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Faculty Hiring Priorities at Colgate University:

Inside Higher Ed reports on Colgate's new approach to faculty hiring:

Which is more important — that a department have all of its disciplinary subfields represented or that it diversify its faculty? That's the question being posed at Colgate University in an attempt to change how hiring committees have considered questions of diversity — and posing the question may be having an impact.

Lyle Roelofs, dean of the faculty, has been asking the question. Roelofs said that individual departments make the hiring decisions — "departments know how to judge quality" — but that as part of broad discussions about diversity at the university, he has tried to suggest some new ideas. Traditionally, he said that there has been a broad consensus (even if no formal policy exists) that the top factor to consider in a faculty hire is excellence in teaching and research, followed by match of candidates with the subfield specialties needed, then followed by diversity concerns.

After a series of efforts, Colgate has seen the percentage of minority faculty members rise to about 20 percent, with the percentage of women topping 40 percent. But as a small liberal arts university in a rural setting, Colgate has a hard time holding on to minority professors — and so needs to keep hiring them as well as trying to encourage more of them to make their careers at the university. Roelofs has asked departments to flop the second and third criteria. Excellence will stay on top, but diversity would generally trump subfield choice.

"There are going to be appropriate gains for us if we can be more diverse," Roelofs said. "When you have a more diverse faculty, there emerges a greater diversity in curriculum. Greater value is placed on difference. So why not think about each hire and say, 'in this situation are we better off thinking about how we need someone on 18th century reflection of Shakespeare, or have a broad description to maximize our opportunities on diversity?' "

Jeremy T:
Gosh, I guess we shouldn't judge people based on the content of their character but on the color of their skin.
5.2.2007 9:37pm
2L:
I, for one, judge my professors based on their skin color and hope that universities take that into account when hiring.
5.2.2007 9:39pm
BGates (www):
C'mon, guys. Nobody's saying skin color is all that matters. They also want to know if they're hiring somebody with breasts.
5.2.2007 9:43pm
HLSbertarian (mail):

When you have a more diverse faculty, there emerges a greater diversity in curriculum.


I love how this is somehow an argument for aiming for the former instead of the latter.
5.2.2007 9:56pm
anon252 (mail):
If "diverse" professors consistently find themselves miserable in small, rural upstate NY towns, why do colleges based in such towns want to go out of their way to recruit them so they can be miserable?
5.2.2007 10:00pm
KeithK (mail):
This policy is a logical decision when you consider diversity to be more important than scholarship. It's sad, but at least it's consistent.
5.2.2007 10:00pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
When you have a more diverse faculty, there emerges a greater diversity in curriculum.


Even when subfield specialization is sacrificed for diversity?
5.2.2007 10:05pm
UW1L:
Speaking as a minority graduate of a small liberal arts college in a rural setting: It's not just about retaining faculty - it's about retaining students as well. A student is, I'm guessing, unlikely to transfer because there are no faculty who specialize in 18th-century views on Shakespeare. But minority students do transfer if they feel marginalized by their institution, seeing too few faces like theirs among their fellow students and among the faculty, feeling that "their type" is not wanted or valued there. You can lose some great students that way. On the other hand, minority prospectives - students and faculty - will notice if they see a more diverse range of faces when they visit a university, and that's a factor that does weigh into the choice they ultimately make of where to go to learn or teach. And anyway, there's something to be said for the perspective a minority faculty member brings to his/her subfield - this "diversity of curriculum." 18th-century reflections on Shakespeare? How about a black male professor's reflections on, say, Othello? Or a lesbian perspective on No Exit? A diverse faculty and student body benefits the university community's brains; it's not just a boon for photo shoots for the school's promotional literature.
5.2.2007 10:09pm
neurodoc:
"Diversity," something like the proverbial camel that got its nose into the tent sometime ago (about 20 years?) and now has insinuated all but its tail inside.

(BGates, males have breasts too, of course, though usually not as prominent as those of females of the species. Should Colgate specifies some minimal breast dimensions to ensure the intended advantaging of those with the XX combination over those with the XY combination? But then how should the school go about excluding males with gynecomastia, e.g., those born XXY and those transgendered XY taking estrogens, or should they favor these potential hires too in the interests of "diversity"?

One must be fairly precise with affirmative action programs. About 25 years ago, the Montgomery County (Maryland) government establish an affirmative action policy of hiring those with Hispanic surnames. Someone legally changed their Anglo name from something like "Lane" to "Leon," then applied. The county gave him the job, but then specified only those of Hispanic origins were to be advantaged.)
5.2.2007 10:19pm
Dr. T (mail) (www):
I think UW1L is wrong: If I want to be a philosophy major and have a special interest in 20th century British philosophers, but the school has no one teaching that subtopic, then I don't care how much racial, ethnic, gender, and religious diversity exists among the faculty. If the faculty cannot teach me what I want to learn, then faculty diversity is irrelevant.
5.2.2007 10:22pm
K Parker (mail):
UW1L,

I think any careful consideration of the matter would have the black male English professor rightly offended that he would be specifically sought out to give his views on Othello more so than for the rest of Shakespeare's corpus. I mean, I'm 1/4 Scandinavian--so am I supposed to have special insight into Ibsen? Well, I don't...
5.2.2007 10:26pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
Dr. T is most likely a white male and as is often typical, fails to recognize white privilege. Of course you can say that race doesn't matter, since you are rarely in a situation where you are completely surrounded by people who do not share your race and thus the common experiences that this implies.

In a highly ideological world where subjectivity matters a lot (i.e. especially the humanities and social sciences), it is very helpful to have at least some people who share similar experiences, even while others bring something else to the table. One thing that can stifle conversation is a sense of isolation, where one who speaks up feels as though they are a lone voice in the wilderness, and perhaps from another planet, as their concerns and views are not truly understood or appreciated.

Like it or not, faculty diversity is something many talented minority students will want. A school that does not consider this will not be able to recruit the best students.

UW1L - well said.
5.2.2007 10:33pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
K Parker,

That one is sought for their views on a particular subject does not imply that their views on other subjects are not valued. If you don't want to talk about Isben, then I say politely refuse when someone asks.
5.2.2007 10:35pm
MatthewM (mail):
Wow, Viscus, invoking "white privilege," whatever that is. But how about this thought -- there are many kinds of "diversity," but for some reason only diversity of skin color seems to be important to you. You don't care if hires are diverse religiously, politically, ethnically, or regionally, beyond empty rhetoric, as opposed to rigid and enforced quotas and set-asides, which are implemented to expand racial and (to some extent) gender "diversity." You should 'fess up and acknowledge that you care nothing for "diversity," per se (other than as a very nifty propoganda tool), and straightforwardly proclaim that you simply want more blacks, latinos, or whatever particular race you favor most, simply because you think they are better than others.
5.2.2007 10:44pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
C'mon, guys. Nobody's saying skin color is all that matters. They also want to know if they're hiring somebody with breasts.

OK, that part I can understand. It's the rest of the diversity promotion that I have problems with.

Just how much minority DNA must a person have to qualify? I'm 1/8 Indian. As I recall, under the segregation laws a person who was 1/72 black was legally black, so does that mean I'm not only Indian but very Indian?

On the other hand, I would hardly make a full-blood comfortable at having a fellow on the faculty, since (being bald, bearded, and no darker skinned than most Arizonans) I don't really look the part.
5.2.2007 10:45pm
Steve:
If "diverse" professors consistently find themselves miserable in small, rural upstate NY towns, why do colleges based in such towns want to go out of their way to recruit them so they can be miserable?

Because they wouldn't find themselves miserable if they weren't the only "diverse" face in town. Talk to anyone who's been the only black associate at a law firm, or the only female associate. It's difficult.

It's true, in the hypothetical colorblind world to which we all aspire, no one would ever have to think, "Should we recruit more black associates so no one has to feel isolated as the sole black associate?" Because in the hypothetical colorblind world, we wouldn't have a bunch of law firms with only one black associate.
5.2.2007 10:49pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
MatthewM,

No one in there right mind supports diversity in all forms. I wouldn't support child molesters as day care workers, even though surely this would increase the "diversity" of such workers with respect to their criminal tendencies towards children. One does not need to support all forms of diversity in order to support "diversity" in the sense that the word is usually spoken.


"white privilege," whatever that is


One thing about "white privilege" is that it is often taken for granted by those who have it. Kind of like I take for granted the fact that I will be able to eat breakfast in the morning, living in America.
5.2.2007 10:51pm
FantasiaWHT:
UW1L, isn't it racist or at least stereotyping to assume that because someone is black they are going to have a different perspective?

And to my own point, why is diversity of skin color more important to academia than diversity of subfield specialization?

People have GOT to stop focusing on a single facet of diversity and, if they really feel diversity is a compelling goal, aim for a broad-spectrum diversity
5.2.2007 10:52pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It will seem strange, I know, to find that Aubrey has read "An Actor Prepares" by Stanislavski. He (Stanislavski) recounts trying to get a student to "act like" Othello. The student strode about trying to affect a tigerish, savage mien.
Stash told him that Othello was a Moor, not a subSaharan African. At that time, says Stash, not exactly correctly, the Moors were one of the most sophisticated peoples in the Mediterranean Basin. Therefore, Othello would be smooth, courteous, mannered, and educated. Also forceful. Despite being a mercenary commander.
Whichever O was, how on earth could a twenty-first century African-American have a clue about him? All we would know is what the prof thought about having an African--Moorish--character in a play. That would be nice in what is referred to as Angry Studies, but hardly relevant in a class in Shakespeare.
It would be as if I were, on account of having been a grunt in the last century, to opine on Julius Caesar, who, unlike Othello, actually existed.
5.2.2007 11:05pm
Montie (mail):
From the same article:

An emphasis on subfield discipline, he said, "sounds legitimate and historically persuasive," but can be "an excuse." The purpose of having subfield representation is to have a certain breadth in a department, he said. So is the purpose of having a diverse faculty, so why should the former be presumed to be more important?


I am going out on a limb here. However, I suspect that it might be nice to have someone around with the expertise to teach the classes in a given subfield.
5.2.2007 11:09pm
RainerK:
Viscus, you know that your take on white male privilege is a really convenient discussion stopper? Nothing more to say. It's kind of intuitively self-evident, isn't it? Not!

If I studied Sinology, I suspect I might get better insights from a prof who actually grew up and was educated in China. Most likely that prof is going to be Chinese. What if I studied Polish? If the teacher is a Pole, most likely a white person, right?
But if I were studying Math or any other hard science, I don't give a hoot about the personal experiences or ethnicity of the teacher as long as the teacher can teach. If my comfort level is of utmost importance to me, I guess I'd have to go where it is met instead of demanding personal accomodation as a right.
5.2.2007 11:27pm
Steve:
If the pool of potential black faculty is limited, and of course it is, then the fact that Colgate hires a black faculty member just takes one away from another school, leaving fewer black faces there.

Are you saying that every employable individual already has a job? I'm not following this argument.
5.2.2007 11:40pm
Captain Ned:
Well, Colgate will be losing the chance for a fourth-generation student if this crap keeps up.

As for minority hires feeling out of place, nothing will change that at Colgate unless the whole school is swooped up and plunked down somewhere urban. I grew up (and still live) in rural Vermont and even I found Hamilton, NY to be nowheresville.
5.2.2007 11:41pm
Justin (mail):
They should look at minorities who golf. Playing Seven Oaks on a regular basis will keep people from missing the city too much.

Note: Colgate is a teaching college. It would be competing with other teaching colleges. It's not really competing with UCLA so much as Haverford. And there aren't *that* many urban teaching colleges out there.

And while I don't think a place like Colgate can or should "look like America" (though it could afford to be less a privileged playground than it is now, regardless of skin color), at some point diversity *is* important. I have family who went to Colgate, and some of the people there could *REALLY* use some exposure to how "the other half" lives.

Colgate only trails Vanderbilt in terms of parent's per capita income, and that's not a title that colleges should be trying too hard to win.
5.2.2007 11:44pm
Justin (mail):
Captain Ned, the school could afford to lose more than a few fourth generation students. Talk about the blindness of privilege, btw.
5.2.2007 11:47pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
RainerK. They're not talking about getting a person born of Chinese parents in China, raised in China, and educated in China. They're talking about getting somebody, anybody, with slanty eyes. The likelihood that the person in question knows jack is secondary.
5.2.2007 11:50pm
Ak:
"It will take time to see the impact of the philosophy being tried at Colgate, but the early results are encouraging to Roelofs — especially since the discussions of this issue started after the search processes for the year had started. Colgate has been working on 16 searches for tenure-track jobs. In a typical year, that would have mean 3 or 4 non-white faculty members would be hired. So far this year, 15 searches have been completed, with 7 of the positions going to scholars who are not white."

It's sad that this is what higher education has come to. Bragging that so far this year you've hired fewer white people. Congratulations, I suggest putting it in big banner font on the alumni donation solicitations.
5.2.2007 11:52pm
UW1L:
While I admit feeling sheepish (har!) given the points that have been made concerning my Othello example (What, no protests over my parallel comment about lesbians reading No Exit?), I'm not sure it's racist to assume that someone who is black, Latino/a, etc., is going to have a different perspective on an issue that has a racial component, be it Shakespeare or government response to Katrina or (apparently) abortion, than a white person would. In fact I'm wary of assuming the opposite, eliding the possibility of a different viewpoint out of fear of being called racist for acknowledging such might exist. Race, sex, gender, sexuality, class, all permeate our viewpoints, and I find it useful to hear from people who aren't the same as I am. (Whether they find my nattering useful, well, I don't know!)

Dr. T: This is true, though I wonder how many students just entering college, 17 or 18 years old, have that specific a subtopic in mind. Hell, a lot of kids enter college without even knowing what major they want. I suppose it's more of an issue at the graduate level. (Colgate is indeed a university; my alma mater, which otherwise sounds similar to Colgate and which informs my viewpoint here, is undergrad only.)

The assumption here (and I've taken part in it) seems to be that you can't have a diverse faculty member who's also a specialist in the subfield you need. (I guess minorities all major in $Minority Studies, which is why there are no black professors of IP law, or women writing textbooks about network security.) It reminds me of the joke we used to tell in high school: "Q. For college applications, is it better to get a B in an AP course, or an A in a non-AP course? A. It's better to get an A in an AP course."
5.3.2007 12:00am
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
Like it or not, faculty diversity is something many talented minority students will want. A school that does not consider this will not be able to recruit the best students.

I wonder--once a university decides it's okay to try to boost its popularity by catering to the racial tastes of its prospective students, will its most effective strategy be to try to entice talented-but-insecure minority students by comforting them with more minority faculty, or to try to entice talented-but-intolerant non-minority students by effectively barring minority faculty? And do you really want to encourage universities to adopt the former strategy, knowing that you're implicitly (re-)opening the door to the latter one?
5.3.2007 12:03am
JorgXMcKie (mail):
Why not just forego academic credentials altogether? Just hire a bunch of people who are diversity-balanced (whatever the heck that might mean) and pay them to be called Professor. Don't make them teach. Let them hang out and be seen by students. For a school with a large endowment (which I'm guessing Colgate has), this would be a win/win, wouldn't it?
5.3.2007 12:32am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
My wife and I were on a plane to New York City recently. We discovered that the young man in the seat next to us was working on his PhD at CUNY, and was teaching philosophy and English composition while working his way through school. We had a very lively, very thought provoking conversation that crossed a wide range of fields: literature (because that's what my wife teaches at Boise State); philosophy (because he was skeptical of how identity politics has subverted the notion of universal truth); history (because of my new book that I was going to New York to promote); and the prospects for democracy in Iraq (he was skeptical, although he seemed to accept that the intentions behind the war were good).

Not a very diverse conversation we had, right? A desperate need for more diversity, right? He's Puerto Rican. He's dark enough that at first I thought he was black. Yet in most respects, he had far more in common philosophically and intellectually with my wife and I than most of the very white academics who my wife and I know.

This assumption that race, sex, or ethnicity are the only things that matter should be called for what it is: prejudice. If diversity really matters, it should be with respect to what people think and believe. But there's no way in the world that universities in the U.S. are going to start trying to get faculties that think like America: 35% fundamentalist Christians, 45% Republicans, 98% straight, 80% believers in God (of some sort).
5.3.2007 12:52am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
This thread shows, that being racist scum can be respectable, if you are racist against the right people, namely whites.

Feeling a little too privileged, white boy? Come here on to this thread and have your views dismissed solely on the basis of your perceived skin color. That'll fix your wagon, because we don't appreciate your kind 'round here.

How deep into the pathos do you have to be, to be mentally incapable of doing a simple race-inversion, reading your own rhetoric, and seeing the obvious bigotry? While presuming to lecture others on the subject? The mind boggles.
5.3.2007 1:30am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I wonder--once a university decides it's okay to try to boost its popularity by catering to the racial tastes of its prospective students, will its most effective strategy be to try to entice talented-but-insecure minority students by comforting them with more minority faculty, or to try to entice talented-but-intolerant non-minority students by effectively barring minority faculty?
Part of what this dichotomy incorrect is that enticing "talented-but-intolerant" whites is going to get you, what? Maybe 1/2 of 1% of the potential students?

There is still racism in America. But the amount of "traditional" racism seems to have diminished to the point where it is far exceeded by Politically Correct racism.
5.3.2007 1:48am
BCEagle21:
Just a few things to note:

1. White priviledge doesn't exist in academia. Quite to the contrary. The White Male has been heavily relegated and burdened by affirmative action (see the many references above). One has to have far superior grades, scores, activities, etc. to be accepted into any level of university program than a minority candidate. My question, as a white male, is why do I have to put up with this? Shouldn't academia be done entirely by merit, and shouldn't this extend to the hiring of professors?

2. When I entered college, my school did not have the ancient history or high-medieval sub-fields represented in our History department. I was disappointed. I ultimately supplemented my education by taking courses in those areas at another local university during the summer. They have since remedied the problem, and I remember the faculty deliberations: race wasn't an issue, the field was. So yes, sub-fields do matter more than you think. Maybe it is because my school was not as obsessed with diversity as other schools (it was something to be desired, yes, but not to the detriment of other valuable factors). These days it seems with most universities the end game is "how many minorities can we hire to make ourselves look good?"
5.3.2007 1:50am
Keith B (mail):
My daughter is just completing her freshman year at Colgate. She is terrifically happy there having chosen Colgate from many great schools she had the opportunity to attend. Regardless of whether diversity trumps subfield or the other way around, excellence still is the number one criteria in determining new faculty hires. As such, and based on my daughter's first year experience, I believe Colgate is approaching their faculty hiring in a way consistent with what I was looking for in a post high school education for her. I commend their excellence!
5.3.2007 1:51am
Fat Man (mail):
Better Red than Expert.
5.3.2007 2:50am
David M. Nieporent (www):
The assumption here (and I've taken part in it) seems to be that you can't have a diverse faculty member who's also a specialist in the subfield you need.
That's not the assumption "here." That's the assumption at Colgate -- the entire premise of the policy we're discussing. The Dean said that the two are not compatible, and he'd prefer that the school look like a United Colors of Benetton ad than that it have a diverse faculty.
5.3.2007 2:51am
Guest12345:
UW1L, If a black man in the twenty-first century has a different perspective on literature nearly four hundred years old, then the subject isn't Shakespeare. It's being black in the twenty-first century. If I was supposed to be studying Shakespeare and what I got was race relations in the twenty-first century, I'd be pretty peeved.
5.3.2007 3:33am
ras (mail):
I suppose that if I needed neurosurgey and my choice were a subfield medical specialist (i.e. a neurosurgeon) vs a diversity hire (e.g. a transgendered grad student in opthamology) I would have to think long &hard. Tough choice, tough choice.
5.3.2007 4:12am
Extraneus (mail):
Knowing what we do about how these things work -- and this thread is only a glimpse into a very entrenched system -- would it be bigotry to shy away from a black neurosurgeon, or just a wise probability calculation?
5.3.2007 7:04am
Cato Renasci (mail):
As one who has was an undergraduate at a small liberal arts college (the Virginia Military Institute) and a graduate and then law student at major research universities, I find the notion of placing diversity over 'subfields' appalling.

For the most part, students contemplating colleges, and even selecting their majors early one, don't carefully go through the college catalogue to see how broadly the English or History or Math departments cover the field - both because they don't know enough about the fields to know what really good coverage is, and simply because they're not that sure what they want to study (and even if they are, they'll probably end up changing majors at least once).

There are few things more frustrating, as a student after coming to a college, or upon selecting a major, to find that important areas in your field of study are not offered (or covered inadequately) at your liberal arts college. By necessity, at a small liberal arts college the coverage of subfields will be limited, which makes it all the more critical that the most significant ones be covered adequately. Imagine an English department which hires an distinguished African literature specialist (who has taken no Shakespeare since most colleges no longer require it), but has no one with even a serious journeyman expertise in Shakespeare? Sorry, but I think that department is failing its students. It is incredibly frustrating as a student becoming interested in a field, or changing majors, to find that important areas are not covered by your department, or worse, that courses listed in the catalog (creating a reasonable expectation they would be available) are not being offered because the new hire isn't competent in the area.

Further to Viscus (as in slippery slope?) and UW1L: the entire notion of white privilege is risible nonsense and raising it is a discussion simply demonstrates that you have no arguments worthy of the name. It's a show stopper because those who take it seriously think it explains everything they don't like, and everyone else rolls their eyes. Thank God I got an education in history, philosophy, economics, mathematics and the law before academia left the classical liberal Western tradition for the realms of overt politicization and excessive concern for feeling and process!
5.3.2007 8:11am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Extraneus makes a point that is also made by Thomas Sowell and many other observers of race and gender discrimination policies. Policies that super-ordinate skin color or gender for merit makes minorities or women suspect in the market place. Just as Jessie Jackson would prefer to be followed by a group of white rather than black guys in a dark street at night, race based decision making like that practiced widely in American society places the actual qualifications of women and minorities into question. The issue then becomes, if I look for a lawyer, doctor, engineer or teacher the suspicion that the woman or minority will be less capable than their white male alternative is always there. The effect is that "affirmative action" demotes the credentials of women and minorities.
5.3.2007 8:12am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Viscus said:

"One does not need to support all forms of diversity in order to support "diversity" in the sense that the word is usually spoken."


That's one of those telling statements that need to be underlined. The assumption that "diversity" is once and forever defined by race and gender. That may be the way that the thought police in academia have defined it, but it's so incredibly self-serving, racist, sexist and obnoxious that I'm rather glad you said it.

Thank you.
5.3.2007 8:21am
Jim Levy (mail):
Colgate sounds like many of the increasingly marginalized and academically declining left-wing Liberal Arts colleges.

As a geology student way back, I always wanted to know what a transgendered black quadriplegic's take on my field of study. That would sinply infuse my future field of study with meaningful information that would allow me to provide a secure future for my own children. And don't hardworking parents want their kids to graduate with a remotely useful (and increasingly expensive) degree?

PC "Diversity" is always about the opposite of true diversity. And the constant imploring to "Celebrate Diversity" - at all costs - is always a lot easier than having the students actually learn something useful.
5.3.2007 8:53am
Cato Renasci (mail):
Moneyrunner 43:

Given that Viscus wrote earlier
In a highly ideological world where subjectivity matters a lot (i.e. especially the humanities and social sciences),


when (s)he says:
One does not need to support all forms of diversity in order to support "diversity" in the sense that the word is usually spoken.



(s)he's not so much arguing for an alternative more inclusive, comprehensive understanding of diversity, as special pleading for the form of diversity (s)he favors. Viscus' point is that (s)he does not need to support any other form diversity.

The notion that we all bring our worldviews and philsophical assumptions to our work (academic or otherwise) is unexceptionable and even trivial.

In no sense does that fact entail the conclusion especially rife these days in the humanities and social sciences (except perhaps economics which has become rather mathematical) that one should expressly embrace ones philosophical and political view as providing the appropriate agenda which one's academic work should be devoted to achieving. That way madness, "truthiness" and the destruction of the great achievements of human civilzation.

I fear that we have truly lost an entire generation of scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and are in serious danger of losing at least one and perhaps two more generations of scholars. When sanity returns in fifty or a hundred years, something like 80-90% of the work in the humanities and social sciences in America and Europe in the last quarter of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st will be regarded as as useless as Nazi or Soviet work in those fields now is. Come the day!
5.3.2007 9:00am
Qwinn:
Personally, I've never understood what the supposed value of "diversity" is in the first place. What makes "diversity" as practiced by the Left a positive that does not come with all the negatives associated with "Balkanization"?

When I was a kid, the mantra was "United we Stand, Divided we Fall". Now it's "United is Evil, Divided is Good". I'd be surprised by all this if I didn't notice a long long time ago that the empirical objective of the Left is to in fact see the United States fall, and they're attempting to bring it about via the same method that brought down their beloved Soviet Union.

Qwinn
5.3.2007 9:08am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Guest12345.
And while you're getting race in the twenty-first century, the money you paid for the credit hours to learn Shakespeare is going down the shredder.
Untruth in advertising.
Colgate should do as many universities have done. Hire their perpetually angry, semi-competent, "diverse", professors and put them in a "Studies" department. Womyn's studies, Queer studies, africana studies, latino studies, asian studies, and so forth. Unfortunately, most universities who do this require students to take courses from this department. They ought to make all the courses offered elective.
5.3.2007 9:21am
Jeek:
minority students do transfer if they feel marginalized by their institution, seeing too few faces like theirs among their fellow students and among the faculty, feeling that "their type" is not wanted or valued there. You can lose some great students that way.

The ones you will lose are the racists. Good riddance!

When you have a more diverse faculty, there emerges a greater diversity in curriculum.

I just love the overt racism of this statement. "A more diverse faculty leads to a more diverse curriculum" - because all whites and all blacks and all Asians think alike, right? You could never have a more diverse curriculum by encouraging, say, intellectual diversity instead of racial diversity.

There are going to be appropriate gains for us if we can be more diverse

What are these gains, who obtains these gains, how can they be quantified, and why are they "appropriate"?

Ah well, who care what is taught, just so long as we have a gorgeous rainbow of blacks, browns, yellows, reds, lesbians, gays, and women all sitting in a row.
5.3.2007 9:25am
Jeek:
Colgate sounds like many of the increasingly marginalized and academically declining left-wing Liberal Arts colleges.

Marginalized? Liberal Arts colleges are completely dominated by left-wing nitwits. Tell me, where are the non-leftist Liberal Arts colleges that are not controlled by the PC crowd?
5.3.2007 9:29am
Justin (mail):
Colgate, in a relative sense, is hardly "left-wing." The running joke is its Dartmouth's safety school.

Oh and,

"Further to Viscus (as in slippery slope?) and UW1L: the entire notion of white privilege is risible nonsense and raising it is a discussion simply demonstrates that you have no arguments worthy of the name. It's a show stopper because those who take it seriously think it explains everything they don't like, and everyone else rolls their eyes. Thank God I got an education in history, philosophy, economics, mathematics and the law before academia left the classical liberal Western tradition for the realms of overt politicization and excessive concern for feeling and process!"

Unintentional humor award winner.
5.3.2007 9:44am
howard (mail):
Wouldn't a simpler way to achieve faculty diversity be for elite academic journals to adopt racial and gender quotas for authorship of published articles. Does anyone know of a journal that has this policy?
5.3.2007 10:23am
JohnK (mail):
My roommate from college is a post doctorate PHD in ancient philosophy. He has been teaching in a non-tenure position at a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. He has done all of the right things. He has published, gotten rave reviews from his students and nothing but top marks in his evaluations by the head of the department. He only made one mistake; he was born a white male. The position recently became a tenured position. My friend interviewed twice and was told by the head of the department that if he were only a woman or a minority it would be a slam dunk. They offered the job to three women and one minority, all of whom turned the job down. It is a small school in rural Wisconsin, so they have the same recruiting problems that Cornell has. Meanwhile my friend got a post-Doc at Tulane and is moving on. I am sure the school will get someone who is minority or female to fill the position. Whether they can find someone of the right skintone or sex who is also as qualified or as good of a hire as my friend would seem doubtful at this point. But, hey, the students will know that they have a "diverse" faculty. Doesn't that make up for an inferior education?
5.3.2007 10:30am
Ken Arromdee:
One does not need to support all forms of diversity in order to support "diversity" in the sense that the word is usually spoken.

This is literally true, but false the way you're using it. It's true that your description doesn't demand diversity that includes pedophiles. But it *would* demand including, say, Republicans or Jews or Fundamentalist Christians or Polish people. After all, your justification is that you need diverse viewpoints. Such groups provide them.
5.3.2007 10:31am
Andy Freeman (mail):
>> If the pool of potential black faculty is limited, and of course it is,

>Are you saying that every employable individual already has a job?

There are fewer blacks than whites in the US. If a critical mass requires a greater percentage, achieving it requires either lower standards or that blacks somehow be better.

Perhaps someone will tell us which fields that blacks naturally excel at. If that list is non-empty, are there things that they (on average) don't do as well? Or, like the folks of Lake Woebegon, are they above average?
5.3.2007 10:35am
JohnK (mail):
Frankly, I think that a lot of white fans will feel alienated and turn away from professional sports if they don't see enough people who look like them. If we are going to have affirmative action in education, we need it in sports to. Lets stop drafting African American players in the NBA for the next four or five years so the league "looks like America". The black players who don't get drafted can then be hired by the NHL so that black fans don't feel alienated from it. Such a system would be no less insane than what is going on in higher education right now. But, I guess we couldn't indulge ourselves in something as important as professional sports.
5.3.2007 11:00am
Prufrock765 (mail):
While the defenders of diversity/quotas have quieted down somewhat, I would very much like to ask any of them to, after they are done with the talking points on white privilege, answer this question:

Should Reed College or Oberlin College (to pick just two from a vast array of far left liberal arts colleges) be concerned that a moderate conservative student at their school in the humanities or social sciences might attend for four years and not only not meet any faculty members who think as he, the student, does, but moreover, hear his political principles excoriated at nearly every opportunity?
5.3.2007 11:14am
p. rich (mail) (www):
"A diverse faculty and student body benefits the university community's brains."

Presupposing there is not a lower standard allowed in order to meet "diversity quotas." And "brains" is not the purpose behind diversity hiring in the first place. In fact, diversity is commonly the nebulous "reason" given for hiring substandard faculty and squirreling them away in the Angry Studies Department.

"Like it or not, faculty diversity is something many talented minority students will want."

Why? Seems to me truly talented minority students would want the best education available, not the most politically correct. And "best education available" is not measured by a skin-color ratio.
5.3.2007 11:22am
JohnK (mail):
"Should Reed College or Oberlin College (to pick just two from a vast array of far left liberal arts colleges) be concerned that a moderate conservative student at their school in the humanities or social sciences might attend for four years and not only not meet any faculty members who think as he, the student, does, but moreover, hear his political principles excoriated at nearly every opportunity?"


No absolutely not. In the left's view the person in your example has no right to hold those views and no right to express them. They are hate speech. The entire purpose of the University is to endoctrinate the student in your example to the right way of thinking. The University is certainly not there to provide him with any sort of forum to express such repugnant and ignorant views.
5.3.2007 11:25am
JohnK (mail):
"Like it or not, faculty diversity is something many talented minority students will want."

That is an amazingly racist and degrading statement. Imagine if a white student said that he couldn't learn anything from a minority faculty, no matter how qualified, because they didn't look like him. The student in that example would be rightly considered a racist bigot. The minority student who demands a certain proportion of minority faculty regardless of qualifications would not be the same?
5.3.2007 11:30am
Jeek:
The entire purpose of the University is to indoctrinate the student

Speaking of which...


Inquiry or Indoctrination?

Let's face it: Comp 101 doesn't tend to be the most controversial of courses. But at the University of California at San Diego, a campaign officially begun last month to alter a required freshman writing and social science curriculum has already claimed two casualties.

Benjamin Balthaser and Scott Boehm, two graduate teaching assistants who have led the campaign to restore the year-long Dimensions of Culture sequence to what they say is its original form, have not been re-hired for the upcoming academic year — a circumstance all parties agree is attributable to their efforts to change the curriculum from within.

The graduate students charge that the year-long course sequence designed in the early 1990s to "challenge hegemonic assumptions about race, class, gender and sexuality" has lost its coherence as the program has been watered down into "a form of uncritical patriotic education that fails to interrogate the injustice integral to the founding of the U.S. and the current state of U.S. society." A coalition of 15 to 20 graduate and undergraduate students presented a list of grievances and demands — including the development of a faculty and student advisory committee — to the administration late last month after what its leaders characterize as unsuccessful negotiations earlier in the academic year.

In turn, the program's administrator says that he is resisting efforts "to turn this into a program of political indoctrination"...


Suuuuuuure he is.
5.3.2007 12:07pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

My roommate from college is a post doctorate PHD in ancient philosophy. He has been teaching in a non-tenure position at a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. He has done all of the right things. He has published, gotten rave reviews from his students and nothing but top marks in his evaluations by the head of the department. He only made one mistake; he was born a white male. The position recently became a tenured position. My friend interviewed twice and was told by the head of the department that if he were only a woman or a minority it would be a slam dunk. They offered the job to three women and one minority, all of whom turned the job down.
A few years back, I completed my BA in History. I had a 3.7 GPA--not great, but completing a minor in computer science brought my grades down a bit, as did having taken calculus, back before I changed majors. On the GRE History exam, I scored 91st percentile on the World History part, and 99th percentile on the American History (which was my specialization). By the time I received my BA, my second book was in print (which has since beeen cited as an authority in a federal district court decision and a Rhode Island Supreme Court decision). I had a referred journal article published, and I thought, "Hey, grad schools will be very interested in me, right?"

The only grad school that was interested was where I received my BA. I tried to find out from the places that rejected me in what way I was deficient. Did the successful applicants have four or five books already published? Did they have higher GPAs? I found it hard to believe that they had higher GRE scores. I never could get could an answer. I am increasingly inclined to think I didn't pass the diversity test.

One of these days, the fierce racism and hatred of the academic community is going to be either thrown overboard, or they will have their public funding cut off. I just doubt that it will happen in my lifetime.
5.3.2007 12:12pm
Chester White (mail):

Has any college or university EVER ONCE said to itself that its faculty is underrepresented in the categories of whites, males, heterosexuals, conservatives, Republicans, or religious people?

EVER ONCE, ANYWHERE?

Because they ALL WITHOUT FAIL are deficient in each of those categories, so far as I can see.

That is the key point to me. Diversity to them is a bunch of people who look different but all think EXACTLY the same.

Which is why my Ivy League alma mater will never get a dime from me.
5.3.2007 12:53pm
Guest12345:
PC "Diversity" is always about the opposite of true diversity. And the constant imploring to "Celebrate Diversity" - at all costs - is always a lot easier than having the students actually learn something useful.


Agreed. As wel as diversity is meaningless if you don't have a periodic culling that eliminates the diversifications that are unsuccessful.
5.3.2007 1:13pm
A law unto himself:
Jeek (8:29):

HILLSDALE

Traditional Liberal Arts
5.3.2007 1:22pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

I'm sorry but if you're a student and you're basing whether or not to attend a particular college because there are or are not sufficient number of people who are of your particular ethnic background then ... you're a fool.
5.3.2007 1:57pm
Ray Fuller (mail):
It is always unfortunate to hear, not passion, not eloquence, but pure ranting and raving when the subject of affirmative action arises now, especially in the context of college education. I am a graduate of Colgate University, and attended when it was still an all-male college in the '60's. I remember the same reaction to the female sex integration then as I still hear now about racial (read "black") integration. I am not sure that minds can be persuaded with mere words. My visceral reaction then was that coeducation would be a good thing: colleges should reflect the "real world". I think that subsequent undergraduate experiences have born that out. I regret not having had the opportunity to attend either a "feminized" college or law school. My learning and living experiences as a student would have been the better for it, at least, and perhaps my human development would have benefitted then. I believe the same principle applies to the attendance of under-represented minorities as students, and to their hiring as teachers. Unfortunately, too many argue that "merit" should be the sole criteria for admission of students or the hiring of professors. "Merit" is truly in the eye of the beholder. Test scores or grades or other "objective" measures really do not measure the worth or promise of a human being, and all too often tend to reflect the class and ethnicity of the person being measured. I loved most of my all-male faculty at Colgate, and I trust the college to hire new female and minority teachers, along with their male, white counterparts, whom I would find as a student just as capable and inspiring today. I did not enjoy the student life then, though, because it was dominated by a student elite composed exclusively of males from what I considered to be upper class economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Colgate must be a better place to matriculate nowadays, just because it better reflects American society. The American social experiment is not about meritocracy, but about egalitarian opportunity. Dewey argued that the American system of public education, mandatory but open to all, was the hallmark of our democratic culture. The demand for school vouchers reflects the belief in meritocracy, not in democracy. It is part of the anti-affirmative action thread. This should be a debate too important to be polarized, politicized and bastardized, as it has been here.
5.3.2007 2:11pm
Jeek:
I regret not having had the opportunity to attend either a "feminized" college or law school.

So how do you think the presence of female law students would have improved your knowledge of the law?

Test scores or grades or other "objective" measures really do not measure the worth or promise of a human being, and all too often tend to reflect the class and ethnicity of the person being measured.

Well gee, do I want a professor who is a leading expert on the subject being taught, or do I want a professor who is a "worthwhile, promising human being"? As a student, should my admission be based on my ability to do the work, or on how worthwhile and promising a human being I am? How can the latter be measured? Are you prepared to tell me that skin color increases one's "worth" and "promise"? Why is a white male with superior test scores and grades less "worthy and promising" than a black female with inferior test scores and grades?

Colgate must be a better place to matriculate nowadays, just because it better reflects American society.

Yeah, who cares if it actually teaches anything, just so long as it "better reflects American society".

The American social experiment is not about meritocracy, but about egalitarian opportunity.

Egalitarian opportunity is not inconsistent with meritocracy. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to compete, but this does not and should not mean that everyone will win the competition.

If the "American social experiment" now requires admitting the unqualified to teach and to learn at educational institutions, then the "American social experiment" is doomed.
5.3.2007 2:32pm
K Parker (mail):
Viscus,

I'm not sure I should make a token nod toward "poor reading skills" or just jump right to excoriating you for deliberately misconstruing my remarks. Either way, please note that I did not say whether or not I wanted to talk about Ibsen. What I did say was that it was preposterous to assume, simply because some of my ancestors lived on the north shore of the Baltic, that I would have any "special insight" into his work.

UW1L, speaking only for myself, the reason I neglected to comment on the lesbian/No Exit aspect is that I have never read the work.
5.3.2007 2:54pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
Ray Fuller:
You can not seriously contend that either:
1. There is an logical connection between opposing integration--that is favoring explicit barriers to the admission of a certain group, and opposing affirmative action which is opposing preferential treatment for applicants; or
2. "Merit" is a chimerical concept. Have you ever had to hire an associate or a secretary? How did you decide whom to hire? Hire a "personal worth" consultant to review the resumes?
5.3.2007 3:24pm
JohnK (mail):
Ray Fuller,

You are without doubt one of the most overtly racist people I have ever run into. The entire assumption of your post is that minority and female candidates could never be expected to compete against white male ones if only objective criterea like test scores and professional accomplishments were taken into account. Why is that? I guess because they are just inferior to white males like you and will always need a helping hand.
5.3.2007 4:25pm
CatoRenasci (mail):

... I am a graduate of Colgate University, and attended when it was still an all-male college in the '60's. ... I regret not having had the opportunity to attend either a "feminized" college or law school. My learning and living experiences as a student would have been the better for it, at least, and perhaps my human development would have benefitted then.

I believe the same principle applies to the attendance of under-represented minorities as students, and to their hiring as teachers. Unfortunately, too many argue that "merit" should be the sole criteria for admission of students or the hiring of professors. "....

I did not enjoy the student life then, though, because it was dominated by a student elite composed exclusively of males from what I considered to be upper class economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Colgate must be a better place to matriculate nowadays, just because it better reflects American society. The American social experiment is not about meritocracy, but about egalitarian opportunity. Dewey argued that the American system of public education, mandatory but open to all, was the hallmark of our democratic culture. The demand for school vouchers reflects the belief in meritocracy, not in democracy....


Oh, my! To take first things first, unless my memory serves me ill there were a large number of liberal arts colleges (not to mention great universities, both public and private) that were co-educational in the 1960s. Why ever did you to to an all-male college (and apparently then law school) if you thought viscerally that coeducation would be a good thing? Surely, you could surrounded yourself with a multitude of "Betty Co-eds" with very little effort and obtained those very benefits right then and there. And, if you didn't like it, why ever did you not transfer to a co-ed college?

Coeducation seems to me to be a choice: some people prefer single sex schools and some don't. Currently single sex education is out of fashion, except for the remaining women's colleges (including four of the seven sisters), but it will no doubt make a comeback. I would also point out that when most of the male colleges began taking women applicants, there was no shortage of applicants at least as qualified as the men. I think that's where the affirmative action/women admissions analogy breaks down: few people would object if colleges admitted minority applicants whose academic credentials were substantially similar to the 'majority' applicants.

"Merit" of course can mean many things, but in hiring faculty what it ought to mean is first of all scholarly attainment and teaching ability, in some proportion that will vary between research universities and undergraduate teaching colleges. At a teaching college, the faculty are hired to provide outstanding instruction to the students, not give them a taste of the 'real world.

In fact, the notion that the university (or a college) should reflect American society (or the 'real world') seems directly contradictory to the mission of the university as a a place where scholarship and reflection can flourish free from the pressures of ordinary working life. And, likewise, where students can learn in an environment where they will not be distracted overmuch from their studies. Oh, and have a bit of fun along the way.

Your comment about America not being about meritocracy, but democracy, and your reading of Dewey, suggests that you got little from your undergraduate education: America is about equality of opportunity, not equality of result. Not even the most diehard enemy of "affirmative action" wants to go to something akin to the Imperial Chinese Civil Service Examination or the French system of grand ecoles where everything in your future career depends on a high stakes exam. Vouchers then are about equality of opportunity. Equality of result leads one down the path to Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron - and I have a vision of Hillary Clinton as the Handicapper General....
5.3.2007 4:40pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
So, some commenters apparently think that if anyone even talks about the concept of "white privilege" they are racist?

I never said that "white privilege" is something you should feel guilty for having. However, it does exist. It is precisely why you are insensitive to the difficulties of being surrounded by people of entirely different backgrounds. Exposure to people of different backgrounds is of course healthy. But, it is also nice to be exposed to people with similar backgrounds. It makes a nice balance and bring about a richer intellectual environment. The reality is that some people are insecure. (I am not one of them.) And will not speak up without feeling that some people are likely to support them.

One interesting comment by Clayton Cramer suggests that we should get over the idea that race is all that matters. Well, if anyone has that idea, I agree, they should get over it. But you are just an ostrich with your head in the sand if you take the oppositve view and think it doesn't matter at all. How about a balanced view. Race matters, but it isn't the only thing that matters.

If you were a minority who experienced racial profiling (or had reason to suspect that you experienced it) it would be helpful to be able to discuss this with people with similar perspectives and experiences.

That is not only a defensible non-racist point of view, it is the only realistic and true point of view on this issue. Someone who has never even thought once that they might be the victim of racial profiling is going to have a different thought pattern with respect to that issue.
5.3.2007 5:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Viscus. A minority who thought he might have been subject to racial profiling. Nice. What do you think a diversity hire would say? Of course he was subject to racial profiling. He deserves compensation. Anybody who takes a different view should be dragged before the anti-hate-speech commission at the university and due process is an excuse for getting The Man off, another white privilege.
I know, I know. "You can't understand." Might be true. Might also mean you can't be expected to go along with the most far-fetched, paranoid analysis.
A diversity hire is different from a minority hire who is also as qualified as anybody else, AND THE LATTER IS THE ONE THE OFFENDED MINORITY SHOULD BE SPEAKING TO.
5.3.2007 5:40pm
Jeek:
Exposure to people of different backgrounds is of course healthy. But, it is also nice to be exposed to people with similar backgrounds. It makes a nice balance and bring about a richer intellectual environment.

This is constantly asserted. Has it ever been proven? Where is the evidence that graduates of "more diverse" schools have an intellectual advantage (or indeed, any other kind of advantage) over the graduates of "less diverse" schools?
5.3.2007 6:17pm
CatoRenasci (mail):
Jeek: I would think the richest intellectual environment would be the one with the best, most curious, and engaged minds populating it. Assuming you have nothing but first or second rate, very curious and engaged minds, ceterus paribus more diversity rather than less ought to be a good thing. The problem with a affirmative action, of course, is that ceterus non paribus - that is all other things are not equal when you bring in "diversity" hires who are not at the same level of competence, achievement, talent, intellectual curiousity and engagement in the life of the mind. That, I think, is where the objections lie and properly so.

I have never understood over the past 40 years why any minority with any self-respect would favor affirmative action as it is practiced: as it inevitably leads to devaluation of their degrees and a suspicion they have not met the same standards as everyone else either in admission or at college. A reflective person would prefer a system that provided remediation before the university level (e.g. at a community college) and brought people up to the university only if they were capable of meeting all standards - that would retain the value of the degree and remove the stigma that's grown over the years. I can remember when the assumption that black or hispanic graduates of good colleges (pre-1965) were smarter than most of their peers, and black faculty members were often the strongest guardians of high standards for everyone and especially for minority students.
5.3.2007 6:55pm
Enoch:
I would think the richest intellectual environment would be the one with the best, most curious, and engaged minds populating it. Assuming you have nothing but first or second rate, very curious and engaged minds, ceterus paribus more diversity rather than less ought to be a good thing.

Here you assume, but do not prove, that diversity provides some intellectual "value added". Why should we believe that if two groups have precisely the same levels of "competence, achievement, talent, intellectual curiousity and engagement in the life of the mind", but one is racially homogenous while the other is diverse, that the latter group will have any extra intellectual / academic firepower? You claim it "ought to"... and we've all been programmed to recite the mantra that "diversity is good"... but where's the concrete evidence?

why any minority with any self-respect would favor affirmative action as it is practiced

They can work harder, or they can sit back and let the jobs and money come to them without any extra effort. Not a hard choice, really.
5.3.2007 8:49pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
Jeek:
My question exactly! Where and when did this "diversity equals excellence" equation get tested? Particularly when "diversity" is defined in such a narrow an stilted way?

Actually, the whole "diversity" argument is just a crafty little scam. Just another word game, like "affirmative action," "pro-choice," and the rest. Superficially, diversity sounds like a good idea. I mean, it's just "getting all points of view, right?" Well... no. There is immense cultural diversity on the Eurasian land mass-- from Paris to Peking. Every kind of cultural and social experience known to man, and guess what? None of it counts as "diversity" to our universities! But a white kid and a black kid who grew up in the same neighborhood in Philly? Ahhh!!!! That's what were talking about! Let the learning begin.

It is just an insulting joke.
5.3.2007 9:05pm
Viscus (mail) (www):

This is constantly asserted. Has it ever been proven?


It is actually very obvious why having people feel comfortable will create a superior intellectual environment. If people do not speak up and express their positions because they feel intimated due to being in an environment where no one shares their background, then obviously that is intellectually inferior to an environment where people feel comfortable enough to share their perspectives, and those perspective are then discussed.
5.3.2007 9:33pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Viscus. By the time a kid gets to college, his background is going to be pretty similar to those other kids in college. That is, he had a pretty good experience in high school--well maybe he didn't start at QB or get the Homecoming Queen--with peers and friends. His family was sufficiently supportive that he could do his homework without being interrupted by gunfire or johns. The family had a bit of money. The K12 system wasn't horrid.
So, what it takes to get to college is a sort of filter which pares away the seriously different background. Still some background, but you're presuming a black kid won't ask a question in a class unless there are other black kids there. If you're right, then the black kid needs to learn to ask, anyway. But you're probably wrong.
5.3.2007 10:36pm
Cato Renasci (mail):
Enoch: You're working on strawmen. I wasn't speaking of only racial diversity and I didn't definitively state that the notion was proven - I said if you controlled for everything else it "ought to be a good thing" - meaning essentially common sense suggests there's some value there. I'm certainly open to proof one way or the other. My larger point is that when the left touts "diversity" they're talking about a situation where everything else is not equal and they're asking us to overlook the difference in qualification. No sale.

On the self-respect point, I stand on what I said -- the choice to milk the unearned gravy train is not one with any self-respect could make.
5.3.2007 11:54pm
Cato Renasci (mail):
Viscus wrote:


It is actually very obvious why having people feel comfortable will create a superior intellectual environment. If people do not speak up and express their positions because they feel intimated due to being in an environment where no one shares their background, then obviously that is intellectually inferior to an environment where people feel comfortable enough to share their perspectives, and those perspective are then discussed.


Ah, but what if by getting a sufficient 'critical mass' of 'minority' participants so that they feel comfortable enough to share their perspectives, the majority no longer feels comfortable expressing their opinions freely?

Typically, the failure to engage intellectually without a claque of sympathetic supporters signifies a lack of confidence in the power of the arguments.
5.4.2007 12:10am
Enoch:
If people do not speak up and express their positions because they feel intimated due to being in an environment where no one shares their background... then they are feeble creatures indeed. Not really college material.

I said if you controlled for everything else it "ought to be a good thing" - meaning essentially common sense suggests there's some value there.

As usual, "common sense" here means something for which there is no evidence or convincing logical arguments, but we are expected to accept it because lots of other people believe it.
5.4.2007 7:33am
Cato Renasci (mail):
Enoch: What I think we'd both like to see is the experiment (or perhaps multiple experiments) controlling for all factors with the only difference being "diversity" variously defined. I'm not sure, however, that this would resolve the question, because no two groups will ever have the same dynamic. Pesky creatures, humans - sometimes predictable in larger groups, not individually. I'all accept your point that there's no real proof of the value of diversity if you'll accept mine that common sense suggests that the availability of alternative perspectives (again assuming all other things are equal) might well contribute to the discussion. I suppose I make the analogy with the ability (rare, but critical) to think "outside the box" - if someone of equal ability but different perspective shares ideas, that might be catalytic in inducing deeper insight on the part of someone engaged in the discussion.
5.4.2007 8:30am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Cato. The alternative perspectives come from where? The kids are almost all middle-class or up, or at worst upper lower class, with the standard K12 education, and a far more than average likelihood of an intact family.
Different skin color means what?
Now, let's really do an alternative perspective thought experiment: An Infantry veteran in a poli sci class. A conservative Christian in a philosophy or ethics class. A person from subSaharan Africa in a class about subSaharan Africa.
There are some alternative perspectives. See any affirmative action for them? Noop. And, in addition, they'd better keep their damn' mouths shut, too.
5.4.2007 9:05am
Jeek:
common sense suggests that the availability of alternative perspectives (again assuming all other things are equal) might well contribute to the discussion.

Ah, but does "common sense" really suggest that people of different races actually have alternative perspectives? Is there really a significant difference in perspective between two profs who are both Ivy League grads who had professional parents and grew up in the suburbs, but one of them is black and the other is white? If they're both left-leaning, Prius-driving, secular Democrats, what is the important difference between them? Why are we selecting for race as a perspective provider, and not class or ideology?

Considering that faculty is often chosen on the basis of "can I get along with this person in the faculty lounge?", the argument that they need diversity to provide "alternative perspectives" seems a bit thin. I guarantee you I can find a person of another race or gender who has exactly the same perspective on things as I do - and that's pretty much what these hiring committees do, too.
5.4.2007 9:16am
Sarah (mail) (www):
I don't have a problem with whatever Colgate decides, so long as they're open about it and incoming students and their parents are able to learn about the situation before the Early Action/Early Decision deadlines at their second-choice institutions.

If preferring diversity either doesn't work or isn't what people want to pay for, Colgate will simply be hurting itself by preferring diversity -- and it will be an additional argument at the next college board meeting in which they debate the idea.

I mean, when was the last time we had a really solid flamewar about semester versus quarter scheduling? At most, a few thousand students will have a slightly diminished utility from their education, compared with what they could have realistically expected (likely even fewer, given the small number of students likely to be affected by the sub-specialties of newly hired faculty)

On a completely different subtopic: I suspect that the "the curriculum will be more diverse!!" statement had something to do with the difference between the following two approaches:

1. We have always had an expert in 18th century Shakespeare criticism, because Professor Y did that in the 1950s and he hired his favorite grad student, Professor X. Professor X is now retiring, and there are seven new PhDs looking for jobs that also studied 18th century Shakespeare criticism. Let's call them in for interviews.

2. Professor X is retiring. There are several thousand English PhDs looking for teaching jobs -- let's call in everyone fits our definition of "diverse" and is a medievalist of some sort; we've got a field of 300 or so to choose from, and if we add in the ABDs, we can boost it to 400! We might even get someone with a specialty that lends itself to topics our undergraduate English majors really want to spend 4 months of their lives talking about every day.

(I assume here that Professor X, the expert in 18th century Shakespeare criticism, teaches the intro to Shakespeare class once a year, an intro to lit class every term, the Late Middle English Lit class for majors once every other year, and a Special Topics in Literature course each term, whose content was based on requests from juniors and seniors in the department. It's a teaching load somewhat smaller than that of the professors I know who complain the most about how little time they have to work on their sub-specialties, though perhaps Colgate has more Shakespeare classes. Even so, an 18th century Shakespeare criticism specialty probably doesn't have a really big impact that a 19th century Shakespeare revival specialty can't equal, and you will get a more diverse curriculum over time if you open up to hiring all kinds of Shakespeare specialties. Kind of like the Slavic departments that look for "Russian plus something from this list" teachers.)
5.4.2007 9:50am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> It is actually very obvious why having people feel comfortable will create a superior intellectual environment.

For a given set of people, comfort helps, but the set of people is actually variable.

If making the genius comfortable requires a supporting cast that makes the rest of the team uncomfortable, you're better off without the genius.

In other words, if creating a superior intellectual environment through comfort is your goal, you select for good folks who can be comfortable without much support.

I'm guessing that if we have to choose between "creating a superior intellectual environment" and "critical mass", the latter will win.
5.4.2007 1:03pm
Ray Fuller (mail):
A "brief" response to my critic, Jeek: I surely cannot conceive how the absence of female law students would improve anyone's "knowledge of the law", in the broadest sense. For those of us with mothers or wives, the answer to your question [why the presence of female law students is important] is self-explanatory: Females humanize us, in particular young male students, passing on social, cultural and moral norms. Law is not a dead letter to be memorized, but rather a living social contract to be realized in the real world. Females are an indispensable part of society and of the law, including the legal profession. I even consider that, fundamentally, the World "War on Terror" is an elemental battle against radical Islamists to liberate and equalize women around the world. It took World War II and its social aftermath to accomplish that liberation and equality in America for women. I was out of college and law school by the time that academia finally admitted (with trepidation!) any truly significant numbers of women. That social revolution in the course of one generation is an admirable American accommplishment that too few remember or celebrate. As for black affirmative action, I certainly do not believe that intellectual and human "promise" and "ability" are mutually exclusive. I just do not believe that test scores and grades are as "objective" a measure of student ability and worth as anti-AA advocates argue. The implicit translation of your reference to "inferior test scores and grades" for blacks is that blacks themselves are inferior in intellect, or in ambition, or in some other human ability. I believe that most, if not all, of those who are beneficiaries of AA are as "qualified" as their peers who did not get a college admission or hire as a result. Subtle racism often causes critics of AA not to be able to admit that. This is not to say that there are not some AA beneficiaries who fail and betray their promise, but that is true of some whites as well. Just consider that Law School graduation rates and State Bar Admission rates for AA blacks at the elite Law Schools are very nearly identical to their white cohorts. It is unfair to call AA candidates "unqualifed" just because they are not the "most qualified" based upon some supposedly "objective" criteria. There are many kinds of intelligence valued by society, and the kind limited to student paper tests and teacher publishing is hardly the only one worth honoring, advancing and selecting. The complete human being has not just an IQ, but also a conscience, a heart and a soul that hopefully are in tune with each other. There are truly many types and styles of teaching and learning, inside and outside the classroom. No social institution, including an educational institution, is just an intelligentsia disconnnected from the society upon which it relies and into which it sends present and future leaders. It is actually rather silly to see how vitriolic and extreme the reaction to AA is, given the actual numbers involved. For example, at the Top 20 Law Schools, blacks represent only 7.6% of the student body, that is, fewer than 500 law students admitted annually. The numbers of minority students benefitting from AA at the undergraduate and graduate levels are pretty small, and the numbers of whites who might benefit without AA are not large, and ending AA would hardly increase any individual white person's chance out of the very large white pool of candidates. I fear that academic meritocracy is really the same old racism under a new guise, more "polite" but just as dangerous to democratic values and institutions. The price being paid to win the meritocracy "rat race" is just as bad for the white winner as for the black loser, student or teacher, because it dehumanizes both. That price is magnified for the college and law school credentials' "arms race" players, and even more so for our society at large. Racial integration is still a dream. If the dream dies, then American society will awake to a terrible nightmare that it might not survive.
5.6.2007 7:26am
Ray Fuller (mail):
My "brief" reply to JohnK:
I deny that I am a "racist", "overt" or otherwise, for believing in fundamental human equality and for denying that there is any real difference in intelligence, humanity or anything of value, regardless of how measured, between any racial or ethnic groups. If a measure of races is said to say otherwise, then that measure is either wrong or is being misapplied. That is an article of faith for me, because I do not believe that Yahweh created superior or inferior races, and I do not believe in the infallability of man or his scientific instruments and measures. Period. Minority and female candidates can legitimately "compete against", if you will, white males, if the competition is fair. The objectivity of "test scores" and "professional accomplishments" surely is in the eye of the beholder, and I hardly consider them to be the only or the true measure for judging candidates for admission or for hiring at our universities. For example, Law Schools mechanically admit students according to their actual LSAT scores, despite the fact that each score really only represents a range of possible scores for each student. There is no scientific basis for automatically admitting any student who is just 1 or 2 or 3 points higher than another, but Law Schools routinely act as if a 1 point difference is a genuinely legitimate measure of "quality" or "qualification". (Of course, Law Schools engage in this mythology for two reasons: Because it makes selecting a class pretty damn easy, and because this methodology affects their ranking in the US News annual report.) And it is not coincidental that white candidates benefit from their privileged social and economic condition in their competition on such "objective measures" with disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups. Whites (like any other social elite) are always willing to "compete" as a group in any game in which they are guaranteed to win, such as SAT and LSAT exams, and even grades, where they have had advantages inconceivable to most disadvantaged minority persons (such as elitist and racist school teachers and curricular offerings, test review courses, mentors and counseling, medically-certified "special needs" for more test-taking time and accomodations, etc.). Not to mention the history of slavery and racism in America. (It is incredible that in but one generation, beginning in the 1960's, America has changed from total segregation, North and South, to true integration in its public accomodations, and more limitedly public schools. But, although it has been 40 years since federal law changed the face of America, residentially and socially most American communities remain quite rigidly segregated by race and ethnicity. Perhaps because they do not live it or have to confront it, some academics and most race baiters ignore that reality, at the peril of the rest of us.) I believe that no one is "inferior" or superior to anyone else, and certainly no racial group is. For you to advance the meritocracy plank, despite its unfairness to blacks and other underrepresented minorities, is to embrace "scientific racism". There is no legitimacy to either the science or the racism.
5.6.2007 8:32am
Ray Fuller (mail):
A truly brief reply to my critic, Prufrock765:
Unfortunately, America remains a racist society in practice, and the only effective means to integrate most social institutions is affirmative action. I understand the intellectual and logical quandary that affirmative action poses for intellectually honest opponents. AA is a messy solution, but America is a practical society which relies upon common sense, even when not ideologically consonant, in order to achieve its major goals and ideals. Integration is essential for America's viability at home and abroad. Lincoln said that America could not survive as a house divided against itself, with its states half slave and half free. I believe that America cannot survive with its citizens half fully-empowered and self-actualized, and half fairly-marginalized in the societal and human senses, between the descendants of the slaves and the tide of new immigrants. Diminution of questionable "merit" measures in minority admissions and hires does not constitute reverse discrimination. You ask whether I would hire a person lacking "merit", and I respond, "Of course not." But would you ever hire someone based upon paper qualifications alone? I hope not! Only in aristocracies like Britain does pedigree count for all. I certainly never have and never would hire anyone for any position based solely upon his/her test scores and/or academic grades. But that is exactly what Law Schools now do in their admissions, and to only a somewhat lesser extent, so do undergraduate universities. (I was personally interviewed in order to gain admission to college and law school in the 1960's. Is our country that much bigger or more impersonal today?) It is a crime against society for Law Schools to be so lazy, stingy, irresponsible and unprofessional as to now admit students based almost solely upon their LSAT scores and undergraduate grades. It was my privilege to be interviewed in order to gain admission to HLS, and to be treated like a human being, instead of being considered some dehumanized, deracinated comparative number. I fear that this admissions process bodes ill for the future of the legal profession, which already is rife with personal alienation, unethical behavior, and social irresponsibility. Those negative trends can only be reinforced.
5.6.2007 9:32am
Ray Fuller (mail):
My final "brief reply" to my critic, CatoRenasci:
There were hardly a "large number" of coed colleges and law schools in the 1960's. True coeducation came, at least to the most prestigious colleges and law schools, in the 1970's. (I will label your reference to "a multitude of 'Betty Co-eds'" as "sexist", with no further comment needed.) At that time, I did not question the prevailing societal attitudes toward women, that they were or should be intellectually and socially inferior. Of course, as a male, I benefitted from that "wrong" (factually and ethically) assumption. Contrary to your view, women then were viewed very much like other affirmative action groups at that time, specifically including blacks. They were all "suspect" as being not qualified by intellect, training or experience; as not being committed, serious, or likely to succeed; at bottom, as not being able to compete with white males. Colgate and HLS, even as virtually all-male educational institutions, managed to help me to learn how wrong social attitudes toward women (and minorities) were. I hope that it would have been an even quicker and more profound lesson if women had populated my campuses as students, rather than as mere weekend dates. That era did produce a Second American Revolution that brought basic equality and liberty to women and minorities. For that, at least, I am grateful. Finally, I do not believe that the university should aim to be an ivory tower isolated from the larger society, as you desire. Hiring faculty with a respect for "scholarly attainment and teaching ability" need not preclude female and minority teachers. Indeed, I repeatedly see female and minority faculty named as "best teachers" and "most cited scholars" at prestigious universities and law schools. But it is important that current, older, white male faculty be ever cognizant in hiring interviews and decisions of their own subconscious predilections for those who look, sound, act, think, trained, and teach just like themselves, a version of the "dead hand of the past." Different candidates may very well demonstrate different kinds of "merit", and prejudice or mere paper credentials are not good indicators of teaching or scholarly ability and potential. Like student admissions, AA faculty hires based upon "merit" on some scale or by some measure other than a test score or an ancient grade does not mean that those persons are "unqualified", so long as the test score and/or ancient grade is objectively minimally adequate. It is a sad truth that most college and law school graduates from a few decades ago could not successfully compete for admission to their alma maters today. But does that mean that, were they to be admitted today, they could not succeed academically? Hardly! Indeed, I suspect that most of the successful college graduates and lawyers from those past decades would have SAT and LSAT scores very close to those of the affirmative action candidates about whom they complain today. Yet even with those scores and grades, they succeeded in their professions and lives. So will today's affirmative action admittees and hires, if given the chance. I believe that my undergraduate education supports my "comment about America not being about meritocracy, but democracy...." Democracy requires a combination of basic political and social equality among individuals and groups, as well as basic personal and organizational liberty to differentiate from others and to even excel according to merit. But I must ask, how can there be "equality of opportunity" if minorities (and decreasingly women) are excluded by artificial barriers from university admission or hiring? An undergraduate education, and even a professional education, are very real opportunities that a society should withhold from distinct racial and ethnic and gender groups only for good cause and with great concern. How can public law schools like UCLA, Hastings and Boalt in California justify admitting only 39 black law students between them this past year, out of about 1,150 in their first year classes? If blacks do not attend such law schools, they will not have the opportunity to join a profession that already does not reflect, and most seriously underserves, the black communities of California. It is ironic that you claim that "[n]ot even the most diehard enemy of 'affirmative action' wants to go to something ... where everything in your future career depends upon a high stakes exam." Yet that is exactly what the LSAT is, an exclusionary high stakes exam, and that is exactly what the LSAT does to prospective black law students, exclude them from the opportunity of a law school education, and ultimately of a legal career. Every denied legal education, every lost career, is like a pebble falling in the lake, with waves of despair and denial radiating out to the entire black community in America. The American people will pay a price for such denial of individual opportunity and social justice for blacks.
5.6.2007 11:31am
CatoRenasci (mail):
Paragraphs would be nice, Mr. Fuller:

Fuller wrote:

My final "brief reply" to my critic, CatoRenasci:
There were hardly a "large number" of coed colleges and law schools in the 1960's. True coeducation came, at least to the most prestigious colleges and law schools, in the 1970's.


Simply not true. The top University of California law schools were coed, Stanford was coed, Michigan was coed, Cornell was coed (a female cousin of mine went to law school at Cornell in the 1930s!). You made a choice, that the marginal prestige of Harvard outweighed the benefits of coeducation (and wasn't HLS coed by 1953 per Wikipedia?). And, at the undergraduate level, there were scores to top quality private universities and liberal arts colleges that were co-ed in the '50s and early '60s, without even counting the major public universities almost all of which were coeducational. You either did not cast your net very widely or did not practice what you preach.


(I will label your reference to "a multitude of 'Betty Co-eds'" as "sexist", with no further comment needed.)


That was humor - get a life. There was a famous popular song in the '30s by that title that has a catchy tune - as I was reading your post to which I replied I was listening to a medley that included "Betty-Co-ed" and "You've Got to Be a Football Hero" (an early Rudy Vallee hit).


At that time, I did not question the prevailing societal attitudes toward women, that they were or should be intellectually and socially inferior. Of course, as a male, I benefitted from that "wrong" (factually and ethically) assumption.



Curiously, I never had those attitudes: my mother was a professional, as were the majority of her friends. The adult women I knew growing up, and many of the girls who were my contemporaries, were intelligent and accomplished. My great-grandmother and grandmother were college graduates (in the late 1860s and 1890 respectively). Both were suffragettes. My mother, and my grandmother who lived into the early 1970s, did what they pleased regardless of whether women were 'supposed' to do it or not. Both despised modern feminism as being more about a cause than character, which they regarded as decisive.

Other than purely physical limitations (e.g. the infantry), it never occurred to me that women were any less capable than men, or that they would not go to college at the same rate. Most of the girls I knew growing up who were interested in medicine went to medical school, not nursing school. But, then, I'm a Californian of pioneer stock.


Contrary to your view, women then were viewed very much like other affirmative action groups at that time, specifically including blacks. They were all "suspect" as being not qualified by intellect, training or experience; as not being committed, serious, or likely to succeed; at bottom, as not being able to compete with white males.



I simply don't think that's true. I knew a number of the first women who went to Yale as undergraduates, for example. All outstandingly qualified in every respect. Similarly at the law schools. When the doors were open to women, there was never any question whether the women had equal qualifications. The only argument I ever heard made seriously was that many women were not as committed to the profession -- which, by the way, we see borne out to a degree today by the significantly larger number of women lawyers who leave the profession. I wouldn't argue against the admission of women on that ground, since with both men and women it's impossible to know who will and will not be committed.



Colgate and HLS, even as virtually all-male educational institutions, managed to help me to learn how wrong social attitudes toward women (and minorities) were. I hope that it would have been an even quicker and more profound lesson if women had populated my campuses as students, rather than as mere weekend dates. That era did produce a Second American Revolution that brought basic equality and liberty to women and minorities. For that, at least, I am grateful.



Again, this is risible. You could have chosen from among a multitude of coeducational colleges and universities, both for college and law school. Many of them at least as prestigious, if not more prestigious, than Colgate. I was there for the "revolution" and frankly, it seemed a whole lot more like a party than a revolution. In my experience, the really talented women I knew were embarrassed by the whole thing - as much as they relished the freedom that the pill provided - which is what made all of this possible.



Finally, I do not believe that the university should aim to be an ivory tower isolated from the larger society, as you desire.



Then, I suspect, you have never thought very seriously about the nature of the university or studied the history of colleges and universities. The notion was (and is) that the isolation is necessary for thoughtful reflection, contemplation, and concentration on the life of the mind. If students are full time, meaning they are concentrating primarily on their academic work, so ought the faculty be concentrating on their areas of scholarly learning distanced from the passions of the day.


Hiring faculty with a respect for "scholarly attainment and teaching ability" need not preclude female and minority teachers. Indeed, I repeatedly see female and minority faculty named as "best teachers" and "most cited scholars" at prestigious universities and law schools. But it is important that current, older, white male faculty be ever cognizant in hiring interviews and decisions of their own subconscious predilections for those who look, sound, act, think, trained, and teach just like themselves, a version of the "dead hand of the past." Different candidates may very well demonstrate different kinds of "merit", and prejudice or mere paper credentials are not good indicators of teaching or scholarly ability and potential. Like student admissions, AA faculty hires based upon "merit" on some scale or by some measure other than a test score or an ancient grade does not mean that those persons are "unqualified", so long as the test score and/or ancient grade is objectively minimally adequate.



No sale. If there were an adequate supply of 'minority faculty' or minority applicants who met the same academic criteria as other candidates, none of this would be an issue - the reason affirmative action is an issue is because there is a widespread perception, for most people based on personal experience, that minority faculty often have inferior credentials, and that minority applicants have significantly inferior credentials to other applicants.




It is a sad truth that most college and law school graduates from a few decades ago could not successfully compete for admission to their alma maters today. But does that mean that, were they to be admitted today, they could not succeed academically? Hardly! Indeed, I suspect that most of the successful college graduates and lawyers from those past decades would have SAT and LSAT scores very close to those of the affirmative action candidates about whom they complain today. Yet even with those scores and grades, they succeeded in their professions and lives. So will today's affirmative action admittees and hires, if given the chance.



The people who succeeded in the past did not face the same competition in admission or their professions as do people today. Admissions has become far more competitive, as have the professions, in part because we have opened up to a larger society. Some 'minorities' will do well, others won't, just as some 'majority' graduates will do well and some won't. But, it's folly to pretend that a fellow with a 50th percentile LSAT score is likely to have the same analytic ability as the young woman with a 99.99th percentile LSAT score.


I believe that my undergraduate education supports my "comment about America not being about meritocracy, but democracy...." Democracy requires a combination of basic political and social equality among individuals and groups, as well as basic personal and organizational liberty to differentiate from others and to even excel according to merit. But I must ask, how can there be "equality of opportunity" if minorities (and decreasingly women) are excluded by artificial barriers from university admission or hiring? An undergraduate education, and even a professional education, are very real opportunities that a society should withhold from distinct racial and ethnic and gender groups only for good cause and with great concern.




This goes to a number of deep questions that can't be addressed here. Suffice it to say that neither my undergraduate education nor my graduate educations in intellectual history, philosophy and the law (economics not being so relevant here) would support your contention. Equality of opportunity, which is perhaps a corollary of equality before the law, has a longstanding history in the US, whereas equality of result - which is essentially socialism or even Marxism, has never commanded serious respect in the US, let alone been considered a keystone of our republic.

And, what is equality of opportunity in education? Certainly, to the extent we have a system (as in California with the community colleges) that provides anyone who wants to go to college with the opportunity to do so, virtually for free ($20/unit for state residents so a normal load of 15 units would be $300/semester), and at those bargain rates to cure any deficiencies in their preparation and then to demonstrate that they are capable of doing university level work, so they can transfer to a four year institution.

Plenty of people who graduate from less than elite colleges and universities do very well in life, even ending up as executives of major companies. I fail to see how admission to elite colleges and universities is a matter of equal opportunity. I'll go further. When I was a graduate student at the University of California in the early 1970s, I was a representative to the academic senate and involved in the discussions concerning the structure of affirmative action programs. There was significant support for an approach, which I supported, to identify promising minority candidates whose academic records would not be competitive for admission to the University of California, and place them in selected junior (community) colleges where they could (on scholarship that would cover living expenses to they didn't have to work) remedy their academic deficiencies and demonstrate the ability to do university work on an equal footing with other students. The idea was that there would be no dilution of UC standards, either at admission or graduation. Unfortunately, the approach that was adopted gave us affirmative action admits with substantially inferior academic credentials, necessitating remedial work at the university - which, unlike the junior colleges, was not set up to provide it - and leading to the sense that the affirmative action admits were not as qualified as other students.


How can public law schools like UCLA, Hastings and Boalt in California justify admitting only 39 black law students between them this past year, out of about 1,150 in their first year classes? If blacks do not attend such law schools, they will not have the opportunity to join a profession that already does not reflect, and most

seriously underserves, the black communities of California.

Well, I went to UCLA Law School, and I can tell you for a fact, based on my having had access to the data in the admissions office, that of the 20% of my class who were 'minority' (Asians weren't considered minorities) (which would have been some 60 students), only one (1) would have been admitted on the same criteria as the rest of the class. And, that one actually went so far as not to note that he was black on his application - they didn't know he was black until he showed up. At that time, at UCLA, the minority students had substantially lower bar passage rates, and hovered at the bottom of the class. There was only one minority on Law Review - as you may have guessed, they guy who didn't say he was black on his application.

The thing is, in order to become a lawyer in California, you don't have to go to Boalt, UCLA, Hastings, UC Davis, Stanford or USC. In fact California has many more law schools, catering to students with all levels of academic achievement, including schools accredited only by the State of California. I don't think it was a service to the minority law students to have them in over their heads. There was a study published by a guy at UCLA on this very point not long ago.


It is ironic that you claim that "[n]ot even the most diehard enemy of 'affirmative action' wants to go to something ... where everything in your future career depends upon a high stakes exam." Yet that is exactly what the LSAT is, an exclusionary high stakes exam, and that is exactly what the LSAT does to prospective black law students, exclude them from the opportunity of a law school education, and ultimately of a legal career. Every denied legal education, every lost career, is like a pebble falling in the lake, with waves of despair and denial radiating out to the entire black community in America. The American people will pay a price for such denial of individual opportunity and social justice for blacks



The LSAT doesn't exclude black law students, their performance on the examination excludes them. I have issues with the LSAT, and with high stakes testing generally, but I don't really see much of an alternative when it's so difficult to compare grades and other evaluations from the thousands of colleges and universities. Coming from a background that did not prepare one adequately for high stakes tests is not unique to minority students, there are plenty of poor whites with the same objective circumstances. The real problem lies in the culture in the minority communities that does not value educational achievement. It all comes down to individual behavior, character and achievement.
5.7.2007 3:35pm
Ray Fuller (mail):
Response to CatoRenasci's Response:

Just to correct your history: "The number of women who apply to and enroll in ABA-approved law schools has increased steadily and significantly since the late 1960's. In 1965-66, women made up 2,374 of 56,510 J.D. students (4.2%). By 1971-72, that proportion had more than doubled: 8567 of 91,225 law students (9.4%) were women." From "First Generation Issues: Access to Law School," by Lee E. Teitelbaum (@ www.aals.org/diversity/teitelba.html.)

Just because law schools were co-ed in name then, they obviously were not in practice. Remember what a pioneer Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was at Stanford Law School? And how she was rewarded with offers of secretarial jobs upon her graduation? Were minority graduates treated much differently in those recent times?

As for the LSAT, I really do not criticize its beneficial use (considering that I was one of those poor white "farmboys" who got into Law School early admission due in part to my LSAT score), but I criticize its misuse today. You cannot convince me that a 1 point difference on the LSAT is a valid way to cut the wheat from the chaff. Moreover, I cannot conceive of hiring an employee, no less making career-changing choices for others, without the benefit of a personal interview. What lesson are the Law Schools teaching by admitting their students without benefit of an interview, when any practicing lawyer would surely be guilty of professional misconduct if (s)he represented a client without the benefit of an interview?

Finally, it must be remembered that Colgate University, in all of its hires, first and foremost, only considers those who are "excellent" in their teaching and research. The use of affirmative action to trump subfield specialties is the only issue. I think that a reasonable tradeoff. I trust Colgate to make the right decisions for the right reasons. Colgate did with me, lol!
5.8.2007 3:45pm
CatoRenasci (mail):
I hardly see how you're correcting my history, I never said that in your day women made up anything like the percentages they do now at any of the law schools, rather I pointed out that many law schools were coeducational. Determined young women who wanted to study the law had the opportunity.

As to the LSAT, there is no question that minute distinctions (and remember 1 point today covers more ground on the 180 point scale than it did on the 800 point scale in our day) between LSAT scores are probably not significantly meaningful. On the other hand, 30-40 percentile ranking differences are meaningful.

Interviews are not a bad idea, but with applications running in the thousands, the amount of faculty and/or administration resources they would consume may be daunting. If a law school had 5,000 applicants, if each applicant were to be given a 30 minute interview, that would be 2,500 man hours, without taking into account any travel time, breaks or the like. Given that the application season runs from perhaps September through January, that's 500 hours per month! Since you would have to have a small group of interviewers if you wanted consistency and fairness, that would mean 2-3 administrators or faculty members who would do nothing else for 5 months.

The admissions process is difficult because there is a significantly larger demand than there is supply, and the admissions staff needs to find relatively objective ways to winnow the field down to a manageable number to evaluate in a more time-intensive manner. Undergraduate grades are one way, but imperfect. LSAT scores are another, also imperfect.

When you're hiring potential associates, of course, you can't interview every one of hundreds of candidates who submit a resume. You'd never get your work done. So, you screen the resumes to determine the candidates to whom you will offer interviews. Law schools are merely doing the same thing, as are undergraduate colleges, but on a far more extensive scale (when places at the top tier get anywhere from 15-30,000 applicatants).

You can believe in Colgate's virtue to the extent you wish, I am more sanguine in my view. I think first, that if the level of excellence were equal, you would not see this become the issue it has, and second (and more importantly in my view) hiring different subspecialties affects the outlook and approach of a department.

To transform a department, say from one which covers the major subfields well with essentially 'middle of the road' interpretations to provide a sound grounding in a discipline (which I think is the primary mission in most liberal arts colleges) into one which covers primarily sub-specialties of interest to faculty chosen more for their ethnic diversity than their areas of interest, represents a fundamental and significant decision in the life of a college.

That sort of transformation should not be undertaken haphazardly and without serious reflection and open discussion within the university community (including the alumni) about what it will mean for the direction of the department, the college, and the education it is providing to students. You think it's a reasonable trade-off, I think it's politically correct folly.
5.8.2007 4:22pm