A Broadside to Brodhead

Richard Brodhead is the president of Duke University, which means he’s a member of a higher order of invertebrates. He especially disgraced himself in the handling of the Duke lacrosse case, which turned out to be wholly phony, but not before Brodhead summarily fired the lacrosse coach and condemned the three students involved. Although he later apologized and reinstated the students, he never lifted a finger against the Gang of 88, the Duke professors who deemed the students prospectively “guilty” simply because they were products of the white male patriarchy—regardless of what due process of law might find.

So it is entirely fitting for Brodhead to receive an open letter today from a group of Duke students, the Duke Open Campus Coalition, pushing back forcefully against political correctness and identity politics at the campus. Like the Princeton Open Campus Coalition and the sound folks at the Claremont Independent, the statement is well-written and cogently argued, conspicuously unlike the half-literate demands of some of the identity politics mobs. The whole thing is worth reading, but here are a few highlights:

We also oppose demands to enforce “mandatory learning on institutional racism and anti-oppression practices for both students and faculty,” and the administration’s recent announcements suggesting that Implicit Bias Training and a required diversity course may soon be institutionalized. We are concerned that this curriculum requirement, even if adjoined to a new Writing 101 course, will amount to mandatory reeducation classes. It asks faculty members to not only impose orthodox thinking, but also orthodox feelings, from a position of power. After all, these professors would be grading students’ responses on issues where reasonable and conscientious members of the Duke community, including faculty members, often disagree. On a campus where many already fear voicing a dissenting opinion, institutionalizing re-education or sensitivity classes will fail to provide space for dissenting voices, institutionalize an echo chamber and foster groupthink.

Finally, we oppose demands to match the faculty’s demographic makeup with the student population’s demographic makeup. Instituting a quota system on staff members based on a student population that changes every year is not only unfeasible, but is wrong. We cannot expect that the quality of the faculty would remain identical if quotas for different groups are imposed. Moreover, mandating minimum or maximum thresholds on employment or student enrollment on the basis of skin color or gender reduces people to immutable characteristics of their identity. While we embrace diversity, especially diversity of opinion, we strongly denounce the idea that our interactions with one another should be defined by demographic traits like race and gender.

Employers: Put the students who signed this on your hiring list.

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