Photo by Rob Amend, via Flickr

January 29, 2018 The Editorial Board 1Comment

A new proposal would take student education in a new direction come 2019.

The University of Cincinnati will hear a proposal entitled “Enhancement of General Education Student Learning Outcomes In Support of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.” It is aimed at restructuring the class requirements for first-year students beginning in the fall of 2019. This proposal would force faculty departments at the University to tailor their curriculum to meet this proposal’s requirements — which in many cases, divert away from the subject at hand. The proposal will be taken up for a vote by each degree program, which, if passed, will be taken up by the individual college for approval — and then on to the university overall.

The reasoning behind this proposal, fully stated here in a memo sent to faculty and posted on the University’s website, goes as follows:

“At the University of Cincinnati, student and faculty affinity groups have called for measures to enhance the student educational experience regarding racial equity and inclusion in preparing students for the 21st century. Input from the greater university communities has indicated a need for not only racial equity and inclusion but also for an expanded consideration of equity and inclusion in the curriculum. Though we define diversity broadly (including but not limited to differences in sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, personality, disability status, and others), our efforts are focused on those groups who have been historically marginalized in society and who continue to face significant obstacles as a result of deeply entrenched disparities. For this reason, we place special emphasis on efforts to increase equity and inclusion across racial groups.”

With the adoption of this plan, the University of Cincinnati would shift its focus away from equal opportunity in the classroom and toward an attempt at education equity. Modern society pedals equity’s notion of evening outcomes instead of leveling the playing field. It targets the effect while failing to address the cause. Universities have become notorious for this practice. But this move by UC is in a league of its own.

One of the proposed “enhancements” falls under their category of “Social Responsibility.” To fulfill this condition, students “will recognize the need for a world that honors human difference and take action to advance equity and inclusion.” As per the curriculum, students must “1. Discuss inequalities in the world using the language of equity and inclusion (e.g. diversity, intersectionality, bias, prejudice, racism, privilege, power, colorblindness). 2. Identify and analyze disparate social issues (e.g. systemic cultural discrimination and inequalities, socioeconomic, education, workforce, housing, healthcare).” This language is a classic example of starting with a predetermined answer, and finding the connection along the way. In other words, the opposite of honest inquiry. Requiring certain language in the classroom is an Orwellian act that undermines the very “intellectual inquiry” the University claims to profess.

“Policies like this, supposedly aimed at combating racism and assisting the marginalized, only further entrench the problems they seek to alleviate.”

Surely, a world which “honors human difference” is a desirable one. But nowhere in this proposal do they cite a successful implementation of the policy let alone list ideological or viewpoint diversity as a desirable characteristic. Not only that, but this policy places students into boxes of immutable characteristics. Grouping individuals by such characteristics does not do anything other than further the divide — a fact which both sides of the 2016 presidential election illustrated greatly. In passing this change, the University of Cincinnati is asserting as objective truth, beliefs that are very much up for debate in the realm of ideas.

To give one example, intersectionality is defined as “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” Essentially, the idea is that there are different tiers of oppression which accompany certain characteristics. The more boxes one checks, the more oppressed an individual is. A) This is not a concrete objective science, but one based in opinion and subjectivity. B) This is identitarianism of the highest degree. Certain characteristics will be prioritized over others, and as has already been seen on campuses, ideological diversity will be rendered obsolete.

The philosophy behind this change does not even begin to mention its implications on the faculty and what becomes of the curriculum. Instead of what is already offered (which can be quite bizarre already), absurd classes will supplant actual curricula. Faculty will be forced to adjust their classroom priorities in order to comply. Thus watering down even further the education students receive, devaluing the bang for their buck as tuition costs continue to rise.

Attempting to address perceived inequalities by leveling outcomes is the very strategy that has historically created an environment where authoritarian regimes can thrive as countries embark down the Road to Serfdom, the likes of which can be observed in icons of oppression, such as the Berlin Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Kremlin, and on the streets of Caracas. Policies such as the one the University of Cincinnati is considering, have widely been used to regulate speech and thought within their boundaries. And this one in particular will be used to indoctrinate students to believe whatever it is the University, and those behind this proposal, want them to believe. Universities are supposed to be bastions of free thought and debate. But with them straying further and further away from inquiry and incrementally closer to doctrine, they more so resemble re-education chambers than educational institutions. We’d all be better off if we followed Guy Benson’s advice and prioritize our values over our immutable identities. Upon adoption of this proposal, the University of Cincinnati would be doing the opposite.

Universities have become far too identitarian and one-sided when it comes to viewpoint, and the University of Cincinnati is no different. Policies like this, supposedly aimed at combating racism and assisting the marginalized, only further entrench the problems they seek to alleviate. Classifying people by immutable characteristics rather than the values and ideas they profess does nothing but regress on the progress many worked so hard to create. A part of the University of Cincinnati’s Mission Statement reads: “We provide an inclusive environment where innovation and freedom of intellectual inquiry flourish.” Freedom of intellectual inquiry cannot flourish when students are told how to think and to treat each other as if they are nothing more than the immutable characteristics assigned at birth. Such a proposal is an infringement on the academic freedom of the faculty and the students alike. A stand must be made.

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  • Triceratop

    in a capsule, “equal outcome” instead of “equal opportunity? As an alumnus, I am appalled at what my school has become and this movement toward Marxism has accelerated during Neville Pinto’s brief tenure.