ERIC Number: EJ778829
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep-28
Reference Count: N/A
True Diversity Doesn't Come from Abroad
Tapia, Richard A.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n5 pB34 Sep 2007
For more than four decades, universities have used affirmative-action policies to increase the participation of U.S.-born women and members of minority groups in higher education, where traditionally they have been under-represented. Yet those policies, often applied in decisions about which students to admit and which faculty members to hire, have been controversial, particularly where minority groups are concerned. The policies have faced repeated legal challenges, and the courts have set and then changed the rules for their use. One result is that universities have changed their focus from improving domestic-minority representation to attaining broad cultural diversity on their campuses. Whereas affirmative-action policies aimed to solve the problems faced by segments of the U.S. population in gaining access to higher education, the new emphasis on diversity has led to a focus on the representation of many types of people, defined by religion, language, and other cultural attributes. As required by the courts, diversity has been broadly interpreted. As more groups were included under the diversity umbrella, the term took on an international flavor, and diversity programs and activities typically began to emphasize an understanding of the world's many ethnic groups. While the shift away from affirmative action's focus on American diversity and domestic-minority groups may not have been intentional, the new emphasis on world cultures obscures the domestic problems that gave rise to affirmative action. Representation is both a tougher goal to meet than diversity, and a different one. It involves getting to the root of problems still embedded in our domestic culture, and dealing with their consequences in higher education. International students and scholars contribute significantly to the high quality of American colleges and universities, and to the nation's economy. The writer believes that we should continue to welcome the best talent from around the world, but that foreigners should not be included in a discussion of under-representation of American groups. Diversity initiatives which began as a way to solve race-based problems in American society have become, with a shift in meaning, a sort of red herring. Tapia writes that we can deceive ourselves that we are taking the right steps to increase diversity when in fact we are ignoring what is still a troubling issue for America: educating minority youth.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Court Litigation, Cultural Pluralism, Affirmative Action, Minority Groups, Access to Education, Foreign Students, Equal Education, Educational Policy, College Admission, Disproportionate Representation, Educational Principles, Educational Trends, Educational Objectives
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A