17 Jul 2022

What Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Wrought

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Any faculty member who fails to award special status to representatives of “Diversity” will probably, like Nicholas Christakis, then Master of Yale’s Silliman College, wind up being hounded out of his job.

Robert Weissberg describes how good intentions and compassion, over time, destroyed academic standards and created an entitled class of tyrants.

[W]hat changed in my department of political science was obvious: more bureaucratic paperwork, additional departmental offerings on race and ethnicity, a neglecting of traditional political science subjects, and untold meetings that accomplished nothing. Less obvious was the extra time spent by faculty personally tutoring struggling minority students and recruiting affirmative-action candidates at professional meetings. It’s hard to estimate all the hours taken away from our teaching and research responsibilities as a result.

Almost nobody challenged the underlying logic of this make-the-numbers pathway. Everyone just knew that this was the route to equality and justice.

Nor was there any need for bureaucratic heavy-handedness or incentives. Everything was voluntary, and since I taught American politics, a favorite among black students and an obvious place to attract more minority faculty, I was at the forefront of the campaign. That our efforts might be injurious to racial progress or create cures worse than the disease was unthinkable. Even today, it’s difficult to accept that our good intentions helped undermine the university’s commitment to intellectual excellence. Nevertheless, our fingerprints are all over the crime scene.

Subverting intellectual standards was most pervasive in the classroom, where many minority students were ill-prepared for rigorous college courses. Undeserved grades (“B-minuses” vs. “C-minuses”) were commonplace, as were overlooked breaches of the academic code.

One of my students, a troubled junior-college transfer, submitted a dreadful paper, an unambiguous “F,” but he also accidentally included the $25 invoice from an Internet site (“My Professor Sucks”). I did not fail him or begin proceedings to have him expelled. Instead, I consulted our department’s undergraduate advisor on how he could drop the course despite the official drop-date having passed. This was arranged, and he continued his college career.

Even blatant plagiarism was ignored, since it was apparent that culprits would never be prosecuted, and even filing charges put one’s career at risk.

In a particularly bizarre case, a colleague received a clearly plagiarized paper and, rather than bring expulsion proceedings, offered to forget the matter if the student would submit an original one. The student again plagiarized, and my colleague took the case to the dean of students. He explained that this was the sixth such episode involving the student, but the incidents were ignored since the dean believed that confronting the student might cause him to drop out.

Classroom discussions with black students were conducted gingerly. When one of my black students explained that some blacks resided in crime-ridden slums because such awful locations were given to them by whites, I said nothing. I learned to pre-emptively avoid any taboo topic that might risk accusations of racism. When receiving papers that made inaccurate assertions on race-related issues, I refused to pick a fight. In my comments, I might sheepishly offer, “Not sure,” but then I’d assign a respectable (though unearned) grade.

A walking-on-eggshells policy applied equally to graduate students, though here the stakes were more consequential, since Ph.D. recipients might one day teach thousands of students. Again, progress toward the degree was paramount, and foolish ideas were seldom challenged. Simultaneously, standards were lowered for passing comprehensive exams and for dissertation proposals.

In some instances, faculty virtually wrote dissertations for struggling students. These students were also discouraged from enrolling in demanding courses, such as Statistics, that might prove essential for future research. To repeat, it seemed axiomatic that the advanced degree itself was the goal, not providing the best possible education.

Lowered intellectual standards applied equally to faculty recruitment and were widely accepted as the price of progress. An almost religious faith held that intellectual deficiencies would somehow be only temporary. I recall one recruitment-committee meeting at which faculty took turns gleefully reading aloud embarrassing mistakes from a black candidate’s dissertation, including multiple misspellings of the names of well-known political figures. No matter.

Drinking the Kool-Aid hardly stopped at initial recruitment. Minority candidates were hired and continued past multiple reviews, including tenure and promotion to full professor. As was the case with students, serious discussions involving hot-button issues were off limits. We were there to help make the numbers, and we gladly acquiesced.

In a few decades, what began as improvised, temporary measures to move the needle on racial progress hardened into the official academic culture.

RTWT

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6 Feedbacks on "What Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Wrought"

OneGuy

This is not a flaw it is a feature. The people behind this hate America and are using our useful idiots to help them destroy it.



Lee Also

The author is currently an adjunct professor at NYU. Based on the history of cancel culture there, I’d say that once this gets out, he won’t be for long. Too bad. He got the mail on the head.

In my last first into grad school, the better students were paired up with the bad students on projects, who were pretty much all minority students. My partner had absolutely no concept of what plagiarism was.



JustMe

This problem stems from creating these fake college programs and degrees. If the college only offered degrees in fields of science like math, engineering, computers, electronics, etc. You would not have students with the time or the inclination to do these things.

“When a student knows he is to be tested on calculus in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”



Jerryskids

The problem is that the professors are no longer running the schools, the administrators are. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, administrate. And they’re all hard-core Marxists.



IdahoBob

Being quite old I have doctors. You know I have cancer and blood issues and I’m going blind and my prostate is larger than my dinner and I can’t feel anything below my knees and on and on. Every now and then I get sent to a new doctor or specialist and get new treatments and new bad news. Sometimes I get a doctor of color. But never twice, I just don’t go back. Racism!, you might knee-jerk. No of course not simply awareness of the destruction that affirmative action caused such that it is impossible to know if the doctor of color is competent so why take the chance. This hurts competent doctors of color! Yep! What did you expect? Surely the people who thought up affirmative action knew it would promote incompetent people to positions where their incompetence would cause harm. Surely they also knew that informed people would be forced to make that choice to not accept that game of Russian roulette when it mattered. I don’t care that my chef got his job because of his skin color but I do care if my proctologist knows his ass from a hole in the ground. Such is life. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.



Lee Also

Idaho Bob: I agree with you.

But it’s hard to get into see an middle-aged, white make doctor as a new patient. I have been picking women who attended medical school in male-dominated countries but did a residency in the US at a top place. I had a college friend who went to medical school in Jordan (she was from Jordan) and women really had to work twice as hard there to prove they were good enough to be in medical school. So my latest doctors have been a woman who went to medical school in Egypt and did a residency at Johns Hopkins and a woman who went to medical school in India and did a residency at Emory.



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