Higher Education is at a crossroads. With the Trump Administration pulling back Obama era policies promoting student diversity, many institutions such as Harvard University and the University of Texas are pushing back. There are many arguments for and against the use of race to determine student population, but in an interesting article from The Conversation entitled, For universities, making the case for diversity is part of making amends for racist past, historical context was provided to defend the need for diversity.
In the article, the author makes it clear the not too perfect history of higher education in America and its close relationship with the Eugenics movement. According to the article, “Eugenicists championed ideas of racial superiority. For them, the Nordic “race” – that is, people from Northern Europe, like Anglo-Americans – was the master race.”
So why does this matter? “The movement was led by presidents of elite private institutions like Harvard, Yale and Stanford, and also at public universities like Michigan and Wisconsin.” This led to 376 American colleges “offering courses on the subject by the late 1920s” which spread to policies affecting immigration, the justice system, and marriage.
Higher education can influence an entire generation as it pertains to benefits, opportunities, and more. If educational institutions do a poor job of educating their students, polices are created based on that. As has been noted, a lack of diversity / perspective and prolong a toxic idea for decades.
Simply accepting a student based on race is not an answer but taking it into consideration should be. There are many other benefits as well including the “need for a diverse and well-educated workforce to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse marketplace or the belief that diversity fosters innovation and creativity. Another reason is based on the idea that diversity enriches the educational experience of all students on campus, not just minorities.”
In the end we are in a period of transition. Hopefully the policies in place today will not be be needed in the future, but to completely disregard them and ignore the historical context that put us into the predicament will only continue to hurt those affected by the pasts mistakes.