Friday Ephemera

Elsewhere (26)

Glenn Ricketts and Peter Wood on “diversity,” uniformity and things best left unsaid.

The “diversity” doctrine… urges students to huddle inside their pre-chosen identities. The Yale [application] question is the first of a long series of subtle steps that teach students to lead with their particularities and to cultivate a kind of group vanity… Would the Yale admissions office look favourably on the student who answered, “I have found ‘diversity’ to be a cudgel by which self-appointed elites attempt to enforce their preferences over others. Diversity to me has been the experience of having my individuality denied, suppressed, and demeaned. It is a word that summarizes a smarmy form of oppression that congratulates itself on its high-mindedness even as it enforces narrow-minded conformity.” No, any student really seeking admission to Yale wouldn’t say such a thing. But chances are very good that a great many students harbour insights very much like that. They know their ethnic or racial categorization, their socio-economic status, and other such characteristics matter far more to admissions offices than their actual thoughts about who they are.

Eve Binder notes the rise of Fat Studies.

Jacqueline Johnson knows what it's like to be shunned because of her weight. In the early 2000s fat activism was edging into existence, and Johnson, a weight studies scholar, was deemed too skinny to take part. “I tried to join a fat activist group, and I was rejected because I was not of size,” she remembers… Today it’s a different story. Johnson, who teaches a course on weight and society at George Washington University, is currently a professor with 25 students of all heights and widths. Her Fat Studies class is one of a handful popping up on campuses across the country, teaching students to think about body size critically, politically, and regularly. But despite such courses’ popularity among students, critics worry that such classes emphasize bleeding-heart politics over intellectual rigour.

And Jeff Goldstein on the same.

The only epidemic at issue here is the epidemic of grievance-mongering passing itself off as legitimate “scholarship.” A course on the psychology of creating and empowering ever more oppressed victim groups and the new politically correct vocabulary (and corresponding “hate speech”) that will grow around them… would be far more valuable for students.

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