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STUDY: Forcing diversity on students has negative effects

Shane Ralston can clearly remember his first experience with campus “diversity” during his freshman year of college.

“After politely opening a door for a young lady, she smacked me in the face and told me that I had ‘disempowered’ her,” Ralston recalls. “That was my first brush with militant feminism and, to be honest, it made me feel alienated from the university community, the majority of which shared her view.”

Dr. Ralston, who today works as an associate professor of philosophy, raises this anecdote in reporting on a recently published study which found that diversity can inhibit learning and cognitive growth.

Writing for Intellectual Takeout he reports:

A new study published in the Journal of Higher Education challenges diversity’s vaunted status. Despite the received wisdom that diversity experiences are always positive, students can and often do have negative experiences. These negative experiences with diversity can diminish a student’s overall educational experience, hampering critical engagement and slowing cognitive growth. …

But what constitutes a negative diversity experience? According to [Emily Tate of Inside Higher Ed], “Negative experiences, as recorded in the study, occurred when students felt their ideas and opinions were shut down due to prejudice and discrimination … or when they had hurtful, unresolved interactions with diverse students.”

These would include white students’ experiences of having their traditional views treated as less valuable than alternatives simply because they are politically incorrect.

“Higher education institutions really have not delivered on their promise of diversity,” Josipa Roksa, lead author of the study and a professor of sociology and education at the University of Virginia, told Inside Higher Ed. “It’s one thing to have a diverse student body — that is a crucial first step — but you have to ensure that interaction between groups is positive.”

“To me, this is about intentionality,” she added. “Higher education institutions are not helping students develop the skills to navigate that diversity, to engage it, to embrace it, to make it a positive experience.”

MORE: Black Harvard professor: Giving minorities safe spaces does more harm than good

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