W. Lee Hansen, a professor emeritus of economics at UW-Madison wrote in an op-ed piece for the John William Hope Pope Center for Higher Education, a North Carolina-based think tank, about the latest “diversity” plan for the UW-System’s flagship school. The plan, completed in May, is your typical left-wing platitudes about commitments to “compositional diversity,” “equity mindedness” “representational equity” and other things for what has become a sacred cow to liberal academia.
But when you dig deeper into the definitions of these platitudes according to Hansen, you suddenly see that “representational equity” is being applied to levels never before seen.
Let us take a closer look at one of these working definitions included, namely “representational equity.”
It calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”
We are not told exactly what adherence to this will entail. It appears to mean that directors of programs and departmental chairs will have to somehow ensure that they have a mix of students with just the right percentages of individuals who embody the various “differences” included in the definition of diversity. I cannot see how that is possible and even if it were, how it improves any student’s education.
Get all that?
UW-Madison’s diversity guidelines state that if a course, major or program is in high demand, special status must be given to ensure the make-up of the class (and thus those taking the major) is racially and ethnically diverse with “just the right percentages.” Meaning, it would be justifiable for a placement in hard-to-get-in classes and prerequisites for specific majors be awarded to students based sole on their race.
But it may be worse than that.
Especially shocking is the language about “equity” in the distribution of grades. Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, “historically underrepresented racial/ethnic” students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.
At the very least, this means even greater expenditures on special tutoring for weaker targeted minority students. It is also likely to trigger a new outbreak of grade inflation, as professors find out that they can avoid trouble over “inequitable” grade distributions by giving every student a high grade.
In short, the new diversity requirements seem to say that campus commitment to diversity is so important that the grading system itself must be sacrificed. This would mean, according to Hansen and others, an environment now exists where academic performance no longer matters. That for the diversity crowd, all that seems to be of value would be that “historically underrepresented racial/ethnic” students be awarded “equitable” grades to their counterparts, regardless.
If what Hansen is saying is true at UW-Madison, then it will be up to officials from the regents, to faculty, to parents and students, to begin questioning the mission statement of the university.
Are they still an institute of higher learning, or an institute of higher diversity?