Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Idea of diversity has backfired

Published: November 9, 2007
Section: Opinions

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In his speech, Dr. King famously stated, I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I think he would be terribly disappointed in society if he were alive today. Our sense of racism barely faltered, and our efforts to counter it have only made the problem worse.

In order to move away from the days of segregation, our society long ago came up with the idea of diversity, which was meant to give everyone an equal chance at success. It was a great idea on paper, but in practice, it has completely backfired. As college students, we have a unique understanding of this because colleges are textbook examples of how the idea of diversity has been turned on its head.

For years I have heard that well respected institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and MIT favor foreign students and professors. However, when I came to Brandeis, I was sure that a university with such a reputation of social justice would have an answer to this problem. Now I am beginning to wonder where this reputation even came from. At Brandeis our Student Union has special positions set aside for minorities, the Senator for Racial Minority Students and Finance Board Member for Racial Minority Students. Unlike the other positions in the Student Union, these can only be contested and voted upon by registered racial minorities. How is that justice? Giving minority students more power than other students cannot possibly solve anything. It will only make our campus more unbalanced.

Brandeis is such an accepting environment that when a few students accused a professor who taught for 46 years of making racist comments, the entire campus jumped on him. The key word here is accused. Did the investigators contact his other students, or his former students? Nope. They laid out punishment guidelines. Now I am not an expert on Latin America, but I know that Latin American society, like any other, is full of its own racism. If I were to take the accused Professor Hindleys class on Latin American Politics, I would expect to deal with this racism. In fact, many of his students have come forward saying that the professors comments were made in order to teach this. Unfortunately, our school is so proud of its racial representation that it cannot let anything as offensive as a lesson plan take away from our social image.

I truly wonder how the Student Union and the Administration plans to make our school diverse. Will admissions recruit prospective students solely based on their ethnicity, to the point where they ignore grades and work with quotas? This is a scary thought. The very idea of diversity, brilliant as it may be, has been grossly overused. Committees or governments cannot force diversity;

it must be allowed to happen naturally. Brandeis would be much better of if it were to throw away this dream of a racial utopia and accept its students and faculty on academic qualifications alone.

When he made his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King understood that all races deserved to live equally. He did not want to see minorities take revenge on whites;

he was a man of peace, and a great man at that. I believe that we as a society have failed Dr. King by allowing racism to flourish in subtler, yet more dangerous forms. If only we would forget about color, forget about race, and judge all men and women by the content of their character. Maybe if we can learn to do that, we will finally have a society to be proud of.