Monday, December 22, 2003

Monomania and higher education 

Two years ago I made a bet with a friend who still was trying to support our president: I promised to buy him the best steak in town when he had evidence of our president showing any consciousness that the university does anything -- anything at all -- besides promote �diversity,� meaning of course diversity of race and culture, not thought or understanding or analysis or judgement or -- most of all -- political, social or religious opinion. So far I haven�t had to pay up, and after the latest end-of-the-semester message from our sad president, the steak will remain safe.

His end-of-the-year message, dated Friday, Dec. 19, is about nothing � nothing � but Affirmative Action. He first thanks everyone who has �contributed so much to St. Cloud State University�s success over the last 12 months.� And then he details that success:

A new Director of Affirmative Action and Social Justice position was approved (though the �process has been slow�); seventy-eight faculty searches will probably go forth, though because the Affirmative Action Office is �currently understaffed� things are a bit slow; an Affirmative Action Office student left for Los Angeles (though there is no mention of what he/she will do in Los Angeles once he/she gets there); the SCSU Diversity Newsletter will probably begin next semester; the Campus Diversity Training Opportunity attracted �hundreds of participants� (who will receive a �certificate of accomplishment� for their tenure and promotion file and who got a pretty clear message of what would happen to their tenures and promotions if there were no appreciate certificates there), and the number of discrimination complaints declined.

That�s it.

I�m not kidding.

There is no indication that students were actually taught anything but diversity, that faculty did research, that they published articles and read papers, that if fact anything happened except involving diversity.

Is there a better way to define monomania?

At some point, somebody else has to get fed up. Maybe students who are actually paying money to come to this place, or parents who are helping those students and actually hope for them to get an education, or legislators and a governor who keep spending State money here. Somebody else has to get fed up.