CUNY Adds Category "White/Jewish" to Diversity Action Plan

Ashley Thorne

Our New York affiliate brought our attention to a new category in the Diversity Action Plan of the City University of New York (CUNY): "White/Jewish." Apparently the addition of the category was a response to alleged bias.

The New York Post has the story and quotes New York Association of Scholars president David Gordon:

“This is, as far as I know, the first time a religion has been introduced into any affirmative-action document,” said David Gordon, a history professor at Bronx Community College and the Graduate Center. “What would the response be to a category ‘White/Methodist?’ Silly? Irrelevant?”

NAS president Peter Wood wrote at the Chronicle:

Diversity, of course, is a kind of spoils system. It is the rubric under which an identity group that claims to be the victim of past or current discrimination can lodge a claim for preferential treatment in admissions, hiring, promotion, and access to other social goods within the academic enterprise. The controversy in Massachusetts over Senatorial candidate Elizabeth’s Warren’s claim to be 1/32 Cherokee turns on whether she used this identity group affiliation to gain a leg up in her job applications for faculty positions at the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 and Harvard Law School in 1992.

But identity group labels seldom work as their proponents hope. They can have the unintended consequence of stigmatizing members of the designated groups; they can result in “mismatching” individuals to educational opportunities and thereby undermining their academic performance; they can expose individuals such as Elizabeth Warren to harsh criticism for manipulating rules to personal advantage; and they can be used as tools of exclusion if a group is judged to be “overrepresented.”

And the New York Association of Scholars released its own statement:

It is disturbing that the CUNY Administration resuscitates a divisive issue of no relevance to the education of our students. The suggestion of a new religious classification - “White/Jewish” - is particularly unfortunate. We urge the University to honor its own Policy Statement, which declares that it will “recruit, employ, retain, promote, and provide benefits to employees . . . without regard to race, color, creed, etc” [Policy Statement of July 1, 2010].

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