Campus segregation programs raise many questions that deserve answers

Wayne Hoffman Articles, Education Leave a Comment

Writing recently in the National Review, Peter N. Kirsanow, an attorney and member of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights, calls for  an end to segregationist activities on college campuses across the country. He notes that they have done nothing to reduce the student achievement gap and have increased racial resentment.

“Yet campus segregation has expanded from separate orientations to separate counselors to separate dormitories to separate cultural centers to separate academic awards to separate graduations,” Kirsanow wrote. 

Kirsanow highlighted a report released in April by the National Association of Scholars, a national reform group. The association is publishing a series of reports that look at what it calls “neo-segregation.” Neo-segregation is the deliberate attempt to group students on college campuses by race or other identifying characteristics. The president of the NAS, Peter Wood, says neo-segregation “is a disguised form of political oppression.”

“Neo-segregation harms the students it pretends to protect,” Wood has written, adding that it prompts minority students to live in fear of others. “Higher education should liberate them from this fear and give them the freedom to be full participants in American society.”

“The public should care because neo-segregation is the breeding ground of racial conflict in American society. Neo-segregation inculcates in young people the readiness to cling to a victim identity at the expense of becoming a positive member of the larger community,” Wood wrote. 

Such concerns should be of interest to Idaho taxpayers, college students, Idaho lawmakers, and Gov. Brad Little. After all, they prompt myriad questions: How do Idaho’s universities decide which races, religions, sexual orientations, and other identities deserve special recognition and which do not? For example, the University of Idaho has an LBGTQA office with one full-time employee. Why is there not a special office that caters to the needs of short people? Overweight individuals? Or how about an office for Jews, like me, who have been marginalized, enslaved, and even murdered, just for who they are?

If “Black Graduation” and “Rainbow Graduation” at Boise State University and “Lavender Graduation” at the University of Idaho are OK and, indeed, important, what other policies should Idaho adopt in the name of “diversity” and “inclusion”? Should Idaho’s colleges and universities also follow the lead of others and put in place affirmative action programs? Quota systems for students based on minority status? Segregated housing for students based on race or other factors related to being a minority group? 

Other questions: Do these programs increase diversity and inclusion, or do they create new ways for students to withdraw from the greater student body population? Are schools catering to the needs of the truly underrepresented minority student, or are they pandering to populations that have some political clout, while ignoring those that truly marginalized? Are these programs, as other critics argue, actually hurting efforts to promote diversity on campuses and hurting students in the process? 

Wrote Kirsanow, ”Separate was once considered inherently unequal. Apparently, it depends. … The National Association of Scholars has done a public service in issuing this report. Given neo-segregation’s 40-year record of failure, all I can say is: End it now.” Idaho officials now have a chance to consider the evidence and do exactly that.