A. Barton Hinkle on the Diversity Dilemma on Campus


Credit: ajagendorf25 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

If you're a college student who has been steeped in the values of the modern academy, then you know two things with every fiber of your being: (1) diversity is good and (2) racism is bad. Most of the time, it's pretty easy to reconcile these two positions. A club that admits only white men as members, for instance, offends both of those principles.

From time to time, though, the values of diversity and non-racism collide—as they did recently at Stanford. Molly Horwitz, a Jewish student, was running for student government. She had an interview with the Students of Color Coalition, hoping to win its endorsement. During the course of the interview, she says, she was asked: "Given your Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment" from Israel?

But here's the odd thing, writes A. Barton Hinkle. While the question put to Horwitz sounded vaguely racist or anti-Semitic, it did not constitute a failure to live up to the values of diversity. The question was perfectly consistent with those values. And that's the problem.