Dec 31 2009

Diversity as Farce

Category: diversity,education,higher education,universityharmonicminer @ 9:23 am

Virginia Tech is strongly committed to diversity.   It is not “academics honoring diversity” precisely because VTech has place diversity on the very top rung of values, below which all other values must fall, whatever protestations of academic ambition may by made.

Virginia Tech Reasserts ‘Diversity’ Folly

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University—better known as Virginia Tech—is in the midst of an extraordinary campaign to impose a comprehensive regime focusedon “diversity.” Reading through Virginia Tech’s official documents since March is something like watching a colonial power laying out a plan to force its language, culture, laws, religion, and ideals on a subject people. The put-upon natives in this case are, first of all, the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. But the imperial power, of course, doesn’t mean to stop with subordinating the faculty chiefs to the Empire. The rule of Diversity must ultimately extend to every student and every employee.

Diversity? It must surely strike most readers that the ideological campaign for diversity on campus is by this point rather old-fashioned. Diversity as a rallying cry for the campus left took its initial impulse from Justice Lewis Powell’s opinion in the Supreme Court’s decision in the 1978 case, Bakke v. The Regents of the University of California. Powell’s remarks weren’t supported by any other justice and did not have the force of law, but they nonetheless suggested a rationale for using racial preferences in college admissions. A racially diverse college classroom, in Powell’s opinion, was bound to be a more pedagogically enriching one, since it stood to reason that people of different races would learn from each other.

We draw attention to this university once again, however, not as a case study in vapid strategizing. Rather, it serves as a bookend to the whole diversity movement. Marx’s famous remark that great events and personalities in world history repeat themselves, “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce,” seems apt. Virginia Tech, a large regional university known more for its football program and a series of horrific killings, has chosen to play out a spent ideology to its final dregs. That it is does so in the delusion that it is somehow on the cutting edge of academic innovation is what makes this farce.

Farces are not without their victims. Virginia Tech is an institution of modest academic standing that seems intent on winning a certain kind of race to the bottom. Faculty members there have privately reassured us that the administrators aren’t as crazy as they sound. They are just playing the cards that they think they need to. It’s an excuse I don’t buy. The administrators have wrapped themselves in such fervent diversity rhetoric that we have to take them at their word. They may have started off as cynical players, but they are now totally invested in this folly and are surrounded with minions who are clearly true believers.

So the Virginia Tech story does seem worth yet another look. A large state university is spiraling downward into an anti-intellectual orthodoxy, and as it plummets it is busy praising its ability to take flight.

This is the beginning and ending of an article that is well worth reading in its entirety, if you want to understand the origins of the modern diversity movement.