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March 12, 2007

Academia’s Passion for Superficial Diversity


Every year, higher academia becomes increasingly riddled with problems pertaining to political imbalance, ideological extremes and sometimes outright ludicrousness. In recent months and years we have heard about a decades-old cross being removed from a Christian chapel at William and Mary, about Harvard’s former president being savagely assaulted by his community for daring to speak up on innate differences between men and women and about the vast collection of university professors all around the country who hold outrageous, often borderline treasonous, views of their own country – the United States.


These events are neither random nor coincidental. They are part of higher academia’s seemingly unstoppable move into an era of supposed progressivism that highlights political correctness as, for all intents and purposes, a religion. Such political correctness has infiltrated every part of the American campus, with the rare holdouts being the oftentimes vastly outnumbered conservative student groups and the occasional fraternity.


One of the major ways in which this political correctness is being expressed is through obsessive focus on diversity. We’re not talking about diversity of thought or experience here – diversity to the new campus elite signifies differences in gender, skin color and sexual orientation. No college brochure is sent to high school students these days unless it has a prominent picture showing a backpack-donning black female talking to an Asian male, with a Hispanic student and Native American homosexual high-fiving each other in the background. This form of diversity is considered an asset, and is sold as such, by university administrators all around the country.


The National Association of Scholars has released a study of university websites that demonstrates academia’s astonishing passion for superficial diversity. The study found that on the websites of the top 100 schools in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, references to diversity far exceed references to the time-honored concepts of American freedom, liberty, equality and democracy. This emphasis on diversity is unique to universities, as all other institutions (such as political parties, religious institutions, television and even labor unions) continue to lean heavily toward the traditional American ideals and away from the progressive obsession with diversity.


Upon hearing of this study, I decided to track the website of Cornell University, my alma mater. Most prominent on the website is a big picture that changes at every visit of the site, usually showing one or a handful of students participating in some form of activity. As expected, the website’s presentation of the student body was a gross misrepresentation of the school’s demographics. On one of my visits to the site, the pictures showed a total of eight students, all minorities, with seven of them being women. For reference purposes, Cornell is split down the middle gender-wise, with blacks making up five percent of the student population.


This was no coincidence. Every other visit to the site showed carefully calculated misrepresentations of the nature of the student body. These shallow forms of diversity, particularly the diversity of skin color, are what Cornell wanted to the world to see. The fact that the administration goes out of its way to minimize the spotlight on white males and highlight the presence of blacks and females shows neither considerate behavior nor good public relations skills. It is nothing but a demonstration of the school’s insecurities, and the administration’s attempt to prove to the world that is not racist, over and over again.


There are many forms of diversity that are both lacking on America’s campuses and that simultaneously supersede skin color and gender in importance. Ideological and intellectual diversity is by definition an integral part of growing and learning. A student will learn much more about the world if his thoughts are challenged and if he is compelled to effectively defend his views. This same student will learn much less from a racially diverse faculty and student body who all see the world in the exact same way. Yet the political elite with the decision-making power in American universities is willing to overlook these facts for the sake of the immediate pleasure of self-righteousness. So much for diversity of thought.


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