Civil libertarians recoil at the intrusiveness of these programs, but diversity advocates embrace their forays into amateur psychoanalysis: As the CUNY report advises,
Even people who have strong egalitarian values and believe that they are not biased may unconsciously behave in discriminatory ways. ... Becoming aware of unconscious assumptions and behaviors that influence interactions enables all faculty to minimize these beliefs and behaviors and derive maximum benefits from diversity.
In other words, if you're a CUNY faculty member, your unconscious is New York City's business.
It's good business for management consultants, as well as college and university administrators. CUNY worked with Cambridge Hill Partners, which offers such profound insights as "faculty compensation is a key factor related to retention," along with the usual, soporific strategic planning and vision statement rhetoric, in a 156 page report that seems righteously unaware of its own internal contradictions.
It suggests, for example, that under-represented groups (known as URGs) aren't actually under-represented: "(T)he University's URG representation is good," the report concedes. And while advising university administrators to move "beyond head counts of URG faculty," the CUNY report is filled with detailed statistics, tables, and pie charts tracing the university's record in hiring or promoting various groups.
We learn, for example, that in 2005, "119 faculty were hired of which 1 (0.8%) was American Indian or Alaskan Native, 21 (17.6%) were Asian, 6 (5.0%) were Black/African-American, 12 (10.1%) were Hispanic/Latino(a) (not including Puerto Rican), 4 (3.4%) were Italian American, 3 (2.5%) were Puerto Rican and 72 (60.5%) were White/Caucasian." We also learn about the rates at which members of these groups were promoted, down to a tenth of a percentage point. Apparently you have to engage in "head-counting" to move beyond it.
Am I being insensitive? Perhaps; I would probably be expelled from sensitivity school. But diversity advocates who are painstakingly sensitive to what they imagine are the feelings of "under-represented groups" and "underrepresented minorities" are often grossly insensitive to the rights of people who regard their unconscious attitudes and behaviors as their own business.
Put aside the idiocies of head-counting every demographic group along with every group distinguished by some "other characteristic of social identity." Put aside the futility of engaging in stereotyping in order to defeat it. What's arguably most troubling about the cult of diversity is its disregard for academic freedom. The influence of therapeutic ideals on higher education is not new, and it has proven quite repressive. For years now, in the interests of creating diverse, "inclusive," and "nurturing" environments for vulnerable students, college and university administrators have created hostile environments for free speech.
This lamentable phenomenon was entirely predictable. Intellectual development requires intellectual combat, and combat is not governed by a desire to help your adversaries feel good about themselves. "Diversity creates opportunities to engage in difficult dialogues about challenging issues," the CUNY report claims. Not really.