Education

Northwestern blackballs white male from diversity board

Robby Soave Reporter

Northwestern University’s attempts to increase diversity and tolerance on campus stumbled badly recently as the student government rejected a political appointee because he was a white male, and the university’s first-ever Social Justice Week manifested an anti-Israel bias.

Various members of the Associated Student Government opposed President Ani Ajith’s nomination of Stephen Piotrkowski to the position of president of diversity and inclusion. Piotrkowski, a white, straight male, was seen by many as unworthy and unqualified for the position, because he had benefitted from white privilege during his lifetime.

“This university is not ready, in any capacity, for a heterosexual white male to be in charge in any way of diversity and inclusion,” said Ian Coley, a member of the diversity and inclusion committee, in a statement according to The Daily Northwestern. “I don’t know if any university is.”

During Piotrkowski’s confirmation hearing, student government senator Jesse Seitz asked him, “When you’re forced to work with all these multicultural groups that are, for the most part, not made up of white males, do you think you have the perspective that is not their perspective, to bring to them?”

Piotrkowski answered that he would be able to work with minority groups, explaining that he himself was a member of a religious minority. His sister is also a lesbian, he said.

These responses did not reassure ASG senators, however, and his nomination was voted down, despite the endorsements of both Ajith and outgoing diversity and inclusion president Hayley Stevens.

The Daily Northwestern editorial board condemned ASG’s actions.

“It is ludicrous for members of ASG to expect that the vice president for diversity and inclusion can physically represent every single multicultural community at Northwestern,” wrote the editorial board.

By opting not to include a straight, white male on the committee for diversity and inclusion, members of the Northwestern community kicked off yet another week of heavy-handedness with minority issues.

Social Justice Week, which concluded on Sunday, was intended to create a greater atmosphere of tolerance and diversity on campus. But the week’s activities included so many anti-Israel events that some Jewish students felt marginalized and attacked.

A documentary that described Israel as an apartheid state on par with South Africa was particularly vexing.

“It is unfair to participants in Social Justice Week that they only hear one perspective on the issues in modern day Palestine,” wrote Jonathan Kamel, a freshman at Northwestern, in an op-ed. “The point of this week is to give a voice to all members of the student body and talk about relevant issues in an open and unbiased way.”

But according to Alex Jakuowski of The College Fix, Social Justice Week was only designed to include groups who seek “fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; challenge the roots of oppression and injustice; empower all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; and build social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.”

The two controversies were just the latest in Northwestern’s continual struggle to address diversity issues in a balanced manner. Recently, a Latino student group angered many on campus after its leaders implored students not to consume tacos or tequila on Cinco de Mayo.

The university has also hired several administrators tasked with overseeing campus diversity issues, and rewritten the curriculum requirements so that all students will have to take a cultural sensitivity class. These reactions have led some students to accuse the university of over-obsessing about diversity.

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