1 July 2003
Opinions in multiplicity
Susanna Cornett, on the sort of diversity we actually need:
I think that I, as a Southern conservative religious woman, bring something different to the table even in researching criminal justice than a Northern liberal atheist male. While naturally I'm going to think my course is best, in the aggregate it's important to have both perspectives because in reality we're neither one likely to hit "the truth", whatever that is, squarely on the head. We are led to new insights others may not have in part because of who we are and what our history is, and that to me is why it's crucial to have liberals and conservatives, all races, male and female, any permutation of potential intellectuals, in our nation's universities. It's not to give minorities a role model although that's not a bad side benefit but to introduce a different way of seeing the questions a certain discipline seeks to address. I personally think the ability to best use that perspective is clouded when the person is caught up in some ideological fervor that seeks to impose personal belief or ethnic or political overlays onto their work. My view of the world is informed by my religious beliefs, but my willingness to listen and consider other perspectives shouldn't be limited by them.
I really don't think that anyone's motivation for diversity is to provide role models for minorities; if anything, it's to provide minority role models for majority (read "white") students. John Rosenberg has written extensively on this phenomenon.
But beyond this quibble, she's absolutely right: the university needs as many viewpoints, left, right and center, as it can possibly get, and weeding out some of them because they might be politically unpopular, or "uncomfortable" for a segment of the student body, or for whatever reasons are invented next week, is counterproductive at best.