Occidental College May Burn Self At Stake
You think it can’t get any crazier, and then you are proven wrong. From Reason magazine, an outcome of radical student protests at a Los Angeles liberal arts college:
In recognition of their complicity in “structural racism and oppression” at Occidental College, the faculty will vote on a resolution that mandates diversity training, requires all academic departments to make racial sensitivity a component of in-class instruction, and allows students to “report microaggressions” between students and professors.
The text of the entire draft proposal opens like this:
We recognize and are inspired by the leadership of Oxy United for Black Liberation and their call for widespread institutional change in the culture of the College. We affirm that Black lives matter and also affirm the broader ideals of social justice to which their call speaks. We recognize that the structural racism and other forms of oppression of the College violate our commitment to ensuring equity and excellence in our educational programs for all of our students. We also acknowledge that our collective inaction as a faculty body makes us complicit in the failures of the College to make our Mission a lived reality. For this, we apologize for failing you, our students.
The resolution goes on to demand, among other things:
- a “meaningful, fully funded, and staffed Black Studies department with an academic major
- hiring more minority faculty, including doubling the number of “faculty of color” at the college
- mandatory affirmative action and diversity training for faculty
- diversity training for all freshmen
Here’s where it gets truly insane:
- “all departments must incorporate issues of cultural and racial identity and diversity in their curricula”
How do you have “diverse” math? “Diverse” physics? “Diverse” Ancient Near Eastern history? And so forth. This is the faculty demanding the ideologization of scholarship. More:
- “In recognition of the power imbalance between faculty and students, we will work in consultation with students and the [Chief Diversity Officer] to develop an effective mechanism for students to address and report microaggressions or other conflicts between students and faculty…”
The faculty wants to empower students to denounce them, with consequence, to the government of the college, as well as to denounce other students to authority, for what are by definition unserious offenses. But that’s not all, oh no:
- “Department chairs, the Dean of the College, and AC will take responsibility for ensuring that faculty reviews address Faculty Handbook criteria for tenure and promotion with respect to promoting success of a diverse group of students, and in particular, historically underrepresented students of color. The Dean’s Office will provide data to facilitate these reviews.”
Translation: the professional success of a teacher within this college depends on giving good grades to favored minorities.
If this proposal passes, you would have to be a lunatic to attend Occidental College.
Unlike previous witch-hunts, the event that motivates the exercise remains unspoken. But that is easy to identify: black American college students, especially men, are failing at a catastrophic rate.
Little more than a third of black male college students obtain a bachelor’s degree (ideally a four-year program) after six years of university attendance. The college entrance rate is identical for white and black high school graduates at about 70%, but graduate rates diverge. Sixty percent of white male students graduate within six years, almost double the proportion of black males.
A 2006 study in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education cited a number of possible explanations. The first amog several, JBHE wrote, is how welcome black students feel at a particular college:
Clearly, the racial climate at some colleges and universities is more favorable toward African Americans than at other campuses. A nurturing environment for black students is almost certain to have a positive impact on black student retention and graduation rates. Brown University, for example, although often troubled by racial incidents, is famous for its efforts to make its campus a happy place for African Americans. In contrast, the University of California at Berkeley has had its share of racial turmoil in recent years. The small number of black students on campus as a result of the abolishment of race-sensitive admissions has made many African Americans on campus feel unwelcome. This probably contributes to the low black student graduation rate at Berkeley.
Nonetheless, the journal added, “High dropout rates appear to be primarily caused by inferior K-12 preparation and an absence of a family college tradition, conditions that apply to a very large percentage of today’s college-bound African Americans.” That seems like a reasonable assessment. But at most American universities, merely to repeat this statement–printed originally in a respected journal of black university educators–would be considered prima facie proof of witchcraft.
When JBHE surveyed the damage in 2006, the cohort of black students failing to graduate after six years were born in the late 1970s or early 1980s, when the proportion of children born to unmarried non-Hispanic black mothers was a bit under 50%. By 2013 the proportion had risen to 72%. Without stigmatizing unwed mothers, children born in one-parent households are more likely to face the “inferior K-12 preparation and an absence of a family college tradition” cited by JBHE. Things have gotten worse, in fact much worse, for black children.
The failure of universities to graduate more black men has wide implications. Black illegitimacy rates are high in part because so many black men of marrying age are incarcerated, as the New York Times noted in a widely-quoted study early this year. “Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.” Black university students are the ones who escaped the cycle of violence and incarceration, and the low graduate rate is tragic. It implies that the well-intended efforts of universities to reach out to minority students too often have failed, and that the educational system will not interrupt the continued decline of conditions of life of the black American minority. In that case one might as well hunt witches. It will do as much good as anything else.
Occidental College’s faculty is considering whether or not to destroy the university as a place of serious learning — this, to absolve itself of the burden of its perceived guilt. This is a remarkable thing. Really remarkable. What kind of student would choose to attend such a place? What kind of teacher would want to join the faculty of a college that gave students the right to report them to the administration for making them feel uncomfortable?
If you are an alumnus of Occidental College, now is the time to make your voice heard.