Intellectual differences are more important than multiculturalism

By and

There’s been a lot of talk recently about diversity. Some on campus are concerned that our new white and LDS president Michael Young will not promote diversity even though he has adamantly said he will.

There is a belief that the U must directly recruit multicultural students to have a diverse campus. In a recent meeting with student leaders at the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs, President Young said his approach is to focus first on quality and then diversity will naturally follow. This is the appropriate strategy.

Real diversity is created by people who have reflected on their lives and behavior to decisively be apart from the status quo or follow a less common lifestyle. Diversity comes from critical examination.

We can fill rooms of students of all sorts of color and descent, but is that real diversity?

In intellectual discussion (which we pay tuition to be part of) we need to hear diverse opinions. We need to hear students critique Keynesian theory in economics classes. We need reasonable objections to Freudian theory in psychology. We need to hear students offer rational alternatives to ecological data presented in class.

This is intellectual diversity and it is the kind of diversity that matters on a college campus.

It is possible to have a Samoan, a Korean and an Argentine in a class together who are all LDS, Bountiful High School graduates, who all shop at American Eagle and all drive Honda Civics. When it comes to opinions, there wouldn’t be enough diversity to shake a stick at.

Likewise, I’ve sat in classes of almost all white, male, and predominately LDS students and heard a broad range of relevant inputs and objections.

Real diversity improves the intellectual quality of classes. Yet the diversity that many fight to achieve is merely a diversity of checked boxes on the ethnicity question part of an application.

This is shallow thinking.

This shallow thinking has consequences that are detrimental to education. It instills an inhibiting fear in white students that proponents of shallow diversity will use the label of “racist” as a guillotine blade ready to fall if they disagree with someone’s views about multiculturalism.

Self-proclaimed promoters of diversity should encourage all perspectives with the same tolerance and acceptance that they demand.

Establishing policies and curriculum of honest intellectual inquiry promotes diversity. Recruiting students who step up to the challenge that intellectual inquiry demands will ensure a diverse and reputable student body.

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