Thursday, July 03, 2008

Diversity, Liberal Style

It is an article of faith among the left both that colleges should be diverse and the diversity should only be skin deep--i.e., not expose students to a range of thought or politics. Still, I was surprised to learn from Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed that diversity in real-world academia is still more shallow:
In September of 2000, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Idaho were both embarrassed when they were forced to admit that they had doctored promotional photographs to make their campuses look diverse. In both cases, non-white faces were added to real student photographs of all-white groups.

At the universities involved, officials insisted that they meant well, but just about everyone agreed that Photoshop diversity isn’t the real thing. But what if photos, even real photos of real live students, convey a false impression?

A sociologist at Augsburg College, together with an undergraduate, recently studied the viewbooks of hundreds of four-year colleges and universities, selected at random. The research team counted the racially identifiable student photographs and also gathered data on the actual make-up of the student bodies.

The findings: Black students made up an average of 7.9 percent of students at the colleges studied, but 12.4 percent of those in viewbooks. Asian students are also more likely to be found in viewbooks than on campus, making up 3.3 percent of real students on average and 5.1 percent of portrayed students. The researchers acknowledge that appearance does not always tell the story of race and ethnicity, and say that they only counted clearly identifiable photos, and feel less confident about figures for Latino students. But they report relatively few students whose appearance suggested that they might be Latino, which is striking given the growth in the Latino student body. (A total of 371 colleges were studied, and historically black colleges were excluded; the findings were recently presented at the meeting of the Midwest Sociological Society.)

Looked at another way, he found that more than 75 percent of colleges appeared to overrepresent black students in viewbooks.

So why are black students more prevalent in viewbooks than on campus?

“Black equals diversity for many people. If you show African American students, people think that means your institution is diverse,” said Timothy D. Pippert, an assistant professor of sociology at Augsburg, who led the study. “They are defining diversity as that face.”
(via Instapundit)


Anonymous said...

Please provide authoritative support that it is a "liberal" view that diversity is only "skin deep." That concept seems counterintuitive and counterproductive. Furthermore, it may be based on a logical post hoc, ergo propter hoc error that diversity of thought on campuses is the result of an increased minority population in student bodies, which itself hints of prejudice. As Justice O'Connor wrote or referenced in Grutter v. Bollinger:

Enrolling a "critical" mass of minority students simply to assure some specified percentage of a particular group merely because of its race or ethnic origin would be patently unconstitutional. ... But the Law School defines its critical mass concept by reference to the substantial, important, and laudable educational benefits that diversity is designed to produce, including cross-racial understanding and the breaking down of racial stereotypes. The Law School’s claim is further bolstered by numerous expert studies and reports showing that such diversity promotes learning outcomes and better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce, for society, and for the legal profession. Major American businesses have made clear that the skills needed in today’s increasingly global marketplace can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse people, cultures, ideas, and viewpoints.

That last sentence clearly suggests "racial" diversity alone is insufficient.

And, oh yeah, Happy 4th of July, America, the melting pot of people AND ideas!


Carl said...


Well, the Fish article I linked suggests that.

OBloodyHell said...

> Please provide authoritative support that it is a "liberal" view that diversity is only "skin deep."

Show me the campus where they encourage faculty to be Republican or Libertarian in order to get a wider spread of notions on them.

Show me the campus (other than a few limited enclaves where alternative ideas are focused, such as Auburn [Mises], Chicago [Friedman] or George Mason [either]) where free market principles are stressed as strongly as collectivism, in order to encourage debate and thinking.

Show me the campus where there is a National Organization For Men's chapter, a Men's studies program, or a strong positive presence for recognition of Male roles and Male as just as valid as those of Women.

Q.E.D. - "diversity" is nothing but hot air. And colleges and universities are predominantly liberal enclaves where non-liberal ideas... "whut dat?"

Assistant Village Idiot said...

anonymous, it is a fair point that liberal political ideology may not create this situation, nor be especially compatible with it. For conservatives in general, it is enough that universities claim that diversity is an important value to their progressive social views, yet in practice lack an important form of diversity. Indeed, conservatives would strongly argue that the diversity of ideas they lack is the more important one.

But you are right. Liberalism may only seem to cause this dissonance. It is also possible that avoiding diversity is universal human nature. All dominant philosophies may over time gradually eliminate their competitors. If that is the case, then we should be grateful to liberals for at least highlighting the value, even if they can currently only put up a Potemkin village of it.

Good thought. I may write on it soon.

OBloodyHell said...


It walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, sheds water like a duck...

It's a duck

"Liberal Diversity" has about as much in common with the true notion of "Diversity" as "Pravda" did with "Truth"... and they both stem from the same Orwellian memes.