Apparently, certain groups of Harvard students do not feel that they belong. One suspects that their fellow students treat them accordingly, and that this creates considerable anguish.
Someone with a warped mind might suggest that when you institute aggressive diversity programs any student who might have profited from these programs will be seen as having profited from them. Concomitantly, he or she will be seen as somehow different from those students who were admitted fairly.
Shelby Steele made this point many moons ago. It is still true. As more colleges use diversity as a criterion for admission it becomes truer.
Moreover, a student who has SAT scores (on a 1600 point scale) three to four hundred points lower than other students will probably not be able to compete in most academic disciplines. Even in an era of grade inflation, students who might have been admitted for diversity reasons will be treated differently in classroom discussion and in study groups.
Worse yet, students who fulfill a diversity quota will incite resentment. If your friend or family member with a far better record was rejected in order to open more places to affirmative action candidates you are not going to feel very good. After all, diversity programs rig the system and people do not look kindly on rigged systems and on unearned privilege.
There are various obvious ways of addressing this problem.
First, one can abolish affirmative action programs. If colleges admit all students according roughly to the same criteria, the stigma that Steele noted will disappear.
Second, one can recommend that those who were admitted for reasons of diversity work harder to compete more effectively against those who were admitted under different criteria. Protesting injustice because you do not feel like you belong does nothing for your GPA. Only hard work in the library and the lab will do that. If you are profiting from what is essentially a rigged system, you should do everything in your power to show that you belong.
Third, as seems to be the policy at Harvard, you can try to control the minds of students who were admitted under the standard criteria, the better to make them believe that every student who is at Harvard is equal. If the affirmative action candidates feel like they do not belong, everyone must treat them as though they belong. At every level of behavior. Thus, the mania against microaggressions, including looking askance at a minority group member and using the wrong language. To do this you will be forcing students to live a lie. Since they all know it's a lie, you will need to exert pressure to coerce them to overcome their sense of reality and their sense of fairness.
Fourth, you can double down on diversity. You can admit more students who contribute to campus diversity and hire more faculty members who do the same. These new students and professors will probably be inferior, and this will cause people to think less of members of minority groups. This will obviously aggravate the problem, but campus bureaucrats, believing firmly in mind control, will happily show you how to ignore reality.
Fifth, you can attack the standards that were used to admit white and Asian students. You can say that these criteria smack of white privilege. You might need to explain why there are so many Asian students at these schools, apparently profiting from their “white” privilege, but you probably do not want to go there.
Sixth, you can suggest that students who do more poorly on aptitude tests contribute something else to campus. This involves changing admissions criteria, giving special credit for customs and mores from different cultures. And having special programs to celebrate their cuisine and holidays.
As with other Ivy League universities, two years of race-fueled protests and threats have cowed [Harvard] university administrators. The Black Lives Matter banner and Rainbow flag fly over the First Parish Church in Harvard Square. In a December 2014 open letter to Harvard students, College dean Rakesh Khurana proclaimed, “I have watched and listened in awe of our students, faculty, and staff who have come together to declare with passion, grace, and growing resolve that ‘Black Lives Matter’ and to call for justice, for ally-ship, and for hope.”
(Note what happened. Khurana gave Harvard’s backing to a controversial and aggressive racial group that many who fully support racial justice want to hold at arm’s length.)
Apparently, if some students cannot compete, it’s a sign of systemic injustice. It means that professors have failed to recognize the cultural value of wrong answers and bad writing.
To justify an admissions process that is manifestly unfair, everyone on campus must act as though all cultures are equal and as though all cultures have contributed equally to… whatever.
Late Harvard professor Samuel Huntington must be spinning in his grave. If he was right that civilizations compete against each other, for prestige and dominance, some have done better than others. If students are being taught how best to compete in the world market, it would seem rational to want them to do their best. And it would be better to inculcate the values of cultures that have shown themselves to be most successful.
If you do otherwise, you will be depriving them of tools they need to compete. Just because some students cannot compete effectively in a rigged system does not mean that the world is going to abolish competition. As the theory of mismatch says, a student who cannot compete at Harvard might excel at another institution.
If the academy does not believe in the value of competition, it is practicing diversity in the name of an aesthetic, in the name of the aesthetic pleasure they gain by seeing students of different cultures and of different colors on campus. This means that they do not care about what is best for students who serve the greater good of adding color to campus.