by Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne
Administrative careers based on recycling this old fad, unfortunately, have real consequences. They end up diverting large amounts of time and money to a pursuit that is at best academically irrelevant and more often destructive. “Diversity” is a doctrine that virtually never delivers what it promises. It promises an intellectually enlivened campus; it promises mutual respect among identity groups; it promises open-mindedness; it promises an abiding spirit of fairness. But it delivers dull and sometimes fearful conformity. It restricts the topics people can discuss. It fosters low-level resentment, self-doubt, and a victim-mindset. It erodes self-confidence and breeds a testy defensiveness among both its supposed beneficiaries and its advocates. It lowers academic standards from the admissions office to the classroom. And it makes the American college campus synonymous with a hypocritical unfairness: an unfairness sensed by nearly everyone, but that few dare to articulate.
What to do when your own career is inexorably tied to promoting an ideology that sounds nice in the abstract but that has proven over three decades of implementation not to work as advertised? Their all-too-typical answer is to blame the faculty and to blame the students for their lamentable lack of zeal in embracing the beautiful ideals of diversity. If only we could get the faculty to really really really embrace diversity, it would work. It would have to! If these diversiphiles sometimes sound like disappointed cultists who can’t figure out why the flying saucer didn’t arrive on schedule, well. . . .
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