Columbia University President Lee Bollinger made a big wager three years ago: The school could safely “invest” $30 million in developing and hiring faculty whose only qualification was they weren’t white men.
As Roger Clegg wrote at Minding the Campus at the time, Bollinger’s move was arguably illegal: The Supreme Court’s college affirmative-action decision that bears Bollinger’s name only applied to students, not faculty, who fall under an unexamined part of the Civil Rights Act.
Prezbo (as we affectionately call him) recently reiterated what we all suspected: The Ivy League school’s commitment to “diversity” only runs skin-deep.
In a mass email to the Columbia community three weeks ago, Prezbo doubled down on the diversity investment, promising another $33 million for “recruitment, support, and related programs” to fill its professorial and Ph.D. ranks with the right people.
The new money goes toward not just those with the correct melanin levels and chromosomal makeup. Guess who’s the new favored identity group?
Bollinger explains what he’s after further down the email – expanding the diversity of the “Ph.D. pipeline,” or the range of candidates pursuing doctorates in various programs. (The term is also the name of an “underrepresented” minority-focused program run out of Duke University’s business school.)
“New initiatives to be launched include supporting faculty recruitments for LGBTQ scholarship and convening conferences that facilitate and give prominence to issues of race, gender, and sexuality,” Prezbo wrote.
That’s right – you need the correct sexual orientation and gender identity to be worthy of Columbia’s interest now.
“Diversity” means that people who were born heterosexual will have to fight and claw for a stagnant pool of funding.
While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with granting a professorship to anyone for any reason that wouldn’t compromise one’s ability to teach, it could be argued that something is wrong with seeking out a specific demographic entirely for the purposes of boosting one’s own “diversity” quota.
The focus of diversity is not placed on that of ideological, political or religious identifications – things that people choose – but rather on the completely immaterial circumstances of one’s biology.
Is it any more satisfying to suspect you got into Columbia because of who you love, rather than what you look like?
Clearly Columbia’s means don’t match its lofty ends. Bollinger writes:
Our long-term goal has been, and remains, to achieve the critical mass of faculty needed to establish Columbia as a national leader and world center of the greatest scholarship and teaching that can only arise out of a diverse academic community.
Yet the real goal of this initiative seems to be winning hearts and minds superficially, accomplishing “diversity” quickly with something obvious and external.
If Columbia wants to create diversity that intellectually challenges the core assumptions in its student body, it should hire more conservative and libertarian professors in the humanities.
I still hold out hope that, at an institution as intellectually sound and honest as Columbia, the skin-deep “diversity” of our president – himself a champion and scholar of First Amendment rights – will one day sink a little deeper.
The contributor is a student at Columbia University.
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