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Friday, March 21, 2008

Diversity Survey at University of Wisconsin

I just caught this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's JSOnline page, and it got me wondering.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh,
UW-Stevens Point and the 13 two-year UW colleges will conduct campuswide climate surveys this spring to find out more about how comfortable their campuses are for students, faculty and staff from different racial, ethnic, gender and other
groups
.

I'm trying to figure out what they mean by "different racial, ethnic, gender and other groups", does that mean all groups, or just non-white male groups?

Administrators at all the schools hope the results, due next fall, will help them identify problem areas and make the campuses more inclusive and comfortable.
One hopes this means for all students, not just those of "different" backgrounds. Generally though, this type of survey is meant to make one or another "disadvantaged group" feel comfortable, often at the expense of others.

These types of surveys, and their results generally can't make everyone feel good. Which means that the administration(s) will be forced to figure out which of the groups is least comfortable, and make the changes to suit them.

The problem is, as often happens, the changes for one group may well annoy another, and a future survey will find new problems. Then what?

Take for instance, Montgomery County, MD, who was set to pass a bill allowing folks with a sexual identity issue to use what ever restroom THEY felt comfortable with. Suddenly other folks who were uncomfortable with that idea (and a very poorly worded law) came out and put a halt to it. (read about it at the Washington Post)

What will happen on the campuses when they run into a similar issue? Then a new survey (at the cost of $147,000) will be done to figure out how to fix that problem?

The problem is when you try to pacify everyone, you will end up inflaming everyone pretty much. You can't make everything all inclusive to everyone without stepping on toes. And when you do, the owners of the toes will yell. It ends up being a circle of whining, where nothing gets accomplished.

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