Patt Morrison for July 28, 2011

Diverse, to a fault? UC’s “diversity bureaucracy” questioned in critical paper

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Life University/Flickr

Life University's Diversity Committee presents Diversity on the Patio.

A provocative article by Heather MacDonald in the City Journal claims that the University of California system has a bloated and corrupt “diversity bureaucracy.” The impetus for her writing the article was the creation of a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion” at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She writes that this position is being adding to the school’s “already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, and the director of development for diversity initiatives.” She uses UCSD (and UC Berkeley and UCLA) as examples of a phenomenon she sees going on in every university across the country.

MacDonald believes a "diversity bureaucracy" is unnecessary regardless of budget woes, but especially so when the UC system has lost a total of $1 billion in the past few years and campuses are cutting courses and degrees. She writes that while UCSD cut its master’s in electrical and computer engineering, it is mandating “a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation… the cultivation of ‘a student’s understanding of her or his identity.’” And the crux of the argument in her article (“More Academics, Less Narcissism”): “Training computer scientists to compete with the growing technical prowess of China and India, apparently, can wait. Why study Cervantes, Voltaire, or Goethe when you can contemplate your [own identity]? ‘Diversity,’ it turns out, is simply a code word for narcissism.” MacDonald and UC Berkeley's Lisa Garcia Bedolla, defending the UC’s policies, join Patt to ask: is “diversity bureaucracy” necessary to ensure that California’s underrepresented are represented at its universities—and should that representation be ensured?

Guests:

Heather MacDonald, contributing editor of City Journal, a quarterly magazine published by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank based in New York City (author of "More Academics, Less Narcissism"); John M. Olin fellow, Manhattan Institute

Lisa García Bedolla, associate professor, Language and Literacy, Society and Culture, UC Berkeley


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