Back in the day, college freshmen went to pep rallies. They wore college beanies. They learned college songs and chants and cheers. They were welcomed into a cohesive community. And they learned the customs and mores that made them members of the community.
Perhaps they still do. But, they are also forced to undergo diversity training. If the pep rallies bring students together, the diversity training divides them against each other.
Incoming Princeton Freshman Carrie Pritt recently reported on the diversity training class that she attended. In it, every student was forced to stand up and to identify as a member of one or another racial, ethnic, social or gender group.
Pritt explained her experience:
“Stand up if you identify as Caucasian.”
The minister’s voice was solemn. I paused so that I wouldn’t be the first one standing, and then slowly rose to my feet. “Look at your community,” he said. I glanced around the auditorium obediently. The other students looked as uncomfortable as I felt, and as white. ¨Thank you,” the minister said finally. After we sat down, he went on to repeat the exercise for over an hour with different adjectives in place of “Caucasian”: black, wealthy, first-generation, socially conservative. Each time he introduced a new label, he paused so that a new group of students could stand and take note of one another. By the time he was finished, every member of Princeton University’s freshman class had been branded with a demographic.
Whatever his intention, the minister was atomizing the Freshman class. Pritt concluded:
The message was clear: know your kind and stick to it. Don’t risk offending people from other backgrounds by trying to understand their worldviews.
More importantly, the exercise shows that diversity training divides a class and a campus into discordant groups, identified by something other than their membership in the Princeton community. If diversity training divides the class against itself it breaks down group cohesion. Then it is counterproductive, contrary to the best interest of the group itself. The problem does not involve stripping students of their individuality. It involves atomizing a community and undermining their sense of belonging.
I trust that Princeton still has fight songs and cheers and college beanies. And yet, why does the administration insist on undermining group cohesion by forcing every student to become hyperconscious of his or her identity as a member of a racial or ethnic or social group?
One suspects that in a social organization that does not cohere by following common customs and mores, the only way that people can feel like they belong is by thinking what other people think and feeling what other people feel. By any other name, it’s mind control.