Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jul/11

17

It’s always a bull market in the diversity industry

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The University of California is facing sharp budget cuts–except in one area of its sprawling bureaucracy: the diversity apparatus, as I write about here:

 Even as UC campuses jettison entire degree programs and lose faculty to competing universities, one fiefdom has remained virtually sacrosanct: the diversity machine.

Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing. The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

It cannot be said often enough:  There has never been a more welcoming, tolerant, supportive, equal-opportunity environment in the history of man than the modern American university.  This is an institution so eager to welcome as many minority students to its ranks as possible that it radically lowers its admissions standards to do so.  The modern university is staffed with the most liberal members of our society, people who believe that the rest of America continues to oppress blacks, Hispanics, and women, and that the university’s special mission is therefore to provide a harbor from the racism of the outside world. 

 

And yet the standard rhetoric of the campus diversity industry is that the university itself is not a “safe” space for officially designated victim groups, and thus that special havens of race-consciousness are needed to protect these victims from some always unspecified danger.  It is not just the directors of the Women’s Centers and the Afro-Am Centers who indulge in this melodramatic rhetoric of “safety” and danger; it is the top leaders of campuses, such as outgoing chancellor of the University of California, San Diego, Marye Anne Fox, who oozed last year in a university-wide letter entitled “Collaboration Ensures a Safe and Inclusive Campus:”

 

we are resolute in our determination to ensure a safe and just environment in which everyone may live, work, learn and flourish.

 

Name some names, Chancellor Fox.  Who is denying “safety and justice” to everyone on your campus?  Given the difficulty of identifying the exact locus of these looming threats, it becomes imperative to treat any trivial incident of juvenile rebellion against political correctness as the equivalent of an organized lynch mob. 

 

“At UC San Diego, this is an issue of safety for students,” [said a member of the UC San Diego Black Student Union at a UC Regents meeting last year]. “The campus climate cultivated this toxic environment.”

 

The fact is this: to the extent that minority students feel “unsafe”–i.e., uncomfortable or out of place–on an American campus today–it is the direct result of affirmative action policies that admit them with academic qualifications far below their white and Asian peers.  If every black or Hispanic student were confident that he could compete with his classmates on the organic chemistry exam, we woudln’t be hearing about “unsafe campus climates.”  

 

But when university administrators play into those feelings of inadequacy (feelings that result from the very double standards that they insist on) by affirming the notion that universities are hostile or dangerous places, they are unfitting the purported beneficiaries of their noblesse oblige for full participation in the real world.  By teaching students to regard the most cushy, protected environment known to man as a hostile, unsafe climate, they are insuring that they will go through life with a distorted view of reality.

15 comments

  • Matt Foss · July 18, 2011 at 1:56 am

    “If every black or Hispanic student were confident that he could compete with his classmates on the organic chemistry exam, we wouldn’t be hearing about ‘unsafe campus climates.’”

    I’m curious: on what data are you basing this claim? During my college years I never saw any evidence that the typical “minority” student was any dumber than the typical white male student. Where is the flood of intelligent young Caucasian men denied entrance into college because their places were filled by someone with darker skin? They certainly didn’t apply to any college I’ve ever attended, if affirmative action is as unjust as you imply.

  • Clark · July 18, 2011 at 3:01 am

    I’d second this. While I’m sympathetic to the claim that the approach to diversity by some is ascerbating or even creating problems I’m really skeptical people feel out of place due to being less qualified for school.

  • John · July 18, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Schools with affirmative action typically have to dip roughly one standard deviation down to get enough black and hispanic students to fill their unspoken quotas. Colleges won’t release data about grades by race (I wonder why?), but there are large differences in dropout rates, as well as large differences in the percentages of people of different races in different majors; white and asian students are more likely to major in harder subjects.

  • Matt Foss · July 18, 2011 at 4:42 am

    John,

    Again, where are the poor smart white kids who can’t get into a good college because of it? If schools are lowering their standards, is it for racial diversity alone or for boosting the number of tuition-paying students in general?

    Finally, do you think racial differences in major choice are due to some inherent superiority of whites and Asians in those areas? Have you considered that there might be more positive social reinforcement (peers, parents, etc.) for whites and Asians to become engineers (for example) and a general lack thereof for blacks and Hispanics? That maybe the more black and Hispanic engineers there are out there, the more black and Hispanic students will take a serious interest in the profession?

    Heather is right to call out people who dishonestly insinuate that there’s rampant, deliberate racism at work keeping minorities down in academia, but to imply that affirmative action does nothing more than artificially lifting feeble-minded dark-skinned brutes into positions that should belong to whites and Asians? That’s equally absurd.

  • B.B. · July 18, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I’m curious: on what data are you basing this claim? During my college years I never saw any evidence that the typical “minority” student was any dumber than the typical white male student.

    See Richard H. Sander’s Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools. One of the most instructive tables is on page 61. Over half of black students at elite law schools had a GPA in the bottom decile.

    Again, where are the poor smart white kids who can’t get into a good college because of it? If schools are lowering their standards, is it for racial diversity alone or for boosting the number of tuition-paying students in general?

    See Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford’s research into affirmative action and college admissions. Not only does being lower class confer no benefits for college admission if you are white, if you have engaged in career-orientated extra-curricular activities that are indicative of a rural red-state background (participation the ROTC, 4-H clubs, Future Farmers of America, etc.), you are significantly disadvantaged in college admissions.

    Finally, do you think racial differences in major choice are due to some inherent superiority of whites and Asians in those areas? Have you considered that there might be more positive social reinforcement (peers, parents, etc.) for whites and Asians to become engineers (for example) and a general lack thereof for blacks and Hispanics?

    Parents have little to do with it, as blacks adopted into white middle/upper-class college educated families don’t do much better than the average black person on IQ tests. Asians likewise, still outscore whites even when adopted into white homes.

    See: Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability by J.P Rushton & Arthur Jensen

  • B.B. · July 18, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Parents have little to do with it

    Correction: By that I meant parental socialization. Your biological parents genes are still very important.

  • RandyB · July 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

    This is, of course, one example of the secular “theodicy” problem — how to reconcile performance and accomplishment disparities with the dogma that all demographics are equally intellectually endowed.

    Universities, and to varying extents large employers, have implemented what we might now call the Sotomayor doctrine — the belief that living the life of a minority group member constitutes a form of education that is unavailable to the majority. To some extent this is true; there is a school of hard knocks from which lifelong members of advantaged environments are immune. However, traditional academia has approached this problem by re-norming the very concept of “intelligence” to include minority’s perception of how the world works (against them). In effect, a white/Asian needs an IQ of 120 to accept what a traditionally disadvantaged minority accepts at 90, be re-defining the latter as intelligence.

  • Polichinello · July 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Again, where are the poor smart white kids who can’t get into a good college because of it?

    A lot of them chose the route I did: they joined the service and went to school later. Others probably got pushed down one level; that is, instead of a private university, they went to a top-level state university, and the whites and Asians displaced there went to second tier state school, and so on.

    Have you considered that there might be more positive social reinforcement (peers, parents, etc.) for whites and Asians to become engineers (for example) and a general lack thereof for blacks and Hispanics?

    There certainly is no lack of university programs to foster NAM engineers, as well as female engineers. When I went to school, there were numerous scholarships on offer to disadvantaged minorities. These are doing very little, if anything, to overcome the barrier you imagine…and I say “imagine” deliberately, as I grew up in South Texas, and there was every incentive to become an engineer for Hispanics there. Engineers there are almost as valued as doctors.

  • Matt Foss · July 18, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Fair assessment, Polichinello. I just think that there are factors at work here other than the racially-aligned variation that the right seems to suggest and the deliberate institutional racism that the left seems to suggest.

    RandyB: I see your point, though my faith in IQ tests as an objective measure of intelligence is far from absolute.

    It’s not that I subscribe to some “religious” belief that intelligence is 100% equal across all demographics. Rather, I think that intelligent individuals can be found within many ethnic groups, and that naive “colorblind” policies will inherently fail to cultivate some of those from traditionally disadvantaged ethnic groups.

    Conversely, universities treating these individuals as “diversity” tokens devalues their intelligence as well.

    I don’t claim to have a solution to the problem of bloated diversity machines within university bureaucracies, but I’m also wary of the attitude that women and racial minorities don’t belong in academia.

  • Narr · July 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Matt at 9:19:

    Please point me to an example of someone here displaying, or linking to someone displaying, the attitude that “women and racial minorities don’t belong in academia.”

  • B.B. · July 18, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    my faith in IQ tests as an objective measure of intelligence is far from absolute.

    Why? g-loaded IQ tests are one of the best predictors of both occupational attainment and job performance available.

    btw mod(s), it appears my first comment is still awaiting approval.

  • B.B. · July 18, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    It’s not that I subscribe to some “religious” belief that intelligence is 100% equal across all demographics. Rather, I think that intelligent individuals can be found within many ethnic groups, and that naive “colorblind” policies will inherently fail to cultivate some of those from traditionally disadvantaged ethnic groups.

    The thing is we have not been following a color-blind policy, but instead systematic favoritism for under-performing groups, which has ultimately led to the under-utilization of skills amongst the white population, and the promotion of less qualified blacks in their place. This has been established by numerous studies into racial differences in job performance, where a consistent deficit has been found amongst blacks.

    Now this difference in job performance wouldn’t merely exist by the fact that blacks are less skilled alone. In a meritocratic society, blacks would merely be more highly represented in low-skilled jobs and unemployment (moreso than they are now), and conversely whites would have even lower levels of unemployment than they currently do.

    See: Ethnic Group Differences in Measures of Job Performance: A New Meta-Analysis by Philip L. Roth & Allen I. Huffcutt

  • Matt Foss · July 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    @Narr:

    None have done so regarding women – I was speaking on general terms. Regarding racial minorities, see any of B.B.’s comments, plus the OP’s statement that blacks/Hispanics only feel uncomfortable/out of place on campus because they aren’t qualified to compete with their white/Asian peers. I don’t think either of them are necessarily advocating deliberate segregation, but I inferred from their words the attitude that blacks/Hispanics generally lack the brainpower to learn alongside whites/Asians.

    We might well have a higher tendency toward intelligence within our ethnic group (I’m not blind to the possibility that intelligence was disproportionately selected for in European populations), and a meritocracy adopted today would place us squarely on top in nearly every white-collar profession. I just don’t feel that there’s strong enough evidence to say for certain that it’s purely genetic/biological. We’re talking about fellow human beings here, and I don’t like the implications of that line of thinking (eugenics, anyone?).

    Perhaps I’m being altruistic in the sentiment that we should not resign entire ethnic groups to cyclical unemployment (in other words, dependence on the state) and unskilled labor based solely on present data that suggests that our own ethnic group tends to be more productive. The cycle of unemployment in the black/Hispanic populations consumes a great deal of our entitlement spending, and if making concessions to give more of them access to higher education can help alleviate that then I’m all for it.

    At any rate, I don’t have anything further to say on this topic. I thank you all for responding to the substance of my comments and not resorting to ad-hominems (I likely wouldn’t have been able to say the same were I to play devil’s advocate on a liberal blog). Moving on now.

  • Narr · July 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Matt at 3:50:

    I will leave B.B. and others to clarify exactly what they meant by their comments, but FWIW I don’t interpret them the way you do. A conservative critique of AA as I understand it is that it can create a mismatch between minority students and the schools that accept them. I.e., a student who could be perfectly happy and do good work at either of my alma maters (state schools in the South, and by no means the best supported or most distinguished) find themselves in more rigorous programs at more prestigious schools than they have been prepared for.
    (I did OK, even better than OK, but I’m sure I would have dropped out of a Vandy or Duke in the remote chance that I could have made it into either. And not that it even occured to me to apply to either.)

    It’s not a matter of minority students not deserving an education or being unfit for it–it’s a matter of “fit” in whatever institution accepts them.

    That’s the argument anyway. Take care.

  • One Radical · July 22, 2011 at 3:28 am

    Of course. The monetary cost of propagating the virtue of diversity is worth every penny. It’s better to be bankrupt than to have too many whites in any given entity.

    Note: yes, this was sarcasm. First time commenting here…

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