Northwestern University has pulled out all the stops to promote campus diversity, hiring three new diversity administrators and adding a “social inequalities” course requirement.
The efforts are largely a reaction to two campus incidents. In January of 2012, a Latina student was heckled by intoxicated female pedestrians who asked her, “What, no hablas ingles?” And in May, a white man threw eggs at two Asian students at the university tennis courts.
In the wake of the incidents, 150 students participated in a race rally led by Tonantzin Carmona, the heckled Latina student. A subsequent event was held in the House of African-American Student Affairs, where students decided to form an official group to promote diversity and desegregation. They called themselves “The Collective,” according to The College Fix.
“I still don’t feel like the university is doing enough,” said Roger Almendarez, a member of The Collective, in a statement. “The Collective will be pushing for the university to hire diversity officers to increase diversity at Northwestern.”
The push worked, and Northwestern hired three additional administrators dedicated to the sole task of promoting diversity and making campus life more amenable for minority students. These new hires were Dona Cordero, assistant provost of diversity and inclusion, Lesley-Ann Brown, director of campus inclusion and community, and Devin Moss, director of the LGBT resource center.
Cordero immediately formed a diversity council consisting of the three administrators and seven other Northwestern diversity personnel, according to The Daily Northwestern. The council wants to better publicize the things its members are already doing to promote diversity, and bring more diversity-oriented speakers to campus.
Supplementing the council’s efforts is a forthcoming course requirement, “Social Inequalities and Diversity.” In order to graduate, all students will need to take a class that fulfills the requirement.
While specific details have not yet been released, a draft of the proposal explains that one of the goals of the new requirement is to help students, “recognize their own positionality in systems of inequality, engage in self-reflection on power and privilege, and learn to engage productively with others who are different.”
Some students said Northwestern was merely fixing its past mistakes.
“The measures are absolutely necessary,” wrote Steven Monacelli, a senior at the university, in an e-mail to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Despite attending a fairly diverse school, many students have little knowledge of and express little concern for both the historic and contemporary struggles that many minority groups face in this country.”
But others expressed the view that Northwestern was going overboard on its commitment to a nebulous concept.
“The chief superstition on this campus is the mindless plea for ‘diversity,'” wrote Paul Cozzi, a senior, in an e-mail to TheDC News Foundation. “While it claims to promote cooperation and to enhance student opportunities, it merely creates division and a type of juvenile victimization that most of us outgrew in our teens.”
The university’s approach to diversity was heavy handed and one sided, said junior Alex Jakubowski.
“We should be starting a dialogue about race, not imposing narratives and perspectives to rid ourselves of guilt,” he wrote in an e-mail to TheDC News Foundation.
The university did not respond to requests for comment.
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