College students today inevitably find themselves surrounded by the latest fad in academia: diversity education. This academic revolution permeates universities, ranging from freshman orientation programs to “minority perspective” history courses. Fittingly, my first academic experience at Brown University was focused on diversity and multiculturalism. In the excitement of orientation, I unsuspectingly signed up for Building Understanding Across Differences (BUAD), Brown University’s freshman orientation “diversity program.” A discussion of issues relating to “differing social identities related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and class” seemed intriguing.
Prior to any discussion of the issues, we were instructed by the faculty leader of the program that if we are hurt by anyone’s comments or feel uncomfortable in any way, we should immediately “raise our hand and say ‘OUCH.” At this point, the discussion will be stopped, and the student will share his/her feelings on the matter. When I noticed that I was the only one in the room laughing at this instruction, I recognized that it was not intended to be a joke. Though it seemed childish, I figured that maybe it was not such a bad rule. Maybe certain guidelines were needed to control extremists and racists, so that the rest of us could discuss such sensitive issues meaningfully.
After watching a Katie Couric documentary that explored the widespread bigotry and racism of America, I raised my hand to argue that racial profiling, in certain instances, can make our country safer. (It’s no secret that while most Muslims are not terrorists, most terrorists are Muslims.) Immediately, several students raised their hands and yelled “OUCH.” I was “OUCHed” again a few moments later when I suggested that Affirmative Action causes less qualified minorities to be admitted over other white and Asian applicants. After I was promptly silenced, I was assured by a fellow BUAD member that despite Affirmative Action, minorities at Brown, on average, have grades just as high as other applicants. It was at this point that it hit me: I was the racist, extremist, bigot that the OUCH rule was intended to quash. Of course, it was nothing against me personally. In fact, being a minority myself, I was considered to be part of the family until I had given my opinion. Rather, BUAD objected to the fact that I had broken the unstated rule. I had dared to utter an opinion that did not fall in line with the politically correct, self-victimization rhetoric that fuels the fire of diversity education. I resisted the inherent political agenda of the program, seen in their propensity to stir up blatantly anti-American thinking. The premise of BUAD is clear: America is a racist, elitist, homophobic, misogynistic nation. No mention was given to the fact that America was built on the principles of liberty and transformed itself into the most inclusive, egalitarian nation in the world.
While it is easy to shrug off BUAD and other “diversity” programs as nothing more than laughable examples of far-left multiculturalism at work, the long term consequences of this university-funded asininity threaten the integrity of academic inquiry. In truth, BUAD, like diversity programs in schools across the country, are not interested in actually “increasing understanding and dialogue among students of differing social identities related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and class.” This is simply a front for promoting a fiercely political agenda. Since indoctrination is incompatible with free speech and honest debate, diversity programs deliberately engage in censorship and race-conscious rhetoric. Ironically, these are precisely the root causes of the culture that diversity education claims to counter, this being, an environment of ignorance, self-victimization, and division on campus.
Moreover, if the best colleges and universities of our nation continue to create a generation of leaders who do not believe in the democratic principles of America, they have failed in their core missions to build a society in which all members can assimilate fairly and equally. It is time for academia to abandon the sham they call diversity education and return to the virtues of a classical liberal education. Only an education that is politically neutral, yet strongly rooted in the ideals of freedom, equality, and a vigorous pursuit of absolute truth can provide students with the college education they deserve.
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