Problem deeper

than the solutions proposed

During my career at NIU I’ve been confronted by advocates of multiculturalism in both friendly and not-so-friendly environments. It pains me to come to the grim conclusion that we’re headed down the wrong path.

I went with an open mind to an eight-hour seminar on diversity last week, sponsored by The Northern Star.

It was interesting but far from encouraging. I listened to the some of best and brightest minds on campus—administrators, respected faculty members and some of the most thoughtful student leaders at NIU. I thought the discussion was positive, but solutions were lame.

I have no doubt, nor did I before, that these individuals have the best of intentions. It was clear that most agreed that racial harmony on campus is a top priority.

However, I highly question the effectiveness of proposed solutions to our campus dilemma, at least the major ones.

The two major solutions proposed were hiring more minority faculty members and administrators and adding a multiculturalism course to graduation requirements.

I am not opposed to either move. I think they’re both admirable, but they are not solutions.

One thing I learned very early as a Christian comes from Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, among others – laws (i.e. general education requirements) can never change the heart.

Racism was, is and always will be a condition of the heart. Forcing students, who otherwise would not do so, to take courses on other cultures is a nice thought, but it’s like treating cancer with Tylenol.

I’ve seen the attitudes of many white students at NIU. They really resent the idea of being forced to take this type of class. I’m also ashamed of some of their attitudes, but you can lead a horse to water as the saying goes.

The next big solution is hiring more minority administrators and faculty members with the idea of providing more role models, for example African-American role models. The other idea is simply trying to create a more representative workplace to which I’m again unopposed.

I thought the idea of looking for role models by the color of their skin was superficial at best. I have white, African-American and Latino role models. My favorite role model happens to have been a Jewish carpenter.

Are we trying to tell students that they must look to role models of their own color? If so, I want off this boat. This is a university not a junior high. I think it’s safe to assume that students can understand that role models don’t necessarily have to be of their own heritage; if they don’t they’ve already been duped.

This is multiculturalism’s (as carried out by NIU) greatest failure. It breeds division. I’m sure that’s touched a nerve, but look around man! We don’t have much meaningful diversity here other than numbers the administration gleefully wave at legislators’ faces. Multiculturalism, as it now runs full-throttle at NIU, is just simply not working!

Do you honestly think that any of this is going to even scratch the surface of a sin that’s been around since the dawn of mankind with a 100-level course and some bean counting?

I don’t even have space in this column to go into the other lies perpetuated by “multiculturalism” and “diversity” on campus.

Briefly, what about the numbers game? Yeah, minority enrollment is continually improving, but graduation rates are deplorable. More minority students than not are the victims of NIU’s supposed commitment to diversity, not the beneficiaries. The numbers thing is a sham.

We don’t need any more policy makers here. We need personal commitment from individuals willing to explore culture on their own and face their responsibilities head on.