The headline of the local Chico, California newspaper was “Chico State planning for greater diversity”1. The front page story was about the now infamous California State University, Chico (CSU Chico) Diversity Action Plan that has been accurately described in Attack of the Giant Plethora2, $600 for “Teaching to Diversity” at CSU Chico3 and from Diversity to Sustainability: How Campus Ideology Is Born.4 As I read the comments of the CSU Chico’s administrators, I noted how representative they were of the sloppy thinking and cynical dishonesty of many so-called diversity advocates.
According to the newspaper article, Gayle Hutchinson, Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at CSU Chico, had enthusiastically explained that the university’s goal was “to increase the presence and impact of a variety of groups that may be inadequately represented” and “to create greater diversity at Chico State.” She also said that at CSU Chico diversity meant “ability, age, culture, race/ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexuality, regional and national origin, political orientation, religion and socio-economic background.” This unusual list of variables immediately struck me as unrealistic and perhaps illegal to track. The article also reported that CSU Chico would have a “Chief Diversity Officer” whose job would be to “measure progress at increasing diversity.”
Let us consider how CSU Chico’s Chief Diversity Officer might go about measuring and tracking the demographic, behavioral and belief variables that Dean Hutchinson listed. Will CSU Chico survey student and faculty applicants concerning their political orientation or religion? Will the Chief Diversity Officer someday say, “We don’t have enough students who are Republican or Evangelical Christian,” or “we have too many progressive Democrats”? Will a student or faculty applicant someday be rejected because their religion is overrepresented? Just how might the Chief Diversity Officer determine whether CSU Chico has the requisite diversity of “gender expression”? Perhaps by asking applicants, “Do you ever cross-dress?” Maybe to determine “sexuality” they will ask students about the quality and frequency of sexual relations, or perhaps ask them to rate their interest in sexual activity on a scale of 1 to 10. Perhaps Dean Hutchinson meant sexual orientation instead of sexuality, but is CSU Chico planning on asking student and faculty applicants about their private sexual preferences? Maybe they will take a more underhanded approach by requiring every applicant to submit a photo and write an essay on how they would contribute to diversity at CSU Chico. Then if an applicant doesn’t reveal enough personal information or doesn’t look like a minority, they can be safely rejected using the charade of the “whole person” concept. If you think this last option might be a bit farfetched then please read College Application Essays: Going Beyond “How Would You Contribute to Diversity?".5
What exactly did Dean Hutchinson mean by increasing the diversity of ages and abilities? Is Dean Hutchinson expecting to increase the number of middle-aged adults and seniors in undergraduate classes? What abilities was she specifically referring to? Mental, physical? Or was it to some restrictions in those abilities that she was referring? What exactly are those “abilities” that are so important and “may be inadequately represented” that CSU Chico is willing to spend precious funds to locate and recruit people with them? Is Dean Hutchinson implying that people of color or of a specific ethnicity have special abilities not found in the white population? What exactly did Dean Hutchinson mean, by “regional and national” origin, considering that CSU Chico is a state university with a mission of providing higher education opportunities to the sons and daughters of California burdened tax payers?
Dean Hutchinson also said in the article that in her vision of such a segmented university, there would be “a richness of ideas, of perspectives, a cultural richness” which means that they “can’t help but achieve excellence.” I immediately wondered what could possibly be her definition of excellence and what she thought CSU Chico would be excellent in. Does Dean Hutchinson and the university’s administration really think that the quality of the instruction or the preparation and quality of the students will improve just because there will supposedly be more varied demographics and behaviors among the students and faculty? Does Dean Hutchinson really think that a directed mix of demographics, behavioral and belief characteristics can overcome the crowded classes, the lack of preparation or commitment of many students, the low academic expectations or disorganization of some faculty and a general culture of mediocrity? Does the leadership of CSU Chico really think that its vision of diversity will be a panacea for all the academic, infrastructure and funding inadequacies of CSU Chico?
Is Dean Hutchinson’s expectation of an increase in the “richness of ideas, of perspectives” realistic? What exactly could she be referring to by “richness” of ideas? Can we rate ideas according to their “richness”? Can we tell a student that their opinion or perspective lacks richness? If Dean Hutchinson is claiming that there will be more, different or better ideas, then she is implying that the current students have some difficulty with original thinking or that the quality of their thinking is poor because of their demographics or behavioral preferences. It also implies that her directed population mix would somehow be more creative, more original, or better thinkers just because of their amount of skin pigment or ethnicity, or of the demographics around them. Could Dean Hutchinson really believe that the quality or variety of a student’s ideas will be increased due to the age, sexuality or race of the person sitting next to them in class?
Was Dean Hutchinson trying to be disingenuous? No, instead I suggest that Dean Hutchinson was just enjoying a moment of diversity ecstasy, a condition characterized by being out-of-touch with reality and by illogical babbling. Unfortunately, there are many like Dean Hutchinson, happily oblivious to the irrationality and absurdness of their explanation of their diversity doctrine and plans. I suggest that for such people, “diversity” has become a sort of doctrine of faith, blinding them from reality and providing them with immunity against arguments of science, fact or logic. Like cult members they can take pleasure in the mindless repetition of vague doctrine and confused rationalizations.
CSU Chico President Zingg was also quoted in the article. Unlike Dean Hutchinson, it appears that President Zingg is fully aware of his duplicity. Zingg had the audacity to claim that his administration is not breaking California law. “We do not give special consideration to applicants because of their race/ethnicity” Zingg claimed. He then went on to admit, “But we do try to encourage applicants from schools that have a very diverse student population.” The newspaper article explained that CSU Chico has special recruitment arrangements with selected “diverse” schools. If Zingg were honest he would have said, “To circumvent the law we claim to be just giving special attention to schools that happen to have lots of minority students, when in fact we are recruiting selectively to avoid potential white students.’” Unfortunately, there are many like Zingg, Machiavellians who will use any false justification, loophole or disingenuous rationalization to disguise their implementation of de facto race and ethnicity quotas. In their mind, their social agenda justifies the use of any means.
In 1996 the voters of California passed Proposition 209 amending the state constitution to prohibit public institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity. The meaning of that vote was crystal clear. No person’s race, ethnicity or gender should ever be a factor in any admission or hiring decision by a public institution or organization. Yet in California, in 2010, state universities are circumventing the will of the people, and all they have to defend their actions with are illogical babble and disingenuous rationalizations. What is that teaching their students?
Douglas G. Campbell retired from California State University, Chico, in 2009. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chico Enterprise Record, September 13, 2010, page 1
Attack of the Giant Plethora, 04/22/2010, Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne, available at /articles/Attack_of_the_Giant_Plethora
$600 for “Teaching to Diversity” at CSU Chico, October 15, 2010, Ashley Thorne, available at: /articles/600_for_Teaching_to_Diversity_at_CSU_Chico
From Diversity to Sustainability: How Campus Ideology Is Born, October 3, 2010, Peter Wood, available at: http://chronicle.com/article/From-Diversity-to/124773
College Application Essays: Going Beyond "How Would You Contribute to Diversity?", November 04, 2010, Glenn Ricketts and Peter Wood, available at: /articles/College_Application_Essays_Going_Beyond_How_Would_You_Contribute_to_Diversi