If there’s one thing progressives, especially academics, value, it’s diversity — from gender fluid curricula in Seattle, to transgender bathrooms in Chicago, to New York City’s recognition of 31 official genders.
Soon, Wenatchee Valley College in Washington State, a two-year community college set midway between Seattle and Spokane in the Wenatchee Valley — known as the Apple Capital of the World for its orchard-rich landscape — will also wade into “diversity” territory.
Starting in the fall of 2018, “Every direct transfer AA-degree seeking student will need to take at least one five-credit diversity course to graduate,” reads the school’s website.
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Considering the school’s makeup is 55 percent students of color, of which 47 percent are Latino, this particular diversity requirement seems curious.
Not, though, to Erin Tofte-Nordvik, WVC’s director of a department called Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “It is important that all of our students are comfortable living, learning, and working in multicultural environments and are exposed to diverse perspectives,” she said.
Diversity courses such as Sociology of Race and Ethnic Groups, La Chicana: Gender, History, and Intellectualism, and History of the First Peoples of the Plateau Region, among others, are part of the aim to achieve specific outcomes.
The diversity requirement was proposed by the WVC faculty and staff governing bodies called Core Theme Councils, noted Tofte-Nordvik. “It is an objective in our strategic plan and was adopted by the WVC board of trustees,” she said.
The six learning objectives are:
- understanding discrimination and racism
- self-reflection of personal identities and bias
- global or international issues and impact on U.S. culture
- identity development and intersectionality
- systemic discrimination and oppression
- analysis of public policy and its effect on diverse populations
For those who are unfamiliar with the term intersectionality in the fourth item above, author David Horowitz in “Big Agenda” defines it this way: “The linking of alleged oppressions — racism, sexism, ageism — now has an academic name, intersectionality.”
Horowitz further noted: “For nearly half a century, leftists have been working to turn liberal arts colleges into indoctrination and recruitment centers for left-wing causes” — which helps to shed light on the growing popularity of diversity programs nationwide.
Still, they don’t always deliver on their promise.
A Harvard Business Review study on diversity based on more than 30 years of data from more than 800 businesses show that most diversity programs aren’t working. That’s because compulsory diversity training programs on college campuses from Dartmouth to UCLA and beyond are often met with anger and resistance — and lead to even more animus.
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By contrast, “the goal of the academy,” said Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Dr. Everett Piper, “should be unity and not division. It should be integration, not segregation. It should be veritas (truth), not victimization.”
The author of “Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth,” Piper is urging universities to pursue diversity that welcomes different ideas and a variety of people — not division with self-defeating outcomes. “Balkanizing people into various victimized groups always leads to segregation rather than integration,” he told LifeZette.
At OKWU, Piper differentiates between what he calls “first things” and “second things.” First things include virtue, truth, and character — while diversity is considered a second thing.
“Focus on the first, and you always get the second,” said Piper. “Focus on the second [things], and you almost always miss both” — which could explain why so many diversity programs on college campuses are failing.
“Selfishness always digresses to a quest for power. It always results in ideological fascism rather than intellectual freedom.”
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“When you teach victimization you are going to get vice and vengeance rather than virtue. You don’t get a selfless society by teaching self-centeredness,” warned Piper.
Sadly, those who stand to benefit from these kinds of diversity programs, according to Piper, are those in power. “Selfishness always digresses to a quest for power. It always results in ideological fascism rather than intellectual freedom. The proof is in the pudding,” he said, alluding to rampant campus protests from coast to coast. “It is fascism rather than freedom. It is the antithesis of the “liberal” arts. It is the opposite of what a true “university should be.”
Meanwhile, for students at WVC and other colleges, who’d rather scrap diversity requirements altogether, Piper said, “Fight for academic freedom and fight ideological fascism. Call for true diversity of thinking and diversity of ideas. Engage in the market square of ideas with civility and with confidence that truth will win the debate, not power and not opinions, but truth.”
Elizabeth Economou, a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor, is based in Seattle. Follow her on Twitter.