The Class of 1984

Posted: Dec 01, 2003 12:00 AM

TO: All university students, faculty, and staff.
FR: The New Minister of Diversity.
RE:  Clarification of the meaning of “diversity.”

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am the university’s new Minister of Diversity. I was recently appointed by the Diversity Initiative Planning Committee to assist the Office of Campus Diversity and the Diversity Task Force as we develop a new Comprehensive University Diversity Plan.

Along with the numerous and diverse responsibilities of my new position, I have been instructed to circulate a memo in response to the confusion surrounding the university’s new definition of diversity. The university currently defines diversity in the following ways:

  1. The representation of populations shaped by historical circumstances and by cultural identities, or a combination of the two.
  2. The representation of populations shaped by varying socio-economic circumstances.

Since that definition was developed, many of the members of the various diversity offices and committees have received requests for clarification of that definition. Most of these requests have been made in the spirit of diversity. However, one conservative professor committed to divisiveness, not diversity, submitted the following request:

Could you please provide me with a list of populations not “shaped by historical circumstances and by cultural identities, or a combination of the two” and populations not “shaped by varying socio-economic circumstances.”

Such an inflammatory request clearly indicates that some members of our community cling to the notion that diversity is meant to benefit only certain members of our educational community. The view that diversity is only “for” certain minorities has no place in a truly diverse university. Diversity benefits everyone and we are committed to proving that to even the most divisive members of our educational community.

I am certain that all skeptics, including the professor who authored the aforementioned request, know exactly what we mean when we say “diversity.” Those who do not may find it beneficial to spend some time contemplating diversity by closing their eyes and repeating the word “diversity” in a quiet location several times daily. This technique has proven to be effective and is recommended by most experts in the field of diversity.

Regardless of our different opinions with regard to the precise definition of diversity, we should all agree that our new university definition, while perhaps not “perfect,” is an improvement over last year’s description of “diversity” offered by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity. Most of that description is summarized below:

Diversity means different things to different people…diversity is more closely akin to integration, and in its truest form, moves us toward perfection, for example, a more perfect union. Diversity will see separate parts united to form a more complete, harmonious, coordinate, identity…True diversity is characterized by moral, psychological, and social solidarity, close cooperation, and coherency of both form and function among members within the whole, e.g., the university, a community, and America…The educational diversity commitment must include the consideration of all peoples and cultures, especially those included within the American context.  If such an education is successful…citizens will have the material and psychological wherewithal to pursue the American Dream, and will be relatively free from the onslaughts of other citizens, as well as more able to withstand such onslaughts if and when they should occur.

Now that we have established a more clear and coherent definition of diversity, which everyone should understand, I intend to proceed with a more aggressive diversity agenda in the coming year. In the past, we have pursued diversity by simply relaxing the admission requirements for members of racial and ethnic minority groups. We now believe that such an approach is simplistic and insufficient.

Recently, the Diversity Task Force Committee, appointed by our previous chancellor, a man of European cultural heritage, noted that over 90% of the student body is composed of individuals with a European cultural heritage. These statistics are not only damaging to the diversity movement, but they are also potentially damaging to the former chancellor as he prepares to run for a seat in the State Senate.

This calls for immediate remedial action. Starting with next year’s class of freshman, we intend to offer new “Diversity Scholarships.” In distributing these scholarships, the university will consider under-representation of state cultural populations based on the most current census data. In order to retain a diversity scholarship, each student must maintain at least a 2.0 average. However, university diversity personnel may determine that a diversity scholarship may be retained despite the failure to maintain a 2.0 academic average when such failure is beyond the control of the student.

A list enumerating the populations eligible for these scholarships, the amount of these scholarships, and the number of these scholarships is not available at this time. Such disclosures will be made only when we are legally required to do so. This policy is necessary because the general public does not yet have a sufficient understanding and appreciation of diversity.

In addition to clarifying the meaning of diversity, I wanted to say something to those who have expressed concerns about the expense of the various programs that have been established in the name of diversity here at our public university. Many of those concerns have been accompanied by suggestions that our initiatives have not proven to be successful according to recent minority enrollment statistics.  While we have yet to see any measurable improvement in diversity after years of spending, we have a faith that cannot be shaken by empirical data.

We are certainly sensitive to the concerns of those who say that we should cut diversity spending and give it back to working families so that they can use it to better prepare their own children for college. Many expressing those concerns have mentioned “enormous budget deficits” and “increasing tax burdens.” We ask only that you be patient and trust that we know what is best for all children, including yours. That is one reason why the university has just hired new diversity consultant to go to local high schools to offer advice on how to raise minority standardized test scores. Certainly these consultants are better suited to prepare students for college than parents with varying areas of expertise. We simply ask that you work a little harder to help pay for their professional services to correct the problems that are not being addressed with the tax money already going directly to your public schools.

For those who do not know me well enough to offer their trust let me conclude by saying that I take my responsibilities very seriously. I cannot be blamed for the “failures” of previous diversity initiatives.  Whatever “failures” my have occurred have been corrected by either hiring new diversity personnel or by giving the old initiatives new names.

Finally, let me close with a remark about expenditures. I have recently been in touch with the new Minister of Plenty (or Miniplenty). He assures me that your concerns about “taxation” and “deficit spending” are exaggerated.  He says that you have nothing to fear. At least not in the immediate future.

NOTE: The new Minister of Diversity (Minidivy) does not appreciate remarks concerning the spelling and grammar in his diversity memos. What some consider “typos” or “fragments” are merely diverse methods of expression. Attempts to impose one’s grammatical reality upon others are potentially racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, heterosexist, ethnocentric, or some other equally offensive term not yet fashionable.

Mike S. Adams ( is an associate professor at a diverse university. He had the song “Sympathy for the Devil” stuck in his head for several days after writing this editorial.