The Perennial and Perpetual “Campaign for Diversity” at a Eurocentric University

Now showing at your local Eurocentric university: “The Campaign for Diversity” You can pay to go see it, but if you are wise you should realize you have seen this movie before. Allow me to roll out the script.

At the beginning of the movie, you form some “diversity’ committees. Can’t do without them. Now since almost no one at your institution EXCEPT the “diverse’ people are remotely interested in this, the “diversity” committees or efforts will be largely populated by and put on the backs of the “diverse’ departments and the “diverse” people. They each end up on about 12-13 of these, with little institutional reward and great expenses of time and energy trying to push institution-wide objectives with only themselves and a vote of confidence from certain sympathetic administration officials at their backs.

Now since the “diverse’ people are the only ones who really believe in this or care, they are understood by all of the actors and actresses in the institution to be the ones responsible for acting out the diversity script. for example, under ACT 1, “Hiring more inclusively” The “diverse” departments which already have an overrepresentation of the excluded groups are expected to do even more.

ACT II of the play is called “The Bake Sale Principle” When the university or college wants to do something, build a new stadium, start a new program, they usually put up a huge stack of seed money, hire administrative staff, and then solicit outside funding for the project. Now since the slaves, I mean “diverse” people are in charge of the diversity because they are diverse, get it? They will work for free. So you don’t allocate any money. You just stack up unfunded mandates for them and have them use their tiny budgets or bake sales to fund the “diversity” projects for the whole university. Inevitably, “diversity’ projects are not seen as separately funded or as unique university imperatives but rather as something that is purchased on the cheap as part of the ongoing budgets, which means individuals and departments and programs that really want to do this end up having the discussions about it and paying for it, while others get to ignore it. They also end up largely having to deal with these perpetually unfunded mandates which are incorporated as “just part of what they do.” In fact, it becomes part of the presumption of the university that these already underfunded, oppressed groups will take the lead and simply contribute all of this to the institution as a whole.

Act III is called “ANYTHING but ACCOUNTABILITY” and this one stars the administration including the “liberal” ones that claim they support the effort. This part of the film is very difficult as they have to consistently and make it sound really convincing to the audience. When the university wants to compel its employees to do something, it has accountability. If you are a chair or faculty member or staff member and you fail to do your job whether its research, or teaching, or clerical work or whatever, you can be put on probation or fired or reassigned or have a pay cut. But when it comes to not doing anything in the area of “diversity,” they will fight heaven and earth themselves to prevent actually holding anyone professionally responsible for this thing they supposed want to have done. So folks who ignore the campaign experience no consequences, which is why almost everyone at the institution does just that. The universities in question resist at all costs the appointment of a chief executive level officer for “diversity” or “inclusion”, using an ever shifting list of rationales which are inherently contradictory and inconsistent in the face of the fact that the institutions appoint such officials for almost every major building initiative. “Diversity” continues to work on the principle of “trust us” and “good offices” when any study in the literature shows that the number one variable in progress on this issues is accountability. Incentives are helpful, but not as a surrogates for accountability. We do not take no for an answer generally in scholarship, research, and traditional service but when it comes to this we tend to feel like “we’re working on it, I’ll get back to you, giving it my best shot, can’t find anyone, and the rest of that drivel is acceptable”. And with no professional or institutional consequences or procedures for due process to directly carry them out and no will TO do so, those things HAVE to be acceptable.

ACT IV is the “affirmative action scam.” On the front end, the university encourages “people of color” to apply, knowing full well that most of those applicants do not and will not meet the criteria and skill sets they are going to need. however, the institution gets credit for them just being in the process and the focus is on making sure there are some “people of color” in the pool, not that they actually GET A JOB! Of course, a REAL strategy would be to mentor and train the potential applicants at the institution’s expense to prepare them for the skill sets and jobs likely to be hired so that when they apply they not only are faces in the well, but also compelling candidates. And again, since there is no institutional accountability and a focus on the “diverse” people and units handling “diversity,” most of the pressure brought to bear on hiring with regard to “people of color” is on ethnic studies departments, multicultural offices, and so on, not on the REAL parts of the university proper.

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