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Culture wars Richard Falknor on 26 Mar 2008 09:35 am

HB905 & SB438|Devaluing Maryland Higher Education

Just this Monday, the Maryland House of Delegates approved HB 905 “Institutions of Higher Education – Plans for Programs of Cultural Diversity” by a vote of 122-9. On the same day, the Senate approved the companion bill SB 438 41-6.

These intrusive measures will likely result in an additional loss of free speech in higher education, and more enforced programs of multiculturalism, i.e. anti-Western values, taught to students with no depth in the basics of social thought. (H/T to NRO’s George Creef for pointing to the just-linked DePaul University case.) Closer to home, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) last year named Johns Hopkins University as its first-ever “Censor of the Year for 2006.

Here are excerpts from the Fiscal and Policy Note accompanying these highly questionable measures:

“The plan developed by each public institution of higher education must enhance cultural diversity programming and sensitivity to cultural diversity through instruction and training at the institution and must include implementation strategies and timetables for meeting goals in the plans.”

“By May 1 of each year, each independent institution of higher education that receives State funding under the Sellinger formula must submit its report to the Maryland Independent College and University Association. [Underscoring mine. In FY 2009, an estimated $62 million in taxpayer money under the Sellinger formula will go to 17 Maryland 'non-public institutions of higher education' including the National Labor College.]

In a penetrating review of the administrations of four major university presidents, Victor Davis Hanson writes:

Amid the variety of scandals afflicting the campuses, the one constant is how the rhetoric of “diversity” trumps almost all other considerations—and how race and gender can be manipulated by either the college president or the faculty in ways that have nothing to do with educating America’s youth, but everything to do with personal aggrandizement in an increasingly archaic and unexamined enclave. [My underscoring.]

Too many Maryland lawmakers, who should, by now, know better, apparently believe that multiculturalism and “cultural diversity” are some kind of harmless excursions in social anthropology – – – appreciating the different mores of other nations, or respecting the folkways of Americans of different descent, almost National Geographic style.

“Cultural diversity” is far from that. These days, as one National Review on Line (NRO) commentator points out, here is – – -

What They Mean When They Say “Diversity” [John J. Miller]

The potentates at Virginia Tech felt it was necessary to say this:

We, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, use the term ‘diversity’ to mean the desirability and value of many kinds of individual differences while at the same time acknowledging and respecting that socially constructed differences based on such characteristics as gender, race, ethnicity, class, ability, health status, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, and geographical and cultural background exist within systems of power that create and sustain inequality, hierarchy, and privilege. The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences is determined to eliminate these forms of inequality, hierarchy, and privilege in our programs and practices. In this sense, diversity is to be actively advanced because it fosters excellence in learning, discovery, and engagement.[My underscoring.]

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