Diversity must be fostered, not dictated by committees

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Since the Natrat Commission published its findings, there has been a rush to form committees, discussion groups, and forums on diversity. These attempts have a lot of overlap, and many share the same sustentative issues in their formation and targeted goals. However, these goals are sometimes unclear in their motivation, and potentially misguided. Diversity is a fantastic objective, but a top-down implementation will be counterproductive.
There exists a radical faction of individuals sitting on the respective diversity committees who believe they can force diversity into the campus. This faction integrates itself into these groups, by aligning itself with those seeking true growth. Its origins can be traced back to The Natrat, The Tartan?s 2004 April Fool?s issue. The issue contained articles and satires, one of which drew particular attention. A comic strip that used the term ?nigger? to refer to a black person, in a doubly derogatory context, became the rallying cry for a diversity march that spawned the Presidential Commission on issues raised by the Natrat.
This commission, armed with a mixture of purpose and anger, met frequently. The goal was to quell the anger over the Natrat issue, while fostering progressive thought and a more tolerant campus. Much of the Presidential Commission?s work on this matter was exemplary. However, buried in the commission?s origin were indications of endemic problems. One of the first symptoms of these problems was the misplaced aggression on the part of some members of the committee, who felt that actual judicial action should be taken against the old Tartan leadership. Often newfound ?concern? comes
from a kneejerk reaction to a highly publicized event. While no one would suggest that a climate for change exists without cause, one should be suspicious of impetuous policy born of angry
The action items the Presidential Commission finally recommended are worth undertaking, but one nevertheless sees hints of the uglier side of policy driven diversity.
In the wake of the Presidential Commission?s report, subsequent committees have formed. Student Senate recently formed an ad hoc committee on diversity. Greek Council now has a Diversity Coordinator who works on projects in the name of diversity. These projects are relatively new, and one should be optimistic about the hope for advancement that they bring.
To those thinking of changing the world one committee at a time, here is some advice: Alienating elements of the community from the discussion on diversity is the most dangerous mistake that could be made, whether it occurs by dealing out harsh punishments or by believing that any one committee will be able to address the problem alone. The committees dealing with diversity must be watched carefully, just as any legislator or judge pushing social change or reform must be kept in check. Freedom of speech and free will must be protected by incorporating thoughts from a broad spectrum of community members. The sacrifice of debate results in radical changes; the hot-button issues of those in power cast aside the thoughts of the many. Respect and tolerance are earned through
respectful debate.
Acting with such disregard is certain to nullify a message of diversity. If the views of others are completely thrown away while advancing one?s own agenda, failure is assured. The ends do not justify the means, especially if the process of civil debate is discarded. The various committees must continue to advance diversity in all forms.
I am reminded of a story told recently. In the not too distant past, there was an RA on this very campus who was fired for making remarks ? remarks that were nothing more than an extension of his personal and religious beliefs. His remarks made homosexual members of his floor uncomfortable. This RA was asked to apologize or he would face disciplinary action. Well within his moral bounds, he refused. He was subsequently dismissed from his post. While he may have been insensitive, this is exactly the type of force-fed political correctness that every member of a society should fight in addition to advancing diversity.
One would have to wonder, were there a Muslim RA making anti-Christian comments, would he be asked to apologize or be threatened with disciplinary action?
It is this double standard, this intolerance, that invalidates much of the diversity movement. To the
surprise of many, there are many forward thinking persons who are deeply religious or strongly conservative. There are tolerant people that are willing to work towards progress through a process which emphasizes respect for beliefs as much as a need for change.
Saint Thomas Aquinas once said, ?Free will is the cause of its own movement, because by his free will man moves himself to act.? Profound sentiments such as the above do
not lend themselves to infringement upon the freedom of speech of others, or to fascist coercion into capitulation with someone else?s moral stances. To that point, our community must guard these freedoms to foster diversity. Targeting those who are unwilling to abandon their beliefs and values to a movement rooted in radical political correctness has to cease. There is nothing more infuriating than four guilty white guys sitting
in a board room, dictating diversity policy onto a constituency they define as closed-minded and narrow. There is hope for tolerance and diversity, and it will only be realized by respecting free will and diversity
of thought.