Sunday, December 17, 2006

 

The Face of the Faculty


We got a kick out of this Rice Thresher article. Once we eyed the title we just knew it had something to do with "diversity." We mean, come on -- "Face of the Faculty"? And sure enough, we weren't disappointed.

The story concentrates on one Joan Strassman, who way back in 1981 -- Neanderthal-like days for "diversity," "multiculturalism" and "sensitivity" -- felt "disenfranchised" as the only female faculty member in the Biology Dept. She claims decisions were made without her input, but we're left to wonder: Even if her input was considered -- and then opposed -- wouldn't that, in effect, still make her feel "disenfranchised"?

Strassman then bemoans that she was not granted maternity leave. Now, wait one damn second!! Aren't we constantly lectured by anointed ivory-tower dwelling feminists that there is essentially no difference between the genders? So why should Strassman be granted a leave for which no testosterone-laden colleague can partake? This to us sounds like discrimination! Bias!

Of course, as mentioned, the article is all about the "need" for a diverse faculty ... because this somehow "benefits" the student body. We won't bother covering the usual inanity of such a belief, but instead want to point out a few contradictions to the "diversity" credo. For instance, Dean of Natural Sciences Kathy Matthews "said her department is taking strong initiatives in recruiting women faculty with a program called ADVANCE." She states,

“There is a biological reality, and that is that the childbearing years correspond pretty strongly to the years of graduate school, post-doctoral [fellowships], and the years that you have to put in to be tenured as a faculty member,” Matthews said. “Some women are not willing to give up those childbearing years or to do what is necessary during those childbearing years to pursue a faculty position.”

Again! A "biological reality"? A phrase uttered by a Dean of a college? Unthinkable! We're left wondering why these "biological realities" are not taken into account, for instance, in discussions regarding Title IX -- the section of the Civil Rights Act which has been used to mandate "equal time" for males and females in college sports. We mean, let's face it -- men's sports are much more exciting to watch mainly because of the "biological reality" that men are stronger and faster than women. Y'know, this might just somehow explain why there are no women in the four major professional sports leagues. Well, aside from ball girls and cheerleaders, that is.

Back to Strassman:

Strassmann said that a diverse faculty is critical to an undergraduate student’s education.

“People vary in how they teach and what they put emphasis on, and some of that variation comes from different life experiences, which men and women have in this culture, and so do minorities,” Strassmann said. “And if you have all one flavor of faculty, you’re just not going to get that.”

Student Center Director Boyd Beckwith, who was instrumental in promoting gay-friendly hiring policies at Rice, agrees.

“I think [that a diverse faculty is important] in the same way that a diversified student body is important to any student’s education,” Beckwith said. “I think oftentimes students learn as much from each other because they’re from different backgrounds as they do in the classroom.”

Unfortunately for these two educators, their beliefs are just that -- beliefs. Little to no research has yet demonstrated any tangible effects of the nebulous designation "diversity." At best they're making "educated guesses." But keep in mind Strassman's solicitude for diversity, for later in the article when discussing the success of a black female student who went on to become an ecology professor ...

“I’d say that minority students aren’t really different from any others,” Strassmann said. “I think what’s important is to welcome them into the lab, to try to have enough minority students in the group that they feel comfortable. Sometimes that makes a difference, sometimes it doesn’t. I’d like to see every student doing research.”

WAIT!! "Minority students aren't really different from others?" If they're not really different, prof., then why the overwhelming need for a diverse faculty (and student body)? And is "diversity" meant to improve educational results ... or to make students "feel comfortable"?

Frankly, we're amazed that Prof. Strassman and Dean Matthews used the terminology that they did. Not only did they contravene themselves, they impugned diversiphiles across the American college landscape. If their dogma of diversity wasn't so firmly entrenched, we'd bet that they'd have to spend at least one session in a "sensitivity" gulag.

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