September 30, 2005

Diversity Day: the elegiac mood dissolves into tears.

The Daily Cardinal -- a UW student newspaper -- reports:
The day-long event, which kicked off with speeches from Chancellor John Wiley and Provost Peter Spear, was intended to stimulate discussion of race issues on campus and promote a new campaign, entitled "Creating Community," a theme expected to be the centerpiece of Plan 2008 for the 2005-'06 school year.

Early in the day, enthusiasm for the new motif swelled, as each round table in the Great Hall filled with minority and white students and faculty. Later in the afternoon, however, the ranks diminished to around 50. The upbeat mood dissolved and the open-mic session took on an elegiac air as frustrated students and faculty lambasted the low attendance, perceived indifference of the campus and generally poor reputation of UW-Madison as a school friendly to minorities. Several speakers cried, and some angrily scorned Plan 2008's strategy, arguing there should be more concrete plans to diversify.
Crying over low attendance in the late afternoon? You had good attendance in the morning! How do you expect to come up with a plan to affect the decisions of real human beings when you have so little feeling for their humanity? Ordinary folks won't sit through a whole day of something like this. You're scolding them about that? I hope whoever makes the "more concrete plans" has more sense about why people do what they do.

31 comments:

Sloanasaurus said...

My problem with "diversity" functions is that the diversity training always settles on recognizing peoples differences. It seems to me that the getting around the perceived stereotyped differences should be the whole point of diversity training. As such we should concentrate on how people of different creeds are similar. In that way we will come to learn that, in general, people are the same everywhere regardless of the superficial differences.

Despite my point, I also beleive that the real goals of the liberals who push diversity training is sinister. I think they want to tear down traditional white American Culture, not try to create better understanding.

Mark Daniels said...

Perhaps what they were really mourning over was the reporter's inability to spell the word, elegiac.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: I'm the one that misspelled it. The reporter got it right. I thought he had it wrong too. Had to look it up. The "ac" ending looks weird, but the root word is "elegy," and the "y" had to become an "i," and the "ic" ending couldn't be used.

Ann Althouse said...

Sloan: I didn't attend (even in the morning), but I get the impression that the big issue is retaining students the university works hard to recruit.

pst314 said...

My immediate reactions were, first, "What, *another* diversity workshop? Yawn." and second, "I've had more than my share of dealings with UW-Madison Maoists and Stalinists. I am uninterested in attending an event dominated by people whose commitment to 'diversity' ends the moment I deviate from PC dogma."

Timothy K. Morris said...

Difference is interesting. But I'm afraid the "Diversity" movement is, well, divisive.

Jonathan said...

I agree with Sloanasaurus about the real point of these events. Why should self-respecting individuals from non-favored groups play along? Few people will respond to an invitation to be browbeaten.

Not to mention that it's stupid for organizers of any event to complain to the people who showed up about the behavior of the people who didn't. If you want people to come to your party, the least you can do is not punish them for it.

It may also be that people who organize "diversity" events are less interested in convincing people than they are in telling them what to do.

John said...

The story doesn't give us an idea of who stayed for the afternoon? Did only the minority group stick around and the indifferent white people leave?

Diversity, almost by definition, is a multi-direction street. You can't expect 'diversity' to happen if you target your message to only one group. And to your point, if that message is a day-long lecture on a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin, forget it!

Walt said...

I have a sense that diversity has become and industry rather than an objective. Once the product is stale, repackaging is not a very good option.

Jeff said...

What's needed here is a Cultural Revolution that will return the student body of UW Madison to Year Zero, enabling them to make the Great Leap Forward to a Place Called Hope!

michael a litscher said...

WAR IS PEACE: War agains the United States (i.e. supporting the Iraqi 'insurgency' of foreign fighters who murder innocent Iraqi civilians) is peace.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY: The freedom to work in a free-market economy is slavery to the bourgeois capitalistic pigs.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH: Ignorance of history's consequences of leftism is strength for the party.

DIVERSITY IS UNITY: Balkanization is the goal. See "WAR IS PEACE" above.

HATE IS LOVE: Hating George W. Bush and his Neo-Cons (read - conservative Jews) is love for humanity, nature, and social justice.

Travesty said...

"[F]rustrated students and faculty lambasted the ... generally poor reputation of UW-Madison as a school friendly to minorities."

Is this really serious? In what possible way is Madison unfriendly to minorities?

Sloanasaurus said...

"DIVERSITY IS UNITY"

Excellent. Orwell would be pleased.

Art said...

sloanasaurus said:

"DIVERSITY IS UNITY"

Excellent. Orwell would be pleased.

"Out of many, One."

---statement found on a scrap of green paper in my wallet.

Compare. Discuss.

Jeff said...

MULTICULTURALISM is a divisive political concept that has fomented racial hatred.

Ann Althouse said...

Art: Good one.

Ann Althouse said...

On second thought, Art, "E pluribus unim" expresses a desire to make the many into one. The university's diversity vision seeks to preserve and celebrate difference.

vnjagvet said...

Ann:

Thanks for pointing that out. Al Gore once made the Freudian slip in a speech intoning "e pluribus unum, out of one many".

It seems that such a slip accurately describes the new ideal that the diversity culture wishes to foist upon the country.

But they have it backwards.

Chris said...

I've always thought the college diversity movement is a lot like the difference between a Zoo and a nature preserve. The zoo may be diverse, even more diverse than the nature preserve, but it is diversity organized around the whims of the zoo manager.

In the context of the college diversity movement, you can create 'diversity' by putting a bunch of people together, but it will just be an illusory diversity. Real diversity can not be imposed, and attempts to do so will just lead to abuse by the 'zoo manager', and the creation of favored/not favored groups.

Scipio said...

Those events remind me of a sermon my priest gave years ago on the necessity of attending church regularly. It was opening weekend of NFL football, and fully half of the church had season tickets to the Detroit Lions. He wryly remarked that only the people who had heeded his message had heard it.

Sloanasaurus said...

Orwells used his three laws, Freedom is Slavery etc... to describe how a totalitarian society uses relativism to circumvent the truth... i.e., "How many fingers Winston?"

"Out of many, one.." is just a phrase that implies that many can join together to reach common goal. It is not related to circumventing the truth at all.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Diversity Day" is a great example of what I think of as "baby boomer baggage."

Coco said...

I haven't read the article Ann posted from that fine fine Madison student paper (which terribly misquoted me once) nor did I, of course, attend the seminar. The reporting suggests that the emotions of some at the forum were over-the-top. I cannot imagine, however, that the language used and discussion at that forum were more over-the-top than the comments to this post thus far.

People who attend or promote a divesity forum are "sinsister"; Maoists; Stalinists; and Orwellian fasicts? The hyperbole police are overwhelmed.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...The hyperbole police are overwhelmed...."

I don't see how this comment adds to the discussion? Some of the langugage used here IS quite appropriate. Maybe you should explain why it isn't rather than smugly asserting that it isn't

knoxgirl said...

Did they make people watch "Free To Be You and Me" ?

Coco said...

"I don't see how this comment adds to the discussion? Some of the langugage used here IS quite appropriate. Maybe you should explain why it isn't rather than smugly asserting that it isn't"

How is a blancket denouncement of people who attend or promote a diversity day function as Maosists and Stalinists "appropriate language? How is even a "discussion." Any person who actually wants to have a discussion about Ann's post would recognize such labeling as excessive hyperbole - wouldn't they?

Even though its obvious: such language is "inappropriate" becuase Mao and Stalin were responsible for the systematic murder of scads of people, becuase they tortured people, becuase they starved people....etc. etc. And people who attend or promote a diversity day have simply no intention of doing such things and thus the comparison is hyperbolic.

It would surely have been inappropriate of me to respond to your first comment: that liberals who push diversity training are sinsiter becuase they want to tear down traditional white culture (whatever that means in an event) by comparing you to a Nazi. Wouldn't it have? It would have been senseless hyperbole without any point other than name calling.

(And let me be clear that I am not calling you a Nazi, a racist, nor anything else sinister - I use the example just to make the point)

All that aside, I'm game for a discussion. Why don't you explain how diversity training is "sinister"? And why you think people who promote it are trying to tear down white American Cuture? I'm also very interested in knowing what "white American Culture" is?

I can't address the latter two questions but I can share that
I've attended many diversity seminars and I've never sniffed an ounce of what you are describing. The management of my employers (all of whom were white) have often hosted and "pushed" diversity training )in that it was mandatory) and I never got the idea they were trying to tear down "traditional White American culture". Instead, we have had fairly thorough discussions of why we seemed to hire very few minorities, why many of the ones we do hire seemed to leave within a relatively short time frame, why it is important to respect jewish holidays and traditions for the numerous jewish employees we have, etc. These all seemed like very reasonable topics and the programs seemed well received. I don't think that any of the participants felt that traditional white American Culture (again, whatever that is) was being attacked.

Coco said...

"Free to Be You and Me" - Great flashback knoxgirl. My sister had that album when I was a kid and listened to it over and over and over again. Wasn't Michael Jackson on that show?

Sloanasaurus said...

Thanks for the post. I think Diversity training is a great thing, and something we should all continue to have. I apologize for anything stated there that implies otherwise. The Bill Bennett debate today has reminded me that this is not a topic worth debating. There is only downside.

Coco said...

You can choose to disengage from the discussion if you like Sloanasaurus. I would like to be clear, however, that I only asked you to explain your viewpoints. Your last post suggests you believe you have been "victimized" by some form of political correctness. If you don't believe that - fine and I apologize for misreading your post as sarcasm. If you do, my assumption is that you would rather believe this than actually explain your previous comments.

Goatwhacker said...

I wish the article would elaborate more on the content of the program. The little that is mentioned sure wouldn't fill up a day-long event. Maybe people were turned off or bored by the morning session so bailed out? Perhaps the event's leaders need to look at themselves as part of the problem? The article shows two guys dancing - a little dancing I can handle but after a while I'd be bailing out, too.

On the topic of diversity training, this program doesn't really seem to fit that description. It was geared towards increasing minority retention, and if I read between the lines correctly it sounds like it was kind of a gripe session.

As the father of a college student, I would hope she wouldn't miss too many classes to attend this kind of thing.

Mark said...

There were a lot of minorities on campus in the 80s when I was there. Isn't Madison attracting Asian and Middle-Eastern grad students anymore?