BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED . . .Student Activists and
Their Elaborate Demands
For about a year, the latest thing in collegiate fashions has been earnest pronouncements by student activist groups, making elaborate demands. (VIDE, "Proposal for Policy Change on Campus Climate)***
In some cases, they demand the resignation of some faculty member, or Vice-President, or President; in others, that a part of the campus be renamed, or that a mascot be sent to the pound.
The offending faculty member, campus name, or mascot is charged with committing (or having committed in the distant past) some "microaggression" against the sensitivity of a "marginalized" group, or some similar offense against Diversity. At the University of Washington, for example, the student protest group demanded that the name of Marcus Whitman, a 19th century white missionary to the Cayuse Indians, be removed from a roadway on campus; Mr. Whitman's offense was that he was a 19th century white missionary to the Cayuse Indians.
In the case of offending Presidents and executivess, the student groups demand their resignation for failing to act decisively enough on behalf of Diversity, Inclusiveness, Multiculturality, Sensitive Language, and similar desiderata. In certain cases, the demands are for a massive institutional bureaucracy to expand these desiderata. The longest of the latter sort was a series of resolutions issued by the student government of the University of Southern California, the subject of this review. A small sample of this interminable series of resolutions is copied below.
¶BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California hire a Vice-President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with experience and expertise in diversity and equity as well as inclusion who will be responsible for developing a strategic plan to improve the campus climate and have oversight of student, faculty and administration in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion,
¶BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will have oversight of multicultural and minority affairs, international affairs, student support services, cultural centers, retention and pipeline offices, community outreach initiatives, training and development operations, equity and compliance offices, and research units,
¶BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Academic Deans hire a Vice Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for each academic division or school at the university who would have involvement and influence in the hiring and promotion of faculty and staff, and the recruitment, yield and retention of both undergraduate and graduate students within their academic division or school,
¶BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty, staff and alumni representing the various multicultural groups affiliated with USC are involved in the selection process for the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as the Vice Deans of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,
¶ BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California Academic Division or School Vice Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion employ graduate and undergraduate students in the form of graduate assistants and student workers, respectively, to advocate for diversity support and coordinate for inclusion programming . . . "
But wait: once a Vice President for Diversity, and an army of Deans and Vice Deans of Diversity, have been anointed and given offices - - - what else could they do? Why, they must be given some jurisdiction over the curricula of every department - - - after all, curricula is what colleges do. Hence the next resolution in the series is no surprise:
¶"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Vice Deans of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion require and ensure that each syllabus within an academic division or school at the university include information on the resources available to students for reporting bias, discrimination and Title IX violations and that they work with departments to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion components in course curricula, (e.g. introduce multiple perspectives when discussing subjective material; multiple perspectives include, but are not limited to, various scholarly theories and authors of different backgrounds) . . . "
Once the Diversity Vice Presidents, Deans, Vice-Deans, Associate Deans, and Assistant Deans have their fingers in the curricula of every subject, as specified above, what can they do next? Why, then they and their Diversity Centers with their staffs of assistants and undergrad students and grad students, could develop and oversee training exercises and courses and workshops in Diversity and related subjects. But wait: just offering these exercises runs the risk that some students may choose not to take them, a problem that departments like Classics and foreign languages have been grappling with for years. This danger can be eliminated by the simple expedient of making these Diversity exercizes compulsory for everyone, to wit:
¶BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California implement mandatory, recurring online diversity and cultural competency trainings for faculty on campus with an additional mandatory in-person workshop led by cultural resource centers for questions and dialogue,
¶BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California implement mandatory, yearly, in-person diversity and cultural competency trainings led by cultural resource centers for student leaders on campus, including but not limited to all student government (Undergraduate Student Government, Graduate Student Government, Residential Student Government, etc.), Greek Councils, and all university-recognized student groups,
¶BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California implement mandatory first semester online training for distance learning students and in-person training for on campus students on diversity, equity, and inclusion during orientation related to issues of race, gender sexuality, etc.,
¶BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the University of Southern California re-implement the Diversity Requirement for all incoming students, and students must complete the Diversity Requirement within their first four semesters at USC. All classes must include a discussion of contemporary race, class and gender or a framework which can be applied to contemporary race, class and gender in order to fulfill this Diversity Requirement.
Once these resolutions are fully implemented, we can rest assured that the Astronomy department will be required to hold workshops on the institutional microaggression of terms like "black hole" and "dwarf star;" while students of Engineering will be instructed in the role of race, class, and gender in beam analysis, torsion loads, and moment-of-inertia.
Unaccountably, this series of resolutions stops short of its logical endpoint: namely, resolving that all other course requirements at USC be eliminated. If this were done, USC students would be able to concentrate entirely on Diversity, Cultural Competency, the implications of race class and gender, the endless search for microaggressions, the struggle for gender-neutral toilets, and such other matters as may be introduced by the Diversity Centers; and they would never have to subject themselves to the indignity of thinking about anything else.
Indeed, the suggestion that anyone ever think about anything else could be classified as a microaggression in itself: and therefore sufficient grounds for sentencing a student to a program of workshops, counseling, and psychiatric treatment, or for outright dismissal of a faculty member. We look forward to additional student resolutions along these lines.
My own group at the University of Washington, the Student Peoples' Liberation Front for Diversitality, Inclusisity, Multiculturality, and Sensitive Language (SPLFDIMSL) will continue to join other student groups in the struggle. We entirely concur with the UW students that the name of the infamous Marcus Whitman must be banished from our campus. We further demand that the University remove "Washington" from its name, in view of General Washington's infamous record as a general, a militarist, a slave-owner, and the evildoer of innumerable microaggressions. His name must be eliminated. Instead, we propose naming our University after Tjolzhitsay, a great chief of the Salish nation who was known in English as Chief Big Face. We will of course conduct mandatory workshops on Salish pronunciation, on the history of how race, class, and gender brought the University of Tjolzhitsay to its present, lamentable state, and, above all, on the paramount importance of our own work at SPLFDIMSL.- - - Dr. Phage
(Faculty Advisor to SPLFDIMSL)
§ § §***University of Southern California
Graduate and Undergraduate Student Senate
Proposal for Policy Change on Campus Climate?
Submitted by the Academic Senate Campus Climate Committee on October 21, 2015.