End the diversity obsession

Joey Bagnasco

I fully realize that the opinions expounded upon in this column are neither unobjectionable nor in line with the prevailing socio-political tide.

I also don’t really care.

I am not worried about breaking commonly held views, assuming that my direction is toward a well thought-out conclusion. In this spirit, I do not intend to treat the sensitive subject of diversity harshly, but cannot in  good conscience subject a distasteful reality, as I see it to the bounds of complaisance.

The diversity of Villanova’s student body, or lack thereof, has been a topic of much discussion as of late. Much has been made of the University’s efforts toward diversifying its population, and terms such as “Vanilla-nova” have pointed to a failure in this respect. 

Obviously, the term diversity entails variety in terms of race as well as of attitude, gender, nationality, experience, background and many other factors.  

However, the current discussion predominately concerns race.  

Frankly, I am weary of hearing about diversity – tired of reading about it, tired of writing about it. This has come about not just because of the ridiculous frequency with which this buzzword has been used, but more so because of the attitudes underlying its use which I perceive as absurd.  

My chief complaint is the existence of a fundamental misconception which labels any large group of homogeneous people (racially) as a product of segregation which desperately needs to be fixed.  

To me, this idea that separation necessarily results from some injustice is completely flawed.  

This type of thinking calls every cat a tiger!  By this I mean that it ignores the possibility that a uniform congregation of people can exist without having excluded anyone.  

In regards to race, it finds flaws in every institution which is seen as underrepresenting people who happen to be minorities in this country.    

The elephant in the room is, of course, racism. Underpinning the concern that Villanova might lack racial diversity is the apprehension that minorities may have somehow been discriminated against because of their race. 

This is not the place for a full examination of the merits of affirmative action practices, but I think Villanova is in absolutely no danger of being accused of prejudicial acceptance practices against minorities. 

Again, I am making the assumption that in this modern age, racism is a nonissue at our school, and I sincerely hope that I am not mistaken. The perceived problem then, is that we simply do not attract enough minority students.  

I believe that racial diversity in a student body is a positive feature, but the prevailing attitude seems to be that it is an absolutely critical one in every situation, the lack of which will take away from the educational atmosphere of a school.  

My critique of this view is that it hints at elitism and inspires a kind of senseless guilt in nonminority individuals.  

It bothers me that instead of celebrating the equal, and sometimes even preferential, treatment which all students now enjoy, people are using statistics to harp on a lack of diversity. 

The U.S. census projects that approximately 80 percent of all Americans are “white” as of 2008. Why then is the fact that Villanova educates around 76 percent white people viewed as such a problem? 

The oversimplification of diversity as solely an issue of race is partially responsible, as is a lack of trust in the progress toward equality in our society.    

To avoid any false impressions of my opinions, I would like to clarify that I am not at all against the reality of a diverse student body. 

I fully support efforts toward inclusion of all types of people as long as they do not subjugate others.  

The position I have tried to take is not against any minority or majority group of people, but against the underlying notion that diversity can be measured in statistics and that these numbers, independent of any indication of prejudice, can be a cause for complaint.    

I am of the Ferris Bueller camp, agreeing wholeheartedly with his conviction that, “A person should not believe in an ‘-ism,’ he should believe in himself.” 

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       Joey Bagnasco is a sophomore English major from Waco, Texas. He can be reached at [email protected]