My son, he of two bone marrow transplants, the most recent being when he was fifteen, is haltingly preparing to attend college this fall. He’s a high school senior, incredibly having managed, though half of his sophomore year was spent with a morphine pump at his disposal, to be on course to graduate high school with his original class. Kudos to him. I haven’t the faintest notion why he thought graduating with his class was such a compelling imperative, but it looks like he will manage to do it. Such is the mind of teenagers, a mystery as profound as the dark energy and matter said to comprise 96% of the universe.
He got accepted to a private school (among others) that has become something of an alternative around these parts (Birmingham, Alabama) to the prestige of say Duke or Vanderbilt. It’s a place where rich people send their not-quite-genius kids, so they can prove they could still afford Duke or Vandy, if only their little trophy children kept their end of the bargain. It still charges tuition at the rate those “Harvards of the South” charge, but hasn’t quite yet acquired their reputation. I told him he could go only if, a) he got a scholarship, or b) found a way to pay for the last two years.
The budget is a hundred grand. I’ve told both him and my daughter that a hundred grand is all they get from me once they graduate high school. They can use it for college, or whatever else they like, but I’m not mortgaging the house to pay for college for either of them, and I’m not giving them money for the rest of their lives. The money spigot starts running after high school graduation, and dries up at a hundred grand. That’s about ten times the support I received after high school from my family, and not because there wasn’t plenty of money. I was accepted by Vanderbilt way back in 1981, but my physician father flatly said no–it was too expensive, though it wasn’t nearly as expensive then as it is now, both as an absolute, and a relative matter. Fifty grand per year is what Vandy, and the not-quite-Vandy where he was accepted, will set you back these days.
But this not-quite-Harvard of the South where my son was accepted sent out a recent letter from somebody called the “Director of Multicultural Affairs” that had me guffawing at how silly this whole collegiate nonsense has become. I had to share it.
It starts out, “As indicated in —– University’s diversity vision statement below…”, which had me immediately scanning below to see what comprises a diversity vision statement (I’ve redacted the university’s name):
——- University embraces diversity as an implicit value and as an explicit practice in all of its endeavors. In keeping with its educational mission and the ideals of its founding, the University seeks to build a community upholds the inherent worth of individuals in an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust and civility.
Okay, if it upholds the inherent worth of individuals, from where is their “diversity” derived? Except, of course, as individuals are always different from each other, which is the whole idea behind the very word, individual.
Surprise–individual diversity is not that which the Director of Multicultural Affairs is referring to. The second paragraph of the letter explains what sort of diversity we are concerned with here:
…realizing that our objective to develop and sustain a dynamic and engaging academic community must include students from different ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, spiritual beliefs, geographic origins, genders, and much more….
So diversity among individuals is derived from their inclusion in a group. It is not individuals that are inherently worthy. It is the groups into which individuals can be pigeon-holed that provides the diversity in individuals the university claims to seek.
The University offers majors, concentrations, and classes that give all students the opportunity to understand diversity in all its forms. Specifically, concentrations are available in wide-ranging disciplines such as Black Cultures in the Americas or Poverty Studies and our popular and renowned major in Asian Studies.
Where is the major in human studies? You know, the studies that don’t focus on the differences among cultures, but focuses on their similarities, in an attempt to tease out the base attributes of the giddy creatures known as Homo sapiens (giddiness undeniably being one of its more basic attributes, as disciplines like Poverty Studies attest). Isn’t that sort of the point of an education? To arrive at some foundational truths about this world and the human beings within it? Apparently not, if the available course offerings on diversity are any indication.
But that’s okay, because the university seeks to encourage the continuation of cultural differences, of diversity, by providing students with extracurricular organizations focused on doing so:
[The University] also offers numerous clubs and organizations on campus that provide all students with opportunities to make friendships and to create understanding of the wonderful diversity on our campus. Among these are the —-University International Students Association, the Hispanic Organization of Learning and Awareness (HOLA), and our very active student chapter of the NAACP.
It fails me to understand how society might be improved by reinforcing the belief that humans are different because of their cultural or racial background. Isn’t the melting pot of white Europeans in America a testament to the fact that culture and race are contrived differences–that at heart, all humans are the same? To be sure, the melting pot didn’t go any further than proving all people of pallor were the same, as they refused initially to allow colored peoples into the pot. But the principle was proved. It’s time to apply it to all peoples everywhere, and reject this diversity nonsense.
It’s interesting how the words used to describe political ideologies are so often Orwellian, resolving over time to mean exactly the opposite of what they purport to describe. Diversity is undeniably a “Progressive” imperative, but it seeks to regressively solidify contrived, non-durable differences. There is nothing progressive about the idea the Progressive movement has for diversity. It seeks to lock people into static groups, celebrating their differences, as if the differences were immutably derived. The history of man pretty clearly reveals that nothing about the groups and alliances, and even cultures he forms, is immutable. All are simply attempts to satisfy man’s one overriding, immutable compulsion–survival and propagation in the premises.
So, for only fifty thousand dollars a year, my son can be dogmatically indoctrinated in the value of preserving disparate cultures and races. Never mind that culture is a first or second derivative of human nature, and race is not even biologically definable. When does the fifty grand a year teach him how to think critically? To reject dogma, in order that he might see things as they are, and not in the manner that some fraudulent attempt to celebrate contrived differences among people wishes they be seen? He’d be better off just going to work, and spending his money on the classics of history, if he wants to actually get an education, and not just a slip of paper issued from a dogma factory.