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When it comes to diversity, it's philosophy - not race - that matters

Sugar in your gas tank

Tiffany Oliver

Issue date: 11/5/10 Section: Opinion
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With the State of the University address recently passed, I've seen a heightened interest of late in university policies and initiatives. While reading the Case Daily, I noticed the special emphasis given to racial diversity in recent weeks. First, there is the new Social Justice Institute. Then there is the Case Western Reserve University Diversity Lecture Series. While it is commendable that people are dedicated to creating a more diverse atmosphere, I question the premise that diversity will create more educational opportunities, more tolerance, and a better learning environment. While reading all of the advertisements for diversity events, I saw no mention of facts supporting the claim that racial diversity in itself is a positive influence. In fact, studies exist that show that women perform better in an all-female atmosphere.
Elites in higher education strive to advertise a university's racial diversity (which is the new trend), and it is well known that a person's race can sometimes work as a benefit for college admissions. It strikes me as odd that people do not see the racism at the foundation of these policies. Believing that a person's race makes them different - regardless if that difference is valued or scorned - is the root of racism.
If schools want to preach racial diversity, fine. While some students may be attracted to diversity, universities that go out of their way to create the stereotypical college brochure with students representing every imaginable ethnicity may come across as superficial. And while many colleges are advertising their efforts at racial diversity, they are not attempting to create philosophical diversity. In terms of benefits to an education, philosophical trumps racial diversity (unless you assume certain races are predisposed to certain beliefs).
I have noticed that CWRU is overrun by liberals- whether they are students, faculty members, or employees. Liberals dominate the academic world, or so say statistical breakdowns of professors' political beliefs. Numbers also show that liberals receive a higher level of education than conservatives. The great irony is that the same people pushing for race-based diversity are the first to call those who philosophically disagree intolerant. In their view, it is fine to express your opinion, as long as you agree with their views. To disagree is to be uneducated, or to lack an understanding of the complexities of a given issue. Instead of creating tolerance, these people chastise and ostracize anyone they consider opposed to diversity.
If CWRU wants to truly be a bastion of diversity (which appears to be the case based on press releases from the administration) then it should strive to achieve greater philosophical diversity. If the goal of race-conscious admissions is to create diversity by admitting people with different life experiences with special insight or unique opinions, then they need to address the clear lack of philosophical diversity in both the student body and the faculty.
My point is that if a school wants to be diverse, it should strive for an atmosphere of intellectual diversity that forces students to defend their beliefs in a rational and logical manner. In order for true diversity to exist, the campus community should not be overwhelmingly supportive of one ideology. Schools are misguided and blatantly racist if they believe racial diversity creates philosophical diversity, because such an assumption means that race dictates opinions. A policy founded on racism is morally wrong, and fails to achieve any real diversity beyond good-looking statistics on Princeton Review.

Tiffany Oliver is a third-year history and political science major with a public policy minor. She is a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta women's fraternity.
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