Monday, June 02, 2008

Hu-DeHart: Diversity an "industry"

The woman who hired Ward Churchill said in a speech last week at the 21st annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (in Disneyworld!) that universities are using ethnic studies departments and diversity flunkies like the attendees to divert attention from--well take a guess (hint: it's racism). Peter Schmidt in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription req'd and I ain't got one) reports:
The brochures for the 21st annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education boasted of its being "the leading and most comprehensive national forum" on the issues it covers. About 2,000 people registered for the event, held this week at the Coronado Springs Resort in Disney World's Animal Kingdom.

In a move befitting this wild locale, one of the nation's leading proponents of diversity in higher education turned on her audience in a biting [like a mole rat--ed.] speech delivered on Thursday. Evelyn Hu-DeHart, director of Brown University's Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, suggested that colleges let people attend this annual conference—typically held in family-friendly tourist destinations—to reward them for not making waves by pushing for more equity and black and Hispanic representation on campus.

Calling herself "a hard-nosed critic from the inside," Ms. Hu-DeHart said, "Let's face it: Diversity has created jobs for all of us. It is a career. It is an industry."
A Soviet industry, contributing nothing anybody needs at prices no one can afford.

"We do what we need to keep our jobs," she said. "But as long as we keep doing our job the way we are told to do it, we are covering up for our universities."

"You all are covering up," she said. "You all are complicit in this."

Little Eichmanns!

The problem, she argued, is that those who attend the conference—and work in college offices dealing with diversity and minority issues—help their institutions create the impression that they are far more concerned with diversity and equity than is actually the case.

Uncle Toms and Ont Thomasinas!

To try to prove her point, she asked her audience to comb through the program for the five-day meeting and note the job descriptions of those who would be speaking, and think about those who seemed absent from this event. The group found plenty of listings for chief diversity officers, administrators and staff members from campus offices in charge of student support, outside diversity consultants, and faculty members in the fields of education, psychology, and ethnic studies. But they found little evidence of the presence of college trustees, presidents, provosts, academic deans, or professors in more traditional academic fields, especially mathematics and science.

Proving, as if proof were needed, that they're smarter than ethnic studies types.

Meanwhile, she said, the reality on campuses is that ethnic-studies programs account for a disproportionate share of black and Hispanic professors, and that a large share of the faculty members that colleges count as minority members are either Asian-Americans or from abroad.

That sounds kind of racist.
The ideal of diversity being pursued by colleges, she said, is far more rooted in a business-driven desire to have different types of people on campuses than the pursuit of social justice for those who have historically been excluded from education in the United States.

Ms. Hu-DeHart was especially hard on chief diversity officers, arguing that their existence within college administrations helps distract attention from the responsibility that presidents and provosts bear for the lack of diversity on campus.

"Walk away from your job as it is and renegotiate," Ms. Hu-DeHart urged.
Spoken like a tenured professor.
Her audience seemed receptive to her message, although none said they would be threatening to quit their jobs anytime soon.
(via Discriminations)

Update: From her Brown University (where she's a professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America) page: "Evelyn Hu-DeHart often describes herself as a multicultural person who speaks several languages (including English, Chinese, French, and Spanish) and moves easily among several cultures." You won't believe this, but I often describe myself exactly the same way. Why, just the other day on the bus I said to the guy next to me, I sez, "Hey, I'm a multicultural person who speaks several languages (including English, Chinese, French and Spanish), and moves easily among several cultures." He was thrilled, and got off immediately.

Update II: What a bore.

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