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.
Am hearing that Brentwood, prestigious private school in LA, is in chaos after almost zero white seniors got into to UC schools. When friends went there in happier times, UC acceptance was like 80%. This year, bipoc kids only.
Parents who spent $60K/yr+ for 6 years little upset
It’s Empire-building justified by an imaginary problem, and it is disastrously fueling tuition bloat and creates powerful local constituencies committed to opposition to free speech and the suppression of adversarial ideas.
Back in the 1830s, Lord Melbourne declared he liked the Order of the Garter best of all his titles because there was â€œnone of that damned nonsense about merit” connected to it.
The elite community of fashion’s current enthusiasm for what is referred to as “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion” has a basic similarity to Lord Melbourne’s perspective, except his merit-free inclusion in the Garter Order was based on a supposed inherited excellence, while the Identity Groups singled out for special treatment under DEI base their claims to special privilege upon ressentiment.
David Swenson has a long record of achieving superior returns by his management of Yale’s endowment. Apparently, he now has decided either that other goals are more important or that anyone can achieve the same.
Americaâ€™s most prominent endowment chief has a message for the firms that manage the schoolâ€™s money: Hire more women and minorities, or possibly lose the universityâ€™s backing.
David Swensen is the veteran investment chief of Yale Universityâ€™s $31.2 billion endowment. Earlier this month, he told the dozens of firms that manage Yaleâ€™s money they would be measured on their progress increasing the diversity of their investment staffs. Mr. Swensen said the Yale Investments Office would be working to improve its own teamâ€™s composition, too.
It is hilarious the way people like this talk about Meritocracy, but their idea of Meritocracy has a heavy thumb on the scale in several class cases.
The old-time Jewish quota (which I strongly suspect still exists) is denounced, but the Asian quota is defended vigorously in court. Certain groups absolutely must be awarded super-proportional representation, at any cost, on the basis of historical disadvantage. But, other outsider groups, Appalachians and working class ethnic Catholics, for instance, also conspicuously historically little represented in Ivy League admissions and in elite financial circles are completely overlooked, simply due to their failure to agitate and complain. The hypocrisy and irrationality is astonishing.
Yesterday, Yale President Peter Salovey announced nine actions “to enhance diversity, promote equity on campus, and foster an environment in which all community members feel welcome, included, and respected,” causing rational alumni, en masse, to go and throw up in the street.
If you want to read a really choice example of vacuous and pretentious academic blather, go and check out:
Dollar quote: “Yale can and must improve in how it creates a climate where all feel safe and valued.”
The mind boggles. Snowflakes don’t feel “safe and valued” at Yale, surrounded by all that opulent and luxurious architecture; their needs attended to by an immense staff of servants; with access to the tutelage of world-ranked scholars, one of the top research libraries, as well as the nation’s finest recreational facilities; their future paths to wealth, power, success, and fame stretching shining before them? What more could it possibly take?
A friend of mine used to remark that “Life after Yale is a constant struggle to live as well as you did as an undergraduate.”
Outsiders at Yale, sons of working class families, those of us of non-New England blue-blood Protestant descent, used to consider ourselves truly blessed to be permitted to attend Yale, to share in a different people’s and a different class’s ancient and illustrious tradition, and to obtain thereby potential entry into membership in the national elite.
Today’s outsiders expect not only admission. They expect to revise the identity and character of the university. They demand faculty and administrators and academic departments of their own. They want the university’s, the nation’s, and the world’s history censored and revised to flatter their own amour propre and to punish historical figures they’ve decided, on the basis of their slender knowledge, are their enemies. They expect to move in, replace the furniture, remodel the house, and change the address.
In today’s America, alas! the national establishment elite has so declined in character and intelligence that its members routinely manifest guilt and a consciousness of their own unworthiness. They are only too eager to grovel, abase themselves, and surrender to the insolent and irrational demands of a deluded radical fringe, addled and intoxicated with a pernicious ideology hostile to Civilization, America, and Yale itself. The people entrusted with custodianship of the Culture and the Canon are classic examples of C.S. Lewis’s “Men Without Chests,” who care for nothing, who believe in nothing beyond personal advancement and the sweet smell of success, and who will reliably pay homage to the latest emotional upheaval afflicting the national community of fashion. Men like Peter Salovey are incapable of conserving anything, of defending anything.
Jan Matejko, Stanczyk during a Ball at the Court of Queen Bona after the Loss of Smolensk, 1862.
July 1514: Stanczyk, the famous jester of Sigismund the Old, was renowned for his cynical humor, but Matejko shows the jester in a private moment of despair in a palace anteroom outside the royal ball being given by Queen Bona Sforza. On the table next to the jester, we see dispatches announcing the fall of Smolensk to the Muscovites. Alone among the denizens of Poland’s royal court, only Stanczyk the jester forsees with dread the rise of Moscow and the destruction of the Commonwealth.
If Stanczyk were employed as jester these days at Yale Universuty in New Haven, Connecticut, he’d probably looked similarly after reading this Yale Daily News story.
Yale will stop teaching a storied introductory survey course in art history, citing the impossibility of adequately covering the entire field â€” and its varied cultural backgrounds â€” in one course.
Decades old and once taught by famous Yale professors like Vincent Scully, â€œIntroduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Presentâ€ was once touted to be one of Yale Collegeâ€™s quintessential classes. But this change is the latest response to student uneasiness over an idealized Western â€œcanonâ€ â€” a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.
This spring, the final rendition of the course will seek to question the idea of Western art itself â€” a marked difference from the courseâ€™s focus at its inception. Art history department chair and the courseâ€™s instructor Tim Barringer told the News that he plans to demonstrate that a class about the history of art does not just mean Western art. Rather, when there are so many other regions, genres and traditions â€” all â€œequally deserving of studyâ€ â€” putting European art on a pedestal is â€œproblematic,â€ he said.
â€œI believe that every object I discuss in [â€œIntroduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Presentâ€] (with the possible exception of one truly ghastly painting by Renoir) is of profound cultural value,â€ Barringer said in an email to the News. â€œI want all Yale students (and all residents of New Haven who can enter our museums freely) to have access to and to feel confident analyzing and enjoying the core works of the western tradition. But I donâ€™t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places.â€
Instead of this singular survey class, the Art History Department will soon offer a range of others, such as â€œArt and Politics,â€ â€œGlobal Craft,â€ â€œThe Silk Roadâ€ and â€œSacred Places.â€ Barringer added that in two or three years, his department will offer a substitute class to â€œIntroduction to Art History.â€ But the new class â€œwill be a course equal in status to the other 100-level courses, not the introduction to our discipline claiming to be the mainstream with everything else pushed to the margins,â€ Barringer said.
It’s essential, you see, to flatter the amour propre of representatives of Identity Victim Groups (specially recruited and affirmatively actioned into Yale) by assuring them that the crude carvings of devils and bogeys their Stone Age ancestors turned out are the equivalent of Michelangelo’s David.
The current issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine features a chin-stroking article identifying a PROBLEM and wondering whether or not SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.
The problem? 55 portraits hanging in Yale Medical Schoolâ€™s Sterling Hall of Medicine, honoring distinguished former faculty feature the images of 52 white men and three white women.
Walls lined with portraits of past Yale medical luminariesâ€”almost all of them white menâ€”lead some medical students to feel that they themselves donâ€™t belong at the school, a recent study found.
Two students interviewed 15 of their peers, asking them open-ended questions about their thoughts on the paintings in the Sterling Hall of Medicine. The portraits feature 52 white men and 3 white women.
Some students said the portraits displayed values of whiteness, elitism, maleness, and power. Some felt â€œjudged and unwelcomeâ€; one said, â€œIf these portraits could speak, they would not be so excited about me . . . being a student here.â€ Some reported joking about the portraits or avoiding Sterling altogether.
â€œFor many interviewed students, the portraiture signified that they did not fit the model of the ideal Yale physician,â€ wrote coauthors Nientara Anderson â€™06, â€™20MD, and Elizabeth Fitzsousa â€™21MD. (The study is online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.) To many women students and students of color, the portraits represent a constant force of disapproval, says Anderson. Medical students of color, she adds, often already face challenges to their right to care for patients in the hospital. Other researchers have found that students who feel theyâ€™re on the margins may experience greater stress, potentially eroding their ability to succeed.
What should become of the portraits? Itâ€™s hard to know, but the conversation has begun, Anderson says. â€œIn recent years, this is the first time this question is being raised with such force,â€ she adds. â€œThereâ€™s no road map.â€
Actually, Springer wants $39.95 for you to download and read the article. Nor is it available through a major research library like Yale University’s main library journal subscription service (accessible to alumni). You can only access that particular journal through Medical School libraries.
How worthwhile it would be to take the trouble to read the entire article is rather questionable. Why would anyone take seriously a “study” which consisted of soliciting the personal opinions of a mere 15 people?
Nonetheless, all three authors now sit on the Yale School of Medicine Committee on Art in Public Spaces, “work[ing] to ensure that artwork hung in public areas of the medical school reflects the mission, history, and diversity of the Yale medical community.” Anna Reisman M.D., who co-chairs the committee, says “this study is an important step in effecting institutional change.” And the Yale Alumni Magazine has joined in promoting it as “the beginning of a conversation” about just what’s going to happen to all those portraits of Dead, White Men.
I think we all know just how this kind of “conversation” always ends.