The Corner

Education

Why is ‘Civil Rights’ Returning Us to Segregation?

Getting rid of segregation was the great victory of the old Civil Rights movement. But now we’re seeing a return to segregation on college campuses with racially exclusive housing and racially themed centers. Thanks to race-hustlers who keep telling young “people of color” that the white world is against them, those students are convinced that they’ll be better off with separate accommodations and “safe” spaces.

One school where this is happening is North Carolina State, where there is a proposal to create housing units reserved just for African-American women. In today’s Martin Center piece, writer Dan Way of the John Locke Foundation looks into the arguments for and against segregated college housing. One of the most “con” people is Irwin Holmes, the first black student to earn a degree from NC State, back in 1960. He sees no gain at all in retreating toward segregation.

On the other hand, Nashia Whittenburg, the director of multicultural affairs at NC State, argues that this move could improve student retention by making “underrepresented” students feel more welcomed.

I think this is one of the many instances where an administrator with an essentially useless job is trying to keep busy and look important. The fixation on race won’t do anything to help minority students live in America.

Way also considers the legal angle. Doesn’t it violate the Civil Rights Act for an educational institution that receives federal funds to discriminate in any way? It’s at lest arguably a violation to have housing or other programs that are reserved for students of a particular race. Law professor Irving Joyner responds that a defense might be that a university has a “compelling interest” in ensuring that no students feel “alienated.”

Nonsense — the best way to keep students from feeling alienated is to stop treating them as group “representatives” and treat them just like all the other students.

I agree with Way’s conclusion: “In the name of ‘inclusion,’ they may end up perpetuating the exclusionary campus culture that Irwin Holmes and others fought against decades ago.” The sad truth is that the Civil Rights movement has turned divisive and retrograde in a desperate attempt to make itself seem needed today.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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