Thick Air
Friday Ephemera

The Diversity Paradox

Housing students by race seemed to me an odd approach to ending racial division.

Andrew Quinio, a UC Berkeley graduate, comments on the university’s absurd “diversity” programmes, and their fallout.

These resources and many others exist because UC Berkeley insists that it is simply tough to be a minority. According to the student resource website, “Many students feel isolated when they go to college and this experience can be intensified if you find yourself to be the only person of color in a classroom, department, or residential unit.” For the most part, however, the university’s exaggerated concern is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Minority students detect racial hostility where there is usually none after facing interminable insistence that such hostility is real.

Over the past few years By Any Means Necessary, a pro-Affirmative Action student group on campus, has organized several public hearings to expose racial hostility. Minority students testified about their experiences with prejudice and discrimination, but their testimonies hardly painted a picture of Jim Crow conditions. One student swore he was a victim of discrimination simply because his professor did not call on him when his hand was raised. Another cried “racism” after her student group was asked to move their event to a different part of campus due to scheduling conflict. The solutions to these problems, the students declared, were more special programs for minorities, greater funding for the Ethnic Studies department, and of course the resurrection of racial preferences in college admissions. Entitlement seemed to be the only way these minority students knew how to combat racism.

The abundance of resources aimed at dealing with the problem of race mistakenly provides confirmation that a problem exists to begin with. But maintaining the special perks for minority students may invite bigger problems than the ones the university currently perceives. Allocating resources based on race and ethnicity can create resentment toward minority beneficiaries, generating the very problem that the university believes exists. It also leads to the same negative perception inherent in affirmative action that minorities cannot succeed unless they are helped. In challenging these special benefits for minority students, one must be prepared to face a barrage of nonsensical pejoratives. Those who question these sacred programs are called racist, hateful, or in my case a “self-hating minority.” But nothing could be more self-hating than embracing perpetual victim status.

Given fallout of this kind, sceptics among us might wonder if the intended beneficiaries of “diversity” are not in fact the students but rather the proponents of “diversity” themselves.

The rest. Related: What to Think, Not How.