Diversity in action
Posted by lpearle on 19 October 2010
At the start of each year, our Admissions Office reports on the composition of the student body: male/female ratio, class sizes, and how many students come from HUGS (“historically underrepresented groups”). What they don’t report is diversity in learning styles, economic status, sexual orientation, athletes vs. artists, science nerds vs. humanities fanatics, and other equally good measures of ‘diversity’.
As a faculty, I’d argue that we’re relatively diverse with one major exception: the liberals far outweigh the conservatives. That’s not a slant that’s new to academic institutions – it’s been reported on, and decried by conservatives, for years.
One of the things I’m proud of, perhaps incorrectly, is that I keep my biases and personal preferences relatively hidden and am neutral on most “hot button” issues . Even the topic of what my personal favorite genre for reading is not something I’ll readily discuss (dark mysteries, but that doesn’t mean I won’t drop everything and read a student suggestion in any genre).
So last week, after observing back-to-back conversations with two students, my assistant laughed at the diversity I was showing. One student, a leader in the Young Conservatives club, is considering ROTC in college… the other is a leader in our GSA and was so excited about having met Kate Bornstein. And I thoroughly enjoyed both conversations and genuinely like both students. There are adults at MPOW, and at MFPOW, would couldn’t do that (I worked with one woman who would grade conservatives more harshly than liberals, and boys that were conservatives harshest of all. Sad thing is, the students knew it because she was so open about her biases. And one person I currently work with said how sorry he was that most of my family are die-hard Republicans.)
I’d like to think I’m doing my bit to keep diversity alive.