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A Hope-Giving Comment from Dr. Kim

MLK.jpgAnother nugget from President Kim’s interview in the current edition of the Alumni Magazine, this time one that gives me grounds for optimism:

Kim is a sharp critic of prevailing approaches to diversity at colleges and universities because they overlook the fundamental role of cultural identity in how people see the world and apply their intellect and creativity. He cites, among other examples, the largely racially based method of measuring and describing population mix — black, white, Asian, Hispanic — and the prevalence of “political correctness” which, according to Kim, stifles honest engagement and hides issues that ought to be aired.
“The way we deal with diversity on American campuses is so superficial that it is dangerous,” Kim says. “The worst of it is that smart young people can see through the superficiality and conclude that diversity is not important or that the shallow, stylized way we deal with cultural competence is sufficient. It is not. In the end we have to understand each other’s humanity.”

May I suggest a paraphrase of this remark:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

All that said, one of the first ways that Dr. Kim can implement his vision is to cease the sorting of incoming students by their race, as is currently done:

Race.jpg

Race OPAL.jpg

And his next step would be to restructure OPAL (Dartmouth’s regrettably — and misleadingly — named Office of Pluralism and Leadership that had a budget somewhere north of $1M the last time that I saw figures) so that it helps us “to understand each other’s humanity” rather than actively working to reinforce the false distinctions that Dr. Kim decries.

We’ll keep an eye on this topic to see if the walk follows the good talk.

Note: Having been in classes with students from China, India and Africa, I wonder how the Admissions Office classifies them? Students from China and India are not Asian-Americans, and students from Zimbabwe are not African-American, are they?

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