Sometimes schools do silly things in the name of diversity that, more frequently, only deepen racial division.
When Jason Mattera, a student at Roger Williams University, offered a controversial “whites only” scholarship to students at the school, the project sparked a national controversy, he remembered in an appearance before Accuracy in Academia (AIA)’s Conservative University conference in July. In fact, Mattera’s project turned into a scholarship heard ‘round the world when even the British Broadcasting Corporation took an interest in it.
Mattera, who heads the College Republicans at Roger Williams, said at AIA’s summer conference at Georgetown University that the “scholarship” was designed to parody U. S. government affirmative action programs. Nonetheless, his attempt at satire pales, no pun intended, when compared to the dead serious attempts by colleges and universities to achieve racial diversity.
For example, schools have come up with a game for resident assistants that they have designed in order to elevate racial sensitivity. The game is known as “the privilege walk.”
“The privilege walk usually takes place on a basketball court,” Ohio State University librarian Travis McDade explains.
“Students line up at midcourt and, depending on their responses to statements read by a facilitator, move toward or away from the baseline in front of them,” McDade writes in the August 6th Chronicle of Higher Education. “The game ends when the first person reaches the baseline.”
McDade himself has been a facilitator at a number of these walks. They are usually “won” by athletic white males egged on by their peers, according to McDade.
Here’s how you play:
“If you were raised in an area where there was prostitution or drug activity, take one step back.”
“If you had to rely on public transportation growing up, take a step back.”
“If you were ever denied employment because of your gender, take one step back.”
“If your parents are professionals, take one step forward.”
A great leap forward is not exactly what one school is taking in its unique approach to class distribution. “Students at the University of Colorado at Boulder can take the popular ‘School and Society’ course on Fridays—but only if they’re not white,” Valerie Richardson reports in The Washington Times. The school reserved that class period for “students of color” in order to provide “a much safer and open environment” in which to discuss race, gender and class issues. In the old days, we called this segregation.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.