mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
campus unrest
Ivy League Presidents Try Appeasement

With their campuses rocked by social justice protests, anxious Ivy League presidents are trying to appease campus radicals with huge payouts to left-wing identity programs. Peter Salovey, the president of Yale, apologized to protesters (“we failed you”) and wrote a campus-wide letter promising to create a new “university center” for the study of “race ethnicity, and other aspects of social identity.” He also pledged to double the budget for the African American, Native American, Asian American, and Hispanic cultural centers, and to devote new resources to “educating our community about race, ethnicity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Not to be outdone, Brown University President Christina Paxson has answered protests by unveiling a $100 million program for creating “a just and inclusive campus community.” Among the budget items: “expand mentoring resources for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and first generation college students”; create “workshops” to “foster greater awareness and sensitivity on issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression”; and “promote university-wide research and academic programming on Power, Privilege, Identity and Structural Racism.”

There is no doubt that there is still racism, sexism, and homophobia on college campuses, just as there is everywhere else in our society. But the idea that it can be stamped out with still more diversity training, still more cultural centers, and still more identity studies programs is a fantasy. American college campuses are already saturated with these programs (which, it goes without saying, inflate the budgets of colleges whose degree programs are already too expensive). If bigotry is still as widespread at Brown and Yale as the protesters claim, then perhaps the universities ought to try a different approach. After all, the available evidence suggests that diversity education programs are counterproductive, and segregated academic and residential programs may well exacerbate racial isolation and misunderstanding.

Ivy League presidents seem to think that these types of giant expenditures will save them from further protests and negative media coverage. But it’s only a matter of time before protesters take to the quad with megaphones again, protesting that administrators are trying to buy them off without addressing any of the real underlying issues. And of course, the protesters will be right.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • theresanursemom

    This is the sort of pathetic madness that brings about comparisons between America and Rome. One cannot ever have a society that is inclusive while all public discourse between various groups is a gigantic prideful urinating contest over whose perceived slights are greater. it’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of time than all this petulant childish nonsense..

  • Anthony

    “The university leaders who cravenly coddle the racial grievance lobby, such as Yale…and Princeton…are only aggravating academic mismatch, racial isolation, and unhappiness among…students – and degrading their own universities.” For a sober, honest, and frank look at a driving component go here: spectator.org/articles/64739/little-understood-engine-campus-unrest-racial-admissions-preferences

  • ljgude

    Oh Hayakawa where are you when we need you? The administrative spinelessness is worse than the teen age tantrums. What astounds me as someone who grew up in the 60s is that these protesters are stuck in the past – doing deja vu all over again as Yogi would have it. The whole schlimazel is an excellent example of history repeating itself – as farce.

  • Jim__L

    More wasted money at college campuses.

  • Pait

    I don’t think that anyone who read the complete letter by President Salovey would consider it apologetic. I think you are going for sound bites, picking and choosing small pieces of phrases out of context. This is not a productive manner of reasoning.

  • Fat_Man

    “There is no doubt that there is still racism, sexism, and homophobia on college campuses”

    Really? I do not for a moment believe that. The special snowflakes who make up the student bodies at these institutions would die of embarrassment if they ever had a racist, sexist, or homophobic thought, or if they ever committed a micro agression. Their professors and the administrators at those institutions are exemplars of purity.

  • Fat_Man

    BTW, if they have that much money, they should use it to reduce the cost of attendance at those institution which has left the stratosphere of a quarter of a million dollars for a 4 year degree and headed for the dark side of the moon.

  • Fat_Man

    Finally, the time is long past for intensive scrutiny of the privileges and powers granted to these institutions.

    Low hanging fruit includes: tax exemptions at the federal state and local levels, tax deductions for contributions and tuition payments, exemptions from the anti-trust laws and civil rights laws for accreditation and affirmative action, massive research contracts, obscure and misleading public disclosure and general lack of transparency, and self perpetuating boards of trustees.

    Finally, it is clear that the admissions policies of these institutions have created a poisonous atmosphere of entitlement and arrogance. They should be completely replaced wit a lottery that would allow all American children the opportunity of attending these schools.

  • Blackbeard

    In general Progressives seem to believe that they have all the answers and if only there were no conservatives all would be well. But when you consider a place where actually there are no conservatives, such as academia, all does not seem to be well at all.

    Could there be a lesson there?

    • Beauceron

      Yes, but the lesson seems to be that there needs to be some “purification” of the Progressives.

    • adk

      One lesson is that when they don’t have conservatives, they start devouring their own.

  • qet

    “There is no doubt that there is still racism, sexism, and homophobia on college campuses, just as there is everywhere else in our society.”

    This throw-away line appears in some form in nearly every article and blog post that attempts to be critical of the lunacy gripping our college campuses, but I think it ought to be explored a bit. If there is an individual on a college campus who really dislikes gays, referring to them according to the standard disparaging epithets, making his dislike visibly and audibly known as he goes about his day, does that mean that “homophobia is on the campus”? One person equals “homophobia is on the campus”? If not, then how about two people? How many does it take, and what must they do, and when, and where, for their individual behaviors to sum to the factual state of affairs reasonably describable as “there is homophobia on campus”?

    I believe that it verges on bad faith for an informed publication like TAI to ritually recite the existence of a fact whose existence is, in 2015 and especially among the Ivies and the liberal arts colleges of the Northeast US, doubtful. Yet everything hinges on this question, for if it cannot be reasonably, objectively said that “there *is* racism, sexism etc. on college campuses, just as everywhere else” [note: “everywhere? really? everywhere?], then the foundation for the protests all but disappears. I really do think this foundational question deserves more than rote recitation as though it were a self-evident fact.

    • Jim__L

      The litany in question is an effort to prevent his opponents from being able to point to a single instance of whateverism and say “See? See?”

      There is still Arianism and Catharism in the world as well, no doubt. Does this justify millions of dollars of university money spent on an Inquisition? Does it justify witch hunts? Does it justify rescinding Freedom of Speech? Does it justify establishing courts to specifically dodge Due Process? No, no, no, and no.

      • qet

        I agree with your first sentence, which is why I think that the self-evidence of the asserted facts must be examined. As for Catharism–my question is this: granted that there are still some people adhering to Cathar canons and rituals (I don’t know if there are but I’ll assume there are), does that mean that “Catharism is in the world”? In what sense “in the world”? Surely not in the sense of 12th century France. Anyway I just think that things like this need examination and not uncritical acceptance.

    • jeburke

      I’d go a step further and say, no, there is NOT still racism, sexism or homophobia on most college campuses and most certainly not at Yale or Brown. In fact, it has been decades since any outward expression of those sentiments, however trivial or marginal, was tolerated. The only racism, sexism or homophobia to be found at Yale today is in the tortured minds of left-wing students and faculty. Want to find “racism” to protest? Call it “structural racism” to be found in such incidental matters as a building named 85 years ago for John C. Calhoun, or in the fact that while the Dean of Yale College is Black and the University Chaplain is Black and 11% of undergraduates are Black, there remain some courses among hundreds at Yale which do not do cartwheels to somehow include a “Black perspective” on this or that.

  • Beauceron

    The Left is growing in power, and soon they will be in charge. The Democrats will be approaching Permanent Majority status over the next decade, thanks to the massive illegal immigration programs they have fought so ardently for…

    It will be all race all the time now. Your identity– the color of your skin, the ethnic group you claim, what you like to do with your genitals, will be the most important things about you. At least as long as you’re from the “right” group (People of Color, gays, and I think muslims will work their way into the mix as well).

    Thank you, Progressives!! Such an enlightened bunch, aren’t they? A round of applause, please.

  • Beauceron

    I reject the notion that college administrators are “appeasing” students in the sense you seem to mean it– that they’re folding to people they disagree with.

    They are the Academic Left (as if there really is much else in academia these days), a rare breed of know-nothings totally convinced of their intellectual superiority and the rightness of their cause.

    I think they were delighted to give the students what they want: an even greater emphasis on race and identity. I think they were delighted because that’s what they want too. I have lost count of the number of professors who have bemoaned the fact that students are apathetic or even right-wing. They have been lusting for a maniacal radical Left-wing movement for decades. And besides, after purging campuses of moderate and right-leaning professors, what other worlds were there to conquer? Campuses have been infamous for their curbing of free speech for decades. That happened because that’s what Academics wanted. It gets rid of troublesome opposition. Now they have a prefect excuse to twist the screws even tighter, to clamp down on any and all dissenting views, drive anyone who might disagree with them even further underground, and raise the flag of racialism even higher.

    • Jim__L

      I think you’ve hit upon something very important here. The lunatics are already running the asylum.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The American University system used to develop critical thinking, and the skills for validating and discovering the “Truth” in its students, but not anymore. The American University has become a re-education camp for Leftist Indoctrination, where opposing views are shouted down and forbidden a forum even when invited by some University Organization. The 1st Amendment rights of free speech and religion are denied to anyone not spewing leftist dogma. At the same time the price has skyrocketed to 10’s of thousands per year, for what is at best a third or fourth rate education.

  • rheddles

    Every group should have an ethnic center; separate but equal.

    • Jim__L

      Wasn’t one of the arguments in favor of segregation, “People of color prefer to be with their own kind”?

  • solstice

    These infantilized students are only hurting themselves because they will have to pay tuition that is even higher than their current exorbitant tuition in order to pay for the expansion of these absurd diversity and inclusion programs. And when they enter the real world outside the bubble of academia–that does not care about their feelings and where safe spaces and trigger warnings do not exist–they will be forced to finally grow up. The one good thing that might come out of all of this is that it will accelerate the popping of the higher education bubble.

  • f1b0nacc1

    “ou have the choice between war and dishonor, you have chosen dishonor, and you will have war”….forgive the imprecision of my quotation

  • Robert

    I see an up side. The more they cave to mob demands the more demands will be forthcoming. More and more money thrown at the demands. At some point they go bankrupt and they must all get real jobs.

  • bashg

    I knew it! These BLM’ers are all graduates of the Sharpton/Jackson School of Racial Shakedown.

  • chris schmidt

    This is a perfect illustration of why the Left always doubles down and never backs away from, or admits to, flawed ideas. Only the Left would even begin to consider solving the problems, if any, of divisiveness with, wait for it, more divisiveness. Brilliant!

  • bflat879

    It’s time to pull the funding plug from all of these universities. Obviously, if they have $100 million to throw at a problem, with no thought as to the propriety of it, they have way too much spare money floating around. Pull all government funding first, then all conservatives should pull their funding. Once this is done, and many universities figure out where their money comes from, let’s have an honest conversation about race, education and diversity.

  • Paul Mall

    It makes sense when you consider that creating a diversity bureaucracy serves as a kind of jobs program for otherwise unemployable victim studies majors.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service