Dr. Chang's Discussion in RESEV 615 on May 27

When I look through these questions I am able to group some of them

Framing the Conversation
What is racial diversity?
What do we mean by diversity?
Why does racial diversity matter?
Why does it work? Why is it educationally relevant?
What is wrong with diversity?
Where do we go from here?

Limit to racial diversity — most of my work has focused on this — this is not to say that other forms are not important — I am not going to have time to address anything else — this is what I know best. We need to take into account institutional circumstances. Open access is an example like community colleges — where they pretty much do not select students — their student body is very sensitive to the local level demographic shift — their racial diversity is a result of the unintended demographic shifts — then you have other institutions where racial demographic is a choice — because it is subscribed — lets use the Ivys (Yale, Harvard, Princeton) racial diversity is a choice to them. If they do not do it – they will not get the racially diverse perspective with national representation. Institutional racism, societal classicism, that overlap in ways that make institutional access difficult – and much less competitive. Admissions to the highly selective institutions. We really have to take institutional circumstances into account. Judgmentally, it is unintended demographic shift or a choice that has to be legally justified.

Why does racial diversity matter?
When you think about racial diversity — I will really point to it — within this narrow way – we have to think about campus circumstances. the diversity you see on campus is due to demographic shifts or they have engineered it to achieve it through intentional choices the institutions make… these choices have to be legally justified.

Racially diversity matters — taking racial diversity into account — if it is demographic it is a reality – not a choice – you have to take it into account. When the student body shifts, like in a community college or non-selective institution — in California we have certain institutions that take every student that applies. there is a huge shift in their diversity – they have to take the new demographic shift into account mainly because of interest in retention — 1) intellectual shift 2) cultural shift — even if racial diversity is not a choice — i think it is important —

intellectual shift really has a great deal with the great interest in new student population — populations that have historically been excluded from these institution — these new populations are very interested in being exposed to different truths and the way they see it — different truths that have not been a part of formal education. This new population the campuses are seeing — these are populations that have not been historically served by these institutions and have been historically excluded — African Americans were excluded in the south – they were legally banned from these institutions — now, you are seeing these students who are attending historically white institutions — they are interested in being exposed to these truths — i.e., African American in gaining education about African American — study programs. these students will call for a variety in the curriculum that will satisfy their intellectual curiosity because of their positionality. (i.e., third world study movement in the 1960s, hunger strikes to demand for intellectual expansion). This is one part of it. It comes with racial diversity and greater shift within the direction.

Cultural shift: importance of rooting out — or addressing institutional racism — this has to do with a whole “host” or stuff — greater over site to prevent discrimination. When institutions do this, it is to help them assimilate to the institution — rather than diversify the culture. At the superficial level — debates about mascots — the images and symbols. Institutional assumptions with intelligence — who are the purveyors of intellectual wealth — the protectors of the standards of intelligence and knowledge.

There has to be the simultaneous effort along with the racial diversity of the student body to address the institutional and cultural aspects. If institutions do not address these — student retention is impacted — they get tired of the wear and tear of having to confront these racism on campus. There is a lot of higher education literature that exacts a tax on them academically. Easiest example: Latino student in the sciences, being one of a handful in a class of 200, have the TA ask if they are in the right class…. a good number of students experience this — I am sure you guys can come up with examples. Institutions capacity to better serve the student body.

5-10% within a privileged place to choose their student body:
They need to address the institutional and cultural — they need to have a diverse student body — it becomes a choice as well… it is not like these institutions will not have any African American, Latino students… they would have a much smaller population – proposition 209 — Race conscious admissions — we saw a precipitous drop in admissions — they dropped and did not disappear. They need to make a case to justify the diverse student body via their admissions policy — then, this gets to the question of why is it important?

Why is the racial diversity argument/justification important?
It is most important – because it matters a great deal. There are plenty of studies that have real significant value added effect from these institutions not only academics but social networks. Screening of the highly motivated ambitious people — it has to do with better chances — all things equal or slightly unequal — with lower grades, etc. Less selective institutions you have less chance of going to law school or graduate schools — it is important. The idea is that if the most oppressed groups do not get access to these institutions you stand a higher chance of racial stratification. Even though these are a small % of institutions – they grab out attention in very significant ways — of how they function in this society.

Next Steps?
Call for a different rationale for Affirmative Action?

All of the institutions want to have the option to em brawl a racially diverse student body. they are very pro-race conscious – they are very supportive of this because they want to have the choice. The legal argument — looking at Bakke — it is highly constrained — the best argument is to address the best way to address racism. It is to understand that it is not a level playing field. At the point of college admissions, people have access to college opportunity. This is based on a remedial argument — this has a lot to do — unfortunately this has been off the table since Bakke — is diversity rationale — the educational benefits rationale. This is the argument for the lawyers at MI — this almost went to the supreme court — there was one in TX, GA — they decided strategically to use the diversity rationale argument to expand race conscious arguments. There are some people wh
o “try” to inject the remedial argument — the court rejected into it — the student interveners — that they continue to face discrimination on campus — this discrimination has a lot to do with racism – that’s why we need to have affirmative action… the courts rejected it. In part, the University does not want to admit it. In short, it was almost the only case that institutions can make race conscious practices — in 2003 the supreme court would have rejected any practice — not only the mechanical one. Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the deciding opinion — she was not going to buy the “remedial argument” — at best middle of the road. We have to think of this as a diversity rationale as a strategy that is best left in making a case for the courts. This skips to the article to take a much stronger position about the diversity rationale — the diversity discourse should not be limited — the main thing wrong with the diversity discourse is why it is so useful… the diversity rationale — it is relatively neutral — it has a great way of converging interests — are the interests in political economy and the liberal civil rights agenda. I think that the diversity rationale is appealing for the majority center because it does not critique the political economy that supports a demographic capitalism that shows the enormous gap between wealth and power — and the proportion of the concentration of wealth continues to get smaller. So, it continues to support the political economy and show that “we” are opposed to racial discrimination. It does not say anything about the discrepancies are unjust. It does not distribute power and wealth by race. By having discrepancies in stratification is a good thing — that is what the diversity rationale says…

What has it been effective — what are the problems with that?
It can be used to support a full spectrum of ideologies — Horowitz to call out all the radical liberals — intellectual diversity for conservative agenda — to show radical thinking in colleges/universities. Diversity has become a term for powerful political views — or liberal anti-racism — we are all champions of diversity — because we are all multiculturalists — it almost becomes a term of no meaning — BUT it has GREAT meaning.

We have to separate out the terms — when we talk about diversity – it is not important to mix all the forms together — they certainly overlap — they operate in different spheres, and the histories are very different… we have to pay a great deal of attention what they might be concealing or what are the agendas might be promoted — some people would use diversity with an anti-racist agenda — others would promote a conservative agenda — most use to it to promote the status quo — maintaining the political economy with a little bit of tinkering on race.

Earlier you mentioned a political mass of students of color — is that the only goal? How is having a critical mass creating an opportunity and not the outcome of education?
It is so confusing… the courts do not even know what their goals are anymore. The whole policy has gone through.. has been revised by each Presidential Cabinet or every new office… one… affirmative action will not say it is to get a critical mass… right now… as I see it within the higher education context – it is t use the choice of race conscious practices — critical mass is important — ate the student level to feel as if they are not the kind-of soul representative of the race — less likely to be treated in stereotypical fashion… It reduces their vulnerability to racism… at the educational benefits level critical mass increases the chances of one student to have meaningful interactions with other students — my empirical studies have shown with students who have more opportunities to get to know people of other races — it has educational benefits — greater stratification in college — great appreciation of differences — cognitive and social growth — critical mass matters in different ways — educationally… at the level of policy with respect to affirmative action I do not think it plays that big of role.

Where do we go from here?
Focus on structures of oppression – the diversity discourse may or may not help us — using the framing gets you the attention of people who normally will object you straight out — you can use it to promote a more palatable agenda — in this agenda when it comes to research – we have to focus on the structures of oppression — often subtle and nuance how the structures maintain the status quo within the political economy — it is a political economy where the gap continues to grow — and it either will continue to grow across race — and then identify structures of oppression who’s interest and sensibilities are being promoted – reduce it to organizations and their practices in place — in the end if we have to reduce racism — at the institutional level it will help the individuals develop. We have the address the structures… We have to look at the constraints within the research agenda — Scholarship of confrontation — Tim Wise, Nana Osei Kofi… empirical work that is accessible that helps us anticipate. Education compared to other fields of study was really able to anticipate the debates that would come up — and help develop an empirical foundation to support the debates — you see now sociology — johnny come lately — where were they when these debates were being tested in the courts — it helps use anticipate the issues when they come up so we are prepared for them.

Lastly, I will leave you with this… we have to continue to check ourselves — we are all working within some paradigm — Thomas Kuhns work — that is how academics work — we work within the paradigms of the audience — we have to understand our limitations and be prepared of the shift — that the paradigms are totally inadequate — the diversity rationale is a paradigm we are working with and is currently inadequate — what is the alternative paradigm to understand what is going on? will help us to anticipate it and predict what will go on… I am not sure — I have been searching for an alternative paradigm — I am not going to be the one come up with it. Now as a full professor — now, those working within the paradigm do not have the vision for an alternative… according to Thomas Kuhn… they do not have a different capacity of seeing things…. my time has already passed… once you are a fully certified member — you have almost become a problem… I think people within those positions they are more likely to cling on — more than anyone else?

Do you think you will be open for the scholarship of confrontation?
yes — but we have to do it in a fair way — one that does not demonize — we do not have to be civil — I have not been treated civil — I know I was doing something right when I was getting the hate mail and phone calls — it really helps improve the understanding and progress of where we want to head.