The Stigma of Inclusion: Racial Paternalism and Separatism in Higher Education

The Stigma of Inclusion: Racial Paternalism and Separatism in Higher Education *

December 9, 2002

Michael Meyers, a member of FIRE's Board of Advisors and the executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition ( www.nycivilrights.org ), has issued a vitally important report, "The Stigma of Inclusion: Racial Paternalism/Separatism in Higher Education." It is a deeply insightful and morally signficant look into how college and university administrators, in their efforts to create a more inclusive and diverse student body, actually promote a "balkanized campus environment" of de facto segregation.

A description of the report is included below, and the report may be found at: http://www.nycivilrights.org/reports/pdfs/nycrc_campusreport.pdf . Please note that Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to read the report. Contact information for Michael Meyers is included at the end.

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The New York Civil Rights Coalition:

Study Finds College Officials Encourage Separatism On Campus

As idealistic freshmen arrived at their campuses this month they were oftentimes greeted with a paternalistic message from college officials about their race/ethnicity -- you are different and needy, if you are a racial minority student. That's the principal finding of a study completed, and just released, by the New York Civil Rights Coalition, a New York-based non-partisan civil rights organization committed to integrating America's mainstream institutions.

The group's study -- The Stigma of Inclusion: Racial Paternalism/Separatism in Higher Education -- profiles some fifty public and private colleges nation-wide. Its researchers studied the bulletins, course catalogs, publications, and websites of the institutions of higher education to ascertain the ways the colleges and universities spoke of (and treated) minority students, and how they described their own programs and services geared for students of color. According to the report's Executive Summary, these institutions of higher education generally practiced ethnic cheerleading and fostered racial separatism in the guise of embracing "cultural diversity:"

"Amidst all the hue and cry over affirmative action programs, little attention has been given to the color-conscious policies of ... colleges ... that permit or encourage, and, oftentimes, fund a balkanized campus environment. While proclaiming their dedication to a phenomenon of so-called 'ethnic identity,' 'choice,' and 'diversity' the officials of many colleges regard the self-segregation of minority students on their campuses as supportive of their efforts to foster the comfort of a culturally, economically, geographically, and racially diverse group of students. Stripped of its paternalism their policies and funding actually support a new form of ethnic and racial segregation in higher education. They proudly and increasingly pursue a segregationist agenda."

The colleges profiled in the survey include Amherst College, Brown University, Cornell University, George Washington University, Haverford College, MIT, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, Pennsylvania State University, Princeton, Smith, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Vassar, Wesleyan University, and Yale. The research was done by Harvard undergraduate Ramin Afshar-Mohajer and Evelyn Sung, now a student at NYU Law School. The survey found:

* Colleges create special administrative positions and "minority" offices that strengthen separatist campus organizations;

* Colleges organize separate events and programs for minority students, including, in some instances, separate orientations and "Minority Weekends";

* College-endorsed minority student organizations on campuses encourage minority students' separatism, in an effort to promote "group-identity";

* Colleges target and treat minority students as in need of remedial services, just because they're students of color on a predominantly white campus;

* Colleges provide courses and departments with a politically-correct multicultural/diversity bent;

* Colleges provide racially-identifiable, ethnic housing on campus -- sometimes with links to academic programs -- that allow for the steering of minority frosh to racial/ethnic "identity" dorms.

In the report, the group's Executive Director, Michael Meyers, criticizes what he calls "the official campus apartheid policies of college authorities," and accuses the college presidents and trustees of "political cowardice" and "segregationist, racial arrogance" in their retreat from integration. The 28-page report details the specifics of what is happening on campuses, by institution.

Mr. Meyers commented today that his group's report "can be a useful handbook to all college leaders -- students, faculty, administrators and trustees who want to do something about the prevalence and cult of racial separatism on their campuses." In the study's conclusion, Mr. Meyers writes:

"... Through color-coding, [colleges and universities] have done a disservice to both minority and non-minority students. Separatist housing, stilted courses, and ethnic cheerleading programs disseminate poisonous stereotypes and falsehoods about race and ethnicity. They rob students of theirindividuality and limit interactions between minority and non-minority students, and promote and reward separatist thinking...Although they claim to have minorities' interests at heart, these colleges in fact take the civil rights movement giant steps backward."

Meyers' "comment" added,

"... Separatism in all of its forms, but especially when it is aided and abetted by college and university officials and resources, is a betrayal of" the purposes of higher education, which are to "remove narrow constrictions of the mind, extirpate prejudice, and remove barriers to the open pursuit of knowledge."

To read the study, go to the New York Civil Rights Coalition's website at www.nycivilrights.org , click on "Reports," and scroll down to the Racial Paternalism and Separatism on Campus Report (2002).

Monday

December 9th, 2002

Foundation for Individual

Rights in Education (FIRE)

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