keenan Grenell, our new Provost for Diversity comes, is still 87% white and 7% black, according to the Princeton Review. Marquette, for those keeping score, is albeit still lopsided, but 85% white. Perhaps if we regress 2%, Dr. Grenell will be able to move on to greener, or in this case, whiter pastures.
Though well-intentioned, this program and its admissions counterparts, actually obliterate diversity of thought, devalue individual accomplishment, and only serve to employ another form of discrimination. This program and others like it provide short-term solutions, emphasizing not education of the student, but the color of that student’s skin. Such brazen condescension and intellectual arrogance only serve to heighten sensitivity to one’s outer self-image, and overshadow each person’s merit and worth as an individual. The divisive nature of this theoretical idealism only serves to widen the cultural and racial gap while at the same time breeding resentment and animosity. Thus the university becomes defined by percentages, and not by the character of its students and faculty.
This has created a culture of fear and intimidation, one that suppresses any opposition to a decidedly leftist ideology, and one that has very disturbingly infused the classroom. One needs to look no further than the School of Education, where students will now find in the curriculum the intellectually engaging and topically relevant think piece, “An Open Letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush.” Students reared in this setting will find a comfortable, feel-good environment where rationalizations abound, and where things that go wrong can always be imputed to institutional or societal failure.
MU is renowned for its community outreach and service programs, and listed as one of the nation’s “colleges with a conscience.” But our preoccupation with cosmetic enhancements stands in the way of overall university growth, development, and progress. Marquette needs to combat more than just its self-perception of being defined by a visually monolithic student body and seek solutions that encourage, not suppress, the return of dialogue and a diversity of thought.