Martin Center column challenges case for diversity

Charles Geshekter writes for the Martin Center about what he labels a “lame” case for diversity.

Abigail Stewart and Virginia Valian are senior psychologists at the University of Michigan and Hunter College, respectively. As an opponent of group preferences and double standards to achieve diversity among university faculty, I read their book, An Inclusive Academy, hoping to learn something from people with whom I disagreed.

This study confirms the tenacity of diversity activists and bureaucrats whose “numbers game” continues to embroil universities. For any contemporary campus, the authors find so much diversity to consider to achieve genuine inclusivity—“race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, rank, ability status, age, dependent care demands, partner status, health, and more.” Even more?

Since the late 1960s, what began as equitable outreach programs (or affirmative action) hardened into demands for equality of outcomes. By the 1990s, diversity had become synonymous with racial or ethnic preferences. It referred to a growing list of groups that a burgeoning administrative elite identifies as deserving special treatment. As defenders of diversity, Stewart and Valian want universities to use race-conscious profiling as a way to fight racism. By permitting preferences in order to combat discrimination, their illiberal justifications undermine the norms of academic focus, disregard disciplinary specialization, encourage mediocrity, and foster cynicism.

Diversity advocates insist race, gender, and ethnicity quotients are an accurate measure of excellence and equity in any field of study. Yet, the authors complain, “When people are treated as members of a group, rather than as valued individual colleagues, the climate feels ‘chilly.’”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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