Friday, November 27, 2015

fearless access and exposure maximization separates life's winners from its losers...,

WaPo |  Over the past four decades, whenever universities have faced complaints about exclusion or racism — often real — the solution proposed and usually accepted has been to create more programs, associations and courses for minority students. This is understandable, because these groups have been historically ignored, slighted and demeaned. But is this solution working, or is it making things worse?

A 2004 empirical study led by Harvard University psychologist James Sidanius (who is African American) concluded that “there was no indication that the experiences in these ethnically oriented . . . organizations increased the students’ sense of common identity with members of other groups or their sense of belonging to the wider university community. Furthermore . . . the evidence suggested that membership in ethnically oriented student organizations actually increased the perception that ethnic groups are locked into zero-sum competition with one another and the feeling of victimization by virtue of one’s ethnicity.”

The academic programs that have been created and expanded also reinforce feelings of separateness. Again, there was a need for greater attention to many of the areas of study, and some extraordinary scholarship has been produced in these fields. But the cumulative effect is one that distinguished scholar Tony Judt wrote about in an essay for the New York Review of Books in 2010. “Undergraduates today can select from a swathe of identity studies: ‘gender studies,’ ‘women’s studies,’ ‘Asian-Pacific-American studies,’ and dozens of others,” he noted. “The shortcoming of all these para-academic programs is not that they concentrate on a given ethnic or geographical minority; it is that they encourage members of that minority to study themselves — thereby simultaneously negating the goals of a liberal education and reinforcing the sectarian and ghetto mentalities they purport to undermine. All too frequently, such programs are job-creation schemes for their incumbents, and outside interest is actively discouraged. Blacks study blacks, gays study gays, and so forth.”