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Diversity Within Institutions vs. Diversity Across Institutions:

David's post on efforts to make Brandeis University more "diverse" by making it less distinctively Jewish gives me a good opportunity to write about a pet peeve: The conflict between diversity within institutions and diversity across them.

Those who argue for diversity in higher education implicitly envision a school that has a "critical mass" of whites, blacks, Jews, Hispanics, and other groups. Such a university may well be internally diverse (at least in an ethnic sense), but if every school pursues this ideal, than they will all look more or less alike on the ethnic dimension, or whatever other criterion is chosen as the focus of diversity promotion. There will be diversity within institutions, but very little diversity across institutions.

By contrast, if Brandeis continues to be a distinctively Jewish school, Brigham Young continues to be a distinctively Mormon school, and so on, these schools can make unique contributions to American higher education that might otherwise be lost. Although Brandeis and BYU may not be internally diverse, they definitely add to the overall diversity of the American higher education system in two important ways. First, they give students who want to attend a distinctively Jewish or Mormon school an option they would not have if all schools stick to the internal diversity model. Second, faculty at a distinctively Jewish or Mormon school might well pursue research on subjects that are ignored or at least deemphasized at other types of institutions. Brandeis' traditional focus on hiring faculty who study the history of Judaism and the Jewish people is an example of the latter.

To be sure, a school built around a particular group identity will have weaknesses as well as strengths. But the weaknesses are offset by the fact that there will always be hundreds of other schools that do not try to foster a distinctive group identity. Students and faculty who don't want to be associated with a distinctively Jewish school have plenty of options, even if they can't attend Brandeis. The question is not whether there should be a large number of internally diverse schools, but whether all schools should be that way. Both students and scholars will be worse off if we exalt diversity within institutions to such an extent that diversity across institutions is eliminated.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Diversity Within Institutions vs. Diversity Across Institutions:
  2. More on Brandeis and Carter:
Houston Lawyer:
You will all be assimilated; resistance is futile. That is, unless you object to the orthodoxy, in which event you will be suppressed or excluded.
3.22.2007 7:23pm
Nellie:
Over the last 30 years, virtually all the men's colleges have become coeducational, removing this option in higher education. I think only Hampton-Syndey and Morehouse remain as 4-year men's schools. Your daughter has a number of choices for a single-sex school (Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Smith, Mt. Holyoke) but there isn't much available for your son.
3.22.2007 7:29pm
OzMan:
Agreed Ilya. So how about the same argument for countries, e.g. if we keep Denmark Danish it will be better than making every country a mishmash. Agree? Or is this ad hoc?
3.22.2007 7:36pm
Molechaser:
Good points, and I think I agree. But you may want to think about whether it's a good thing to suggest that "giv[ing] students who want to attend a distinctively Jewish or Mormon school an option" is something we want to pursue. Think how this statement would be perceived if "Jewish or Mormon" were replaced with "white" or "southern" or even something more comfortably liberal (such as "liberal"). Internal diversity might have more going for it than you acknowledge.
3.22.2007 7:56pm
M. Stack (mail):
Excellent points.
3.22.2007 8:05pm
Spencer (mail):
I graduated twice from BYU (once with a B.A., once with a J.D.). I appreciate BYU's contribution to educational diversity. For example, according to this recent news article:

Three BYU professors have uncovered mysteries in ancient Egyptian writings aided by new technology that allows people to see inscriptions invisible to the naked eye.

The professors Roger Macfarlane, Stephen Bay and Thomas Wayment, have been working on deciphering these writings on papyrus found in an Egyptian dump where an ancient city known as Oxyrhynchus previously existed. The papyri are now housed at the University of Oxford in England and studied by various scholars around the globe.

The technology developed by BYU called multispectral imaging, can penetrate through dirt, stains and other material on the papyri, making it possible to expose obscured lettering.

"BYU has made the most substantial advance in reading these papyri in over 100 years," said Macfarlane, associate professor of classics at BYU. "We are beginning to learn where the BYU technology makes given problems go away."

Other examples of unique areas of study include BYU's work with the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Herculaneum papyri, and the Syriac manuscripts from the Vatican Library, BYU's Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, BYU's Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, and BYU's Molecular Geneology Research Project.

BYU's interest in the these areas arises out of its association with the LDS Church and with that church's beliefs. You don't have to agree with the tenets of Mormonism to appreciate the contributions of BYU to various fields of study. After all, the most valuable form of "diversity" is diversity of thought.
3.22.2007 8:07pm
Ilya Somin:
Think how this statement would be perceived if "Jewish or Mormon" were replaced with "white" or "southern" or even something more comfortably liberal (such as "liberal"). Internal diversity might have more going for it than you acknowledge.

I don't have any objection to having distinctively southern or liberal schools, as long as there are numerous other options. Both of these models might have some benefits (though they would also have weaknesses, too). As for distinctively "white" schools, I am not convinced that American whites are a cohesive and distinctive enough group that such a school would have any advantages. Moreover, because whites are such an overwhelming majority in the US, even to the extent that whites do have distinctive cultural traits, those will be reflected even in schools that don't deliberately try to emphasize them.
3.22.2007 8:08pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
An outstanding point. I think America is so successful economically and culturally because we have a diversity of institutions, not because we have diverse institutions. Our federal system is an example of this on the political level.

The idea that every institution ought to strive to be all things to all people is seductive, though. If you love Brandeis University, one natural reaction is to wish that its benefits be made more accessible all. If State Program X is good, Federal Program X would be 50 times better.

What matters to the country is whether we have a strong educational system, not whether our individual institutions are strong. On the other hand, what matters to a particular university president is different.
3.22.2007 8:12pm
Molechaser:
Good point, again, and I agree. I'm just somewhat fearful of how a racist (or some other kind of -ist) might use this argument to create institutions that are very far away from the Brandeis/BYU homogeneous-but-good model.
3.22.2007 8:12pm
Ilya Somin:
I'm just somewhat fearful of how a racist (or some other kind of -ist) might use this argument to create institutions that are very far away from the Brandeis/BYU homogeneous-but-good model.

I agree that that might happen (and actually has happened with Bob Jones U., for example). But such schools will be relatively rare, and will be stigmatized by the rest of the academic community, as Bob Jones certainly has been. Tolerating the existence of Bob Jones and its ilk, is a small price to pay for the benefits of diversity across institutions.
3.22.2007 8:19pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
I agree mostly with Ilya's response on "southern" or "liberal" schools. I wonder if American whites are any less cohesive or distinct as a group than, say, American blacks, however.

I think the reasons that "white" schools are more troublesome than "black" schools lies elsewhere. The problem is that if one had to assign a single ethnicity to the most successful schools in America, that ethnicity would almost always be "white," so allowing this category to exist carries the danger of meaningfully reducing the diversity of choices for non-white students. Of course, that is exactly what happened in many US states in the pre- Civil Rights era.

By contrast, though American Jews are quite successful as a group, specifically "Jewish" schools like Brandeis have never been so successful as to meaningfully reduce the diversity of choices for non-Jewish students. They may do good, world-class work in some fields, but there are other schools that you can attend if you are uncomfortable with this kind of ethnic focus that are just as good.

I think all this supports Ilya's overall diversity point, particularly if one understands a truly diverse system to include some schools which are neutral on ethnic diversity (such as the California state schools) and some which make a positive effort to be ethnically diverse (like U. Mich.).
3.22.2007 8:41pm
anonVCfan:
Great post.
3.22.2007 8:44pm
Cyg:
Professor Somin's argument is analogous to what anti-sprawl activists say when they oppose building yet another Wal-Mart, i.e., every town should not be identical.

So, let's assume Brandeis achieves excellence in Jewish history scholarship because Brandeis chooses to devote extra resources to that field that a more diverse university, for reasons of "fairness," might feel compelled to spend on, say, African history. If so, one would hope the (completely hypothetical) deficit in African history scholarship at Brandeis would be made up for by a corresponding increase in such scholarship at a more Afro-centric university. But would that really happen?
3.22.2007 9:05pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
Two scenarios.

First scenario, whch I'm not sure is fair, valid, or useful in any way, but is bothering me so I'll toss it out and see what people think.

Does it make a difference if the critical phrase is worded in the negative? Such as: "giv[ing] students who want to attend a distinctively NON-Jewish school an option?" Is it ok to create diversity across institutions by decreasing diversity within certain institutions by, no matter how subtly and insidiously, excluding designated outsiders?

Secondly, consider "giv[ing] students who want to attend a distinctively Christian school an option," where the effort to create the "distinctively Christian school" serve, again no matter how subtly and insidiously, to exclude Jews. Is that ok?

Well, ok at third point. Is there any logical difference between the first and second scenarios?

Perhaps I'm being too narrowly logical or indeed mathematical about this, but it seems to me that any effort create a distinctively "X" school can be just as easily phrased as a creating a school that excludes anyone who is "not-X", and vice versa. In other words, supporting the creation of "distinctively X" schools serves (even if it is not intended by its initial proponents) to support racial, ethnic, religious, etc. discrimination.

But I guess that is ok, since the "not-X" people can always attend their "not-X" schools.
3.22.2007 9:13pm
Mark Field (mail):
Is it ok for schools which want to create a distinctively "diverse" student body to use "affirmative action" to do so?
3.22.2007 9:34pm
M (mail):
Charles, the types of cases you suggest seem to actually exist, and to not necessarily be offensive. Take the 'distinctly non-jewish' school. You might try, for example, Idaho State University if that's what you want. I'd be quite surprised if it had a higher percentage of Jews than Brandies has non-Jews. Now, of course it doesn't market itself that way, but nonetheless, if you want a "distinctly non-jewish school", there it is waiting for you. Or for the "distinctly christian" school consider Wheaton (the one in Illinois, not the one is Mass.) It _only_ has protestant christian faculty and has a 'statement of faith' requirement that would make it pretty uncomfortable for non-christians. I'd not want to go to school there and couldn't work there. But it's a well respected school and it seems fine to me that it exists. As for all-male schools, Wabash College is a good example of a good, private, all-male school. Again, it wouldn't be for me, but I don't mind having it around.
3.22.2007 9:39pm
neurodoc:
Is "diversity" a notion, like that of "racism," which one doesn't want to engage with because to do so invites being labeled a troglodyte or something worse? Is "diversity" a good thing at all times and in all places, with the possible exception of a few carve-outs like Brigham Young and Brandeis? (Notre Dame?)

I don't recall ever hearing the notion of "diversity" bandied about until the end of the '80s. Around that time, it was subtley insinuated into the national conversation about ways to remedy the injustices of racism in this country. Champions of "affirmative action" had tried "goals and timetables" to answer opponents who objected to "quotas," but that wasn't selling wonderfully well. Then "diversity" was introduced and that conversation was quickly and very effectively redirected from "quotas," with their negative connotations, to "diversity," with its positive connotations.

"Meritocracy," another obstacle in the way of progress, was knocked out by those decrying "elitism" and promoting "diversity." Afterwards, it was much easier for the University of California system to do what had to be done to keep down the numbers of high-achieving Asians and make room for other minorities, notably Blacks and Hispanics. (Boston Latin School, a selective high school, was caught in the squeeze between "diversity" and "meritocracy.")

"Diversity" ought to be closely scrutinized and not unquestioningly accepted as a clear, unequivocal, universal "good".
3.22.2007 9:40pm
Scipio_79:
excellent point ilya. the cult of diversity has indeed gotten out of hand in the "West." i hope our great institutions don't turn out like our great cities, virtually identical in every aspect, save maybe the landmarks.
3.22.2007 9:41pm
Spocougar:
This is a great post. Diversity has a very narrow definition in today's world. I attended BYU as an undergrad and associated with people of various political inclinations, cultural backgrounds, nationalities, etc. Almost all of my friends were bilingual and had spent significant time outside the States. I don't think attending the same church on Sunday detracted from the significant diversity of experience that existed on campus.
3.22.2007 9:46pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Charles,

I agree that creating ethnically focused schools tends to support ethnic discrimination. On the other hand, I think most people would agree that *some* types/levels of ethnic discrimination is OK. For example, an Orthodox Jewish man wanting to marry only a Jewish woman, so that his children will be, by Orthodox lights, Jewish. So creating schools which support *good* discrimination has some value. Maintaining one's identity as Jewish, or Mormon, or Baptist requires some preferential (ie discriminatory) relationships (for example, deciding who you go to church with).

To me, the harm in discrimination comes in excluding a person from participation in *society,* rather than excluding them from a particular relationship with a particular person or institution. It doesn't harm me that the Nation of Islam won't hire me to be their lawyer (assuming they won't), because I have plenty of other opportunities. On the other hand, it really did harm a black lawyer in the 1930s living in Georgia if a significant fraction of (mostly white) businesspeople wouldn't hire a black lawyer. Plessy style "Separate but equal" didn't work and was unethical because: (1) "equal" got lost in practice; and (2) there was no third non-separate option.

So long as there is enough diversity across institutions, there is no need for diversity within institutions in order to give every individual an appropriate option. If everyone has effectively the same opportunity there is no practical harm, so no practical ethical problem I can see. Unfortunately, law is something of a blunt instrument, and creating "enough" diversity may require an inflexible, overbroad legal rule. It is possible to follow ethical rules that are more complex than a workable legal rule.
3.22.2007 9:59pm
Scipio_79:
agreed spocougar, the idea of diversity today seems to limited to something like a benneton ad. but diversity of experince and of ideas is much more valuable than diversity of mere accidental traits.
3.22.2007 10:01pm
hey (mail):
The Ivies and the colleges of Oxbridge all have sectarian roots and flourished with this diversity across institutions. The interesting aspect of Oxbridge (and some other Commonwealth schools) is that there is a diversity within and across institutions inside what is considered 1 University.

In Canada, the universities of Toronto and Waterloo both have active, sectarian residential colleges close to the Brandeis model (they welcome everyone but have a distinct character, chapel services, staff, and curriculum informed by their denomination) some of which award their own degrees. Waterloo actually has a Mennonite college on campus, thanks to the area's history, which doesn't have very many students of the faith but follows closely the culture and religion (modern, not the horse and buggy version so prevalent in the countryside around the school that the local Home Depot has a covered buggy stall and hitching posts in its parking lot).

"Diversity" is just a weapon used to further the ideological and sociological mission of a certain sliver of academia. Another is the movement in the UK to disfavour students whose parents attended university when considering applications. Look for many more Brits to be studying in North America and Australia in the very near future.
3.22.2007 10:03pm
ReaderY:
We don't make this argument for countries or workplaces. But we do make this argument for households. A school has a lot of characteristics that make it similar to a household and dissimilar from a commercial workplace or a state -- principally that people do it for the love of it and ones associations are important. If the argument's good for a household, why not a school? After all, the school cases -- Meyer v. Nebraska and Pierce v. Society of Sisters -- came first, and Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas came later. If the argument for with-in entity diversity is positively irrational for households, what makes it rational for schools?
3.22.2007 10:36pm
Zoe1 (mail):
The problem with Ilya's argument is its failure to recognize that "diversity" is just a code word. It means ensuring enough members of certain underrepresented groups have a place at the table.

We call it "diversity" only because that's the label Justice Powell used in his Bakke concurrence. But no one actually means it when they say it. That's why proponents of "diversity" usually oppose viewpoint diversity; viewpoint diversity simply doesn't help ensure enough members of certain underrepresented groups have a place at the table.

Ilya's proposal would further real diversity, and more importantly would allow a diverse market of educational products to exist. But proponents of "diversity" won't be interested because "diversity" is just a code word.
3.23.2007 12:26am
Response to Hey (mail):
Hey,

The University of Pennsylvania-- a (damn fine) Ivy League school--never was sectarian.

Franklin's best invention, indeed.
3.23.2007 1:41am
John Rosenberg (mail) (www):
Interestingly, Ilya's argument is almost precisely the same as Virginia's defense of the (then) all-male Virginia Military Institute. For better or worse, the argument failed: United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996).
3.23.2007 1:44am
David Walser:

Interestingly, Ilya's argument is almost precisely the same as Virginia's defense of the (then) all-male Virginia Military Institute. For better or worse, the argument failed: United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996).

Yes, but what is permissible for private parties is not always permissible for government, no? As much as BYU, Baylor, or Brandeis alums may love their school, I doubt any of them would advocate a city, state, or federal institution that is uniquely Mormon, Baptist, or Jewish. It's okay for someone to consider religion (or sexual orientation!) when selecting a spouse, it's not okay for the Department of Motor Vehicles to consider religion when issuing drivers licenses.
3.23.2007 1:53am
Steve in CA (mail):
VMI is private.
3.23.2007 2:27am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I agree with Ilya's post. I have no trouble with a distinctly Jewish school, a Mormon one, or a Catholic one.

More troubling are "all-white" schools, of which we now have only Bob Jones (I believe), because, unlike Brandeis or BYU, the motive for such a school seems to be an active dislike of the groups being excluded (or a belief in their inferiority), rather than a celebration of a particular culture or religion.

As for a state that is dominated by one religion, I would say Utah comes close, but not "officially."
3.23.2007 2:40am
Roy Haddad (mail):
Ethnic discrimination is entirely unjustifiable (though I believe it should not be illegal for private parties), but cultural discrimination is. This is why a White school is not the same as a Black school. The former doesn't refer to a specific cultural heritage, just an ethnicity, while Black may refer to either. 'Jewish' definitely refers to a culture. Anyone may convert if they strongly wish to.
3.23.2007 3:13am
Ken Arromdee:
'Jewish' definitely refers to a culture. Anyone may convert if they strongly wish to.

This isn't really true. It's like a certain anti-Pascal's-Wager argument--you can't convince yourself to believe something that you think is false. Judaism doesn't emphasize belief as much as some religions, but still, imagine a non-Jew who, say, doesn't believe in God and can't choose to believe otherwise. He has no way to become a Jew.
3.23.2007 3:43am
ReaderY:
Although it may have changed subsequently, VMI as described in the Supreme Court case was definitely public. Agree that a private school is more like a household than a public school. But foster parents are kind of like public households -- or one might think of them as something of a small boarding school.

People have very strong views on these things -- often with deep emotional attachment and a strong belief that any other point of view is inherently immoral. It is useful to identify borderline cases, cases one can see potentially falling into both categories, which are hard to classify, and which require people to actually think about what identifies each category.
3.23.2007 3:58am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Ilya I think you have fallen into the trap of taking the ridiculous claim that 'diversity is good' seriously. Obviously only some types of diversity are good (different ones in different situations). We aren't upset that colleges don't contain enough people who failed high school or people who would be better off getting a job than go to college. However, we might be upset if the people who showed up at the voting booth weren't diverse with respect to these categories.

Using the word diversity to stand for a general good (independent of type of diversity or situation) is obviously an argumentatively worthless PR strategy. If all you meant to do was lambast this simpleminded notion of diversity then this seems a very roundabout way to do it. If instead you meant to address the serious argument that is behind this PR strategy I think you failed.

The real argument would say that we have noted little advantage in having diversity among colleges in race but great potential harm in allowing colleges to not be diverse in terms of the race of their members. Having blacks and whites together in one colleges offers obvious benefits and reduces racial tension through personal acquaintance while having black and white institutions does nothing useful.

To take an extreme example it makes sense to have countries that are have populations diverse in gender (both men and women). It would make little sense to have diversity among countries in gender (male countries and female countries). I think the same thing is true about colleges.

Which diversity is good and which bad depends on the situation.
3.23.2007 5:30am
Porkchop (mail):
Steve in CA:


VMI is private.



No, VMI is very definitely still public, as it always has been.
3.23.2007 8:30am
notarobot (mail):
But logicnazi doesn't go far enough. The diversity argument is really about racial diversity between blacks and whites (and, to a lesser extent Hispanics). Even when Asians were not a large presence on campus, a school with 60% white, 40% black and no Asian students would have been considered diverse. Yet many articles treat schools which are 60% white, 40% Asian as not diverse. If racial diversity is desirable, why should its desirability reflect the US racial balance? Why not the world racial balance? Aren't Mongolians more underrepresented than Africans (and probably more likely to bring genuine intellectual diversity)? What about Middle Eastern Christians?

As we know, disproportionately many of the blacks at Ivies are upper class, mixed race, or children of immigrants. So it's not even about helping the poor or redressing past racial wrongs. It's window dressing for social engineering and tokenism.
3.23.2007 10:57am
VanMorganJr. (mail):
"Think how this statement would be perceived if "Jewish or Mormon" were replaced with "white" or "southern" or even something more comfortably liberal (such as "liberal"). Internal "

I quit contributing to Vanderbilt Law School when it lost (or, more acurately, abandoned) its uniquely Southern character. In the cause of "diversity," VLS has transformed itself into just another Duke or Emery. Where's the diversity in that?

And, by the way, thanks for the snotty comment about "southern."
3.23.2007 12:31pm
jvarisco (www):
It always seemed to me that schools should strive not to be different, but to be better. Obviously Harvard is not typical: not because of some particular character, but because the people are smarter.

As for institutions without diversity, it seems that one can measure the utility of diversity within the campus as opposed to a specific character. I don't think one can argue that Brandeis should remain exclusively Jewish for the benefit of some students if doing so would hurt the school itself. Assuming everyone is qualified, having different types of people is likely to help foster intellectual discussion and bring new ideas to the table. Especially in a country trying to eliminate segregation into disparate groups, this is a good thing.
3.23.2007 1:15pm
JonC:
Logicnazi:


Having blacks and whites together in one college offers obvious benefits and reduces racial tension through personal acquaintance...


Does it really? I don't know for sure, but I imagine that this is a rather empirically sketchy claim. After all, you can admit lots of people of different races to the same school, but you can't force them all to intermingle once they're all there. The large number of single-ethnicity social groups, fraternities, and on-campus dormitories attests to that.

Also, what are some of the "obvious" benefits that you refer to but don't name, aside from "reducing racial tension"?
3.23.2007 1:19pm
Porkchop (mail):

Also, what are some of the "obvious" benefits that you refer to but don't name, aside from "reducing racial tension"?


I've always wondered that as well. I've been listening to the "diversity" mantra for years, since my children began kindergarten, I suppose. The schools regulary indicate that they "value" or "celebrate" their "diversity." But no one has ever really defined "diversity" or articulated its benefits to me.

I could speculate that there is some positive benefit to seeing and socializing with, on a daily basis, children that don't all look alike; possibly that would lead to more openness and communication among individuals of different races/cultures/economic backgrounds as the children grow older. A reduced sense of "otherness" might be a positive thing, reducing social tensions. Other than that, though, this is such a vague, touchy-feely concept that I don't think it really has any utility except to provide an excuse for whatever the cause du jour might be. (Also, full employment for various diversity consultants, trainers, investigators, administrators, and other members of the diversity industry.)
3.23.2007 2:01pm
Ilya Somin:
Ilya I think you have fallen into the trap of taking the ridiculous claim that 'diversity is good' seriously. Obviously only some types of diversity are good (different ones in different situations).

I agree. That's why I argued that diversity within institutions should not be pushed so far that it destroys diversity across institutions. I also agree that racial diversity across institutions (all-white schools, all black ones, etc.) does not have any intrinsic benefits. But cultural, religious, and ideological diversity across institutions does have benefits, and sometimes pursuing it would lead to greater racial and ethnic homogeneity at some schools than advocates of the standard definition of "diversity" would prefer.
3.23.2007 2:08pm
Tillman Fan (mail):
As noted by several commenters, "diversity" in broad terms is such a vague word as to be almost meaningless. Within the workplace or educational institutions, it's used almost exclusively to mean diversity in skin color, and there is a general assumption that this will translate to different "viewpoints" based on the diverse backgrounds of the population.

The lack of support for this assumption seems almost breathtaking; for example, in many ways I share fewer viewpoints with my brother (who has the same white, suburban background as I do) than I do with a friend who sought asylum from a west African country 10 years ago, and has lived since then in a series of inner-city tenements.

The "diversity" argument is only a way to pursue a political agenda -- nothing more.
3.23.2007 3:36pm
hey (mail):
It should be noted that Bob Jones isn't segregated, but that it did forbid inter-racial dating until recently (which was why Bush was condemned for showing up there in 2000).

As for the whole idea of "diversity"... taking a look at the "diverse" campuses and you'll see that it's much more salad than soup. Even academically you'll find that schools are segregated by choice, with certain groups focusing on certain majors, with concentrations changing dramatically within faculties. Engineering is an excellent example, where civil and computer have very different ethnic makeups.

As for Penn... its non-sectarianism was sectarian, and is mirrored in non-sectarian colleges at Oxbridge.
3.23.2007 5:24pm
Toby:
Diversity must be enforced until everyone everywhere and all places become identical!
3.23.2007 6:17pm
whit:
"Ethnic discrimination is entirely unjustifiable (though I believe it should not be illegal for private parties), but cultural discrimination is. This is why a White school is not the same as a Black school. The former doesn't refer to a specific cultural heritage, just an ethnicity, while Black may refer to either. 'Jewish' definitely refers to a culture. Anyone may convert if they strongly wish to."



black culture is no more homogenous than white culture. frankly, i find this argument a laughable rationalization . all black colleges (or "traditionally black") are seen as acceptable because blacks are "oppressed-class" and all-white colleges are seen as bad because whites are the "oppressor class".

a black immigrant from the west indies has exactly what in common culturally with a black farmer's son from iowa or a black accountant's kid from queens? there is no specific "black cultural heritage". or are you saying that because the ancestors of (some) blacks currently in the US were once slaves, that this somehow makes a "culture"?

what he has in common, is the color of his skin, and maybe a genetic susceptibility to sickle cell anemia, but certainly not a common culture.

this is the CLASSIC double standard. it's ok to lump blacks into a "culture" cause that's empowering, but not whites.

i don't have any problem with (private) traditionally black colleges or (private) traditionally white universities.

i have a big problem with double standards.
3.23.2007 7:32pm
LogicCommie (mail):
I agree with Ilya, and as a corrolary Stanford and Harvard should return to their Christian roots, excluding non-Christians in the process.
3.24.2007 3:32am
neurodoc:
LogicCommie, I agree with Ilya, and as a corrolary Stanford and Harvard should return to their Christian roots, excluding non-Christians in the process.

When was Leland Stanford Junior University ever sectarian?

Brandeis has never excluded non-Jews. To the contrary, it has actively encouraged them to attend, something that no Ivy League school ever did for Jews.

But then you don't really agree with Ilya, do you, so we ought not take you or your "counterargument" seriously.
3.24.2007 1:46pm
Roger Sweeny (mail):
The same argument comes up in political ecology. Is diversity better served by mixing the species of the world so that places have more species, or should there be distinctive ecosystems with "exotic species" kept out?

Ironically, the people who passionately believe in keeping ecosystems pure are generally the same people who believe that distinctively religious colleges are immoral.
3.24.2007 8:54pm
LogicCommie (mail):
neurodoc: [Questions the Christian heritage of Stanford]

How do you explain the big church with the big mural of Jesus Christ and the Apostles in the middle of the campus? (And I wonder how long the ACLU has been itching to sue them to tear it down).

Actually, almost all the U.S. private universities in the top 20 elite are of Christian heritage. Their Christianity has been destroyed due to a very long campaign of secularization and cries of "discrimination". But since the U.S. is still an almost entirely Christian country, it shouldn't take much longer to reverse the trend and re-Christianize Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and so on just as Ilya wants to re-Judaize Brandeis.

"[Brandeis] actively encouraged [non-Jews to attend, something that no Ivy League school ever did for Jews."

This explains why Jews attend Ivy League schools far out of proportion of their population, natch.

By Ilya's philosophy, why should these Ivy League institutions have surrendered their Christian heritage to accomodate Jews and other non-Christians? Why would you complain about this history of discrimination when they were simply trying to preserve the Christian heritage of their institutions -- something that, at least in part due to admission of non-Christians, has now been lost? They simply practiced what Ilya is now advocating.

But you don't really agree with Ilya's logic, do you? Now that American education outside of Brandeis and a handful of much-derided and second- or third-tier Christians schools has been secularized and homogenized, so that our top Christian students no longer have an elite Christian university to go to, now is the time to switch the argument before Brandeis gets secularized and homogenized too.

I have expressed my willingness join y'all in advocating that Brandeis return to its Jewish roots if y'all are willing to advocate that most of the other elite private universities in the U.S. return to their Christian heritages.
3.26.2007 2:08am
JonC:

I have expressed my willingness join y'all in advocating that Brandeis return to its Jewish roots if y'all are willing to advocate that most of the other elite private universities in the U.S. return to their Christian heritages.


This, of course, misses Prof. Somin's point entirely. Re-read the last paragraph of Prof. Somin's post. Were "most [] other elite private universities in the U.S." to become explicitly Christian, that would substantially dilute the diversity across institutions that Prof. Somin supports.
3.26.2007 10:48am
JonC:
Furthermore, this comment:


This explains why Jews attend Ivy League schools far out of proportion of their population, natch.


suggests that you don't really know much about the history of anti-Jewish discrimination in higher education. Greater proportions of Jewish enrollment in top-tier schools is, historically speaking, a relatively recent 20th century development.
3.26.2007 10:51am
A.C.:
Does allowing a private school to have a distinct identity automatically discriminate against people who don't share that identity? I would say no, at least not unless there is actual discrimination in admission. A university is not a total environment, which is to say that a Catholic student at a Jewish university could perfectly well go to church off campus even if there were no Catholic religious services on campus. Why would a Catholic student attend such a school? He or she might want to work with a particular professor, perhaps even on some are of scripture that Catholics and Jews have in common. He or she might even be considering conversion. There are lots of possibilities.

The same would apply to a school that placed a lot of emphasis on Italian culture, or on the history of African Americans in the United States. (I agree that "white" is far too broad a category for this, and that "black" is rapidly becoming so due to immigration.) Not everybody at such a school would have to be Italian or African American, but students would have to be aware that the resources of the institution would be focused disproportionately on topics linked to specific groups. Which might be GREAT for a student of Chinese ancestry who wants to study Italian Renaissance art.
3.26.2007 11:00am