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Will Phil Stop a Diversity Course?

Three or four scandals ago — I think it was during the RealTalk class shutdown — there was talk of a mandatory diversity course. Level-headed people observed that the idea was the ideological equivalent of a post-Fall-of-Saigon reeducation center, but Charlotte Johnson and her camp followers were all hot for the proposal. What a great chance for the Dean of the College office to extend its influence into the academic side of Dartmouth life. Memories being what they are, the Freedom Budget’s grab bag of proposals made no mention of such a course. Probably an oversight. There is nothing more important to a Rickford-radical than raising the consciousness of the lumpenbourgeoisie.

How will Phil respond when the thought inevitably resurfaces? You say you want some resolution out of Phil in the face of the people who want to change the world? I’m hoping that he’ll say, “You can count me out,” but don’t bet on it. Phil seems to be telegraphing us these days that he takes the path of least shortterm resistance in such matters. What’s even more disturbing is that such a course requirement already exists at, oh no, the University of Michigan:

Michigan Race and Ethnicity Comp.jpg

Where Michigan goes, is Dartmouth sure to follow? How about this January 20, 2014 story from the Ann Arbor News? Looks like déjà  vu all over again to me:

Being Black at University of Michigan organizers threaten ‘physical action’ if demands aren’t met

Activists on the steps of Hill Auditorium Monday said that University of Michigan officials have seven days to meet seven demands addressing lack of diversity and inclusion at U-M or ‘physical actions’ will be taken on campus.

Speaking after a speech inside the auditorium by civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, representatives of the University of Michigan Black Student Union — the group that started the Being Black at University of Michigan (#BBUM) movement in the fall — issued a set of seven demands that they see as vital to improving life for minority students on campus…

University of Michigan spokesman Rick Fitzgerald issued the following statement in response to the demands from BBUM organizers:

“Provost Pollack’s message to the University community last Thursday provided an outline of very specific steps. University officials at the highest level share the concerns of our students, faculty and staff. This morning you heard President Coleman reiterate the short-term action the university has taken, and the long-term commitment to continue to talk with students as well as work with them to address their concerns.”

One of the demands issued by the students of color at Michigan was the re-positioning of the Trotter Multicultural Center to the central campus. In the face of the ultimatum, Dartmouth alumna and Michigan Provost Martha Pollock ‘79 didn’t move the center, but she did agree to give it a $300,000 facelift. Phil’s campus climate survey is probably the first of the goodies that he will give to the Freedom Budget bullies.

Phil, I am starting to get used to timidity from your administration, but please don’t bore us with unoriginality, too.

Addendum: Inside Higher Education has run a short piece on the occupation of Parkhurst. The national press won’t be far behind. In other, not-unrelated news, Dean of Admissions Maria Laskaris ‘84 is preparing a plan to pay people to apply to the College. Details of her exciting “Get into the Green” initiative are still being worked out.

Erratum: A student with eyes sharper than your humble servant’s has noted that the FB did, in fact, contain a demand for curricular change:

Enact curricular changes that require all students to interrogate issues of social justice, marginalization and exploitation in depth. Each student should have to take classes that will challenge their understanding of institutionalized injustice around issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. This learning objective could be embedded in all first year seminars.

Come to think of it, why not have the entire College focus on issues of social justice? All that other stuff is of no importance, don’t you think?


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