Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Admissions sheeple 

One of our admissions staff writes a letter to the local paper (link dead tomorrow) that suggests that Jack is right about the submissive nature of our fellow mandatory diversity trainees.
...no one I work with was angry about the training or unwilling to participate -- and I work with many people. I know that some were not happy about the decision to do the training during final exam week, and some were unsure of the potential for real impact in 75 minutes, but I encountered no adolescent rebellion among colleagues.

As a matter of fact, many looked forward to an opportunity to discuss issues openly and to meet new people. Considering the number of employees here, one should not be surprised to learn that faculty and staff members do not all know each other, and are certainly not of one mind.
It's kind of hard to see adolescent rebellion in a room where you're trained like circus seals. But it's also hard to see it when you're in the Admissions office, which pimps for diversity like few other places on a campus anywhere. Take for example this story of a young student going to Admit Week activities at Stanford.
It was 9 p.m., and most other admitted students were attending ethnic-themed parties. Asian Americans and Pacific-Islanders had "Chill Night" at Okada, the Asian dorm; African Americans, Chicano/Latino/Hispanics and Native Americans, respectively, were invited to do the same at other "theme" dorms. Lesbian/gay/straight/questioning/transgender students were invited to a separate social event at something called Caf� Q. Each group planned to discuss the issues facing minorities on the Stanford campus. I didn't fit into any of those groups, so I found myself at loose ends.

It's almost eerie, the way a racially diverse campus life is automatically equated with a happy, functional campus life. A diverse undergraduate population is undoubtedly one of Stanford's many attractions -- especially if you ask the admissions staff. But it seems to me that lauding diversity is futile if the various ethnic groups are encouraged to stick to their own. Potential friends I had made between icebreakers were now gone, having sushi at Chill Night. The point, I'd thought, was to coalesce and learn from each other.

So I sat letting my sunburned, fountain-dampened self drip-dry in a dorm lounge that was nearly empty save for a few of us socially awkward white kids . One sat at the lounge piano, banging out Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude" without pausing between repeats. He hadn't moved from the piano since before dinner, and mysteriously didn't respond when I cheerily tried to talk about composers. Another guy, sitting next to me on the couch, rose to go to the bathroom and asked in nasal monotone that I "make sure no one steals my hot chocolate." No one else said a word.
She went to a different school. (Hat tip: Discriminations. We should note that there's no singing of Kumbaya at SCSU, since it refers to a particular deity. Insufficiently inclusive, donchaknow.)