Tom Gilson

Character Development Is Alive and Well On the College Campus. Sort Of.

A few days Mike Adams posted an article at titled Diversity and Catatonic Schizophrenia. It begins,

Dianne Harrison is the new president of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). It’s a small college in the Golden State but it sure is loaded with diversity. How do I know? Because Dianne has written a letter to the entire university, telling everyone how diverse they are and, more importantly, what a great person she is because she loves diversity. In her short email of around 800 words she refers to diversity no less than 17 times (and I have highlighted them in bold letters). Because it is so dripping with Orwellian double-speak, I thought it would be fun to reproduce it here.

I sent Mike an email with this question:

Do you happen to know whether Dianne Harrison at CSUN has sent out any university-wide emails encouraging students to study hard and learn well?

I mean, it goes without saying (though she went ahead and said it anyway): “Clearly, diversity at Cal State Northridge is celebrated, nurtured, and held as a central and core value.”

But what about getting an education?

Just wondering…


He answered and told me he was unaware of any such communication, but he could affirm that at least one professor “got it”—the one who forwarded him Dianne Harrison’s email.

I’m all for encouraging racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. I’m not big on ethical and moral diversity, in case you wondered. There is absolutely no better or worse race, ethnicity, etc., but there are better and better worse moral and ethical stances.

For all the good that can come of appreciating the right kind of diversity, though, another California school demonstrates how it can get taken all out of proportion.

There was a time when colleges and universities considered it one of their chief purposes to build character in their students. That time has not come to an end. Schools are still inculcating character. But they’ve changed the definition. It used to mean virtues like loyalty, courage, honesty, faithfulness, respect, kindness, diligence, sexual chastity, caring, and a commitment to truth. Now it means Honoring Diversity. That includes not disagreeing with anybody who’s different from you–unless the difference is in their moral standards, especially in the realm of sexual chastity and a commitment to truth. Then you can disagree all day long. You can even drum them out of your program for it (caution: irony alert on that link).

There was also a time when colleges considered one of their chief purposes to be delivering an education. I’m very confident Professor Harrison holds that value in the highest regard. Maybe she sent out a university-wide email emphasizing it. If anyone knows, please pass that information along to me, if you would. It would be nice to confirm that she thought it important enough to mention.

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7 thoughts on “Character Development Is Alive and Well On the College Campus. Sort Of.

  1. I’m all for encouraging racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity…

    Just out of curiosity, why? (why encourage, I mean, as opposed to simply tolerate or promote tolerance for)

  2. Unfortunately this seems all to true on campuses across the US. Universities have move away from instilling these strong character traits, and towards promoting diversity and free thinking and acceptance. While free-thinking and acceptance are great, it is these other character traits that woven into a strong moral fiber, will serve as a foundation for the rest of your life. I just hope that Universities can move towards a vision that honors diversity, as well as, these other more classical virtues.

  3. Good question, David.

    Cultural diversity is a great way to experience more of life, to learn more, and to love more; for it’s more meaningful to love the one who is different than the one who is just like us. I think it’s clear God intended multiple cultures as ways of revealing aspects of his image in man that one culture alone could never capture. Of course I’ve already said that I wouldn’t extend that to things like idolatry and other sinful expressions of culture.

    The problem with tolerance is that it’s pretty bland and pathetic in comparison with biblical love. It’s a weak counterfeit of the real thing.

  4. Tom,

    I have to agree wholeheartedly. My wife is from Japan. Going through the process of understanding each other’s way of thinking has enriched our understanding of so many aspects of life, from politics, to child-raising, to what the church should look like. She became a Christian after coming to the U.S. The last time she visited her family, she had the chance to attend a local church. Japan is interesting in that Christianity has had very little influence historically, but Christians are not persecuted for their faith either. They’re just…on the outside. In a place where conformity is considered a cardinal virtue. It changed her perspective on what the local church should look like and do.

  5. I’m a student at The University of Texas at Austin, which is currently defending its race-influenced admissions policy before the Supreme Court. Yesterday, I read a good analysis of a portion of UT’s case on a group blog I frequent, The Volokh Conspiracy. (The contributors are all conservative or libertarian leaning law professors. It derives its name from Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA.) Here’s a link.

    Here’s one argument that I found especially juicy and that really exposes the dishonesty in UT’s diversity policy:

    The impact of Texas’ affirmative action policy on Asian-American applicants [who are adversely affected] raises serious questions about what the purpose of affirmative action actually is. As I have pointed out previously, if the goal is compensatory justice for groups that have been victimized by government discrimination, Asian-Americans have a strong case for being included in the program, and certainly should not be victimized by it. If, as the University of Texas argues, the purpose is ensuring that each group has a “critical mass” large enough to promote educationally beneficial “diversity,” then it is hard to understand why the Texas policy extends affirmative preferences to Hispanics, but not Asians, even though the former have a much larger absolute presence at the school..

    I’d like to add separately, since I’m leaving a comment, that I’ve heard that one of the big contributors to the rising cost of higher education is administrative bloat. At UT, as at most universities, presumably, we have an office headed by a VP-level administrator devoted to diversity concerns. He has half a dozen or so associate or assistant VPs working for him. Each of these people are probably receiving a salary in the low six figures, at least.

    I understand that as a WASP, I enjoy a certain level of privilege in our society. But that doesn’t clarify for me at all how it is that we have come to view diversity as the singular value that deserves an entire full-time staff dedicated to its promotion.

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