Phi Beta Cons

Doubling Down on Diversity

Teachers College has looked to itself and discovered the real problem:  not enough multiculturalism.
On October  9, when Professor Madonna Constantine at Columbia University’s Teachers College found that someone had attached a noose to the door of her office, firm denunciations issued in every direction.  President Bollinger declared. “I know I speak on behalf of every member of our communities in condemning this horrible action.”  Matters took a strange turn when Columbia initially refused to turn over to the police images from seven security cameras.   Columbia relented, but we are still waiting to hear if the 56 hours of images provided any useful clues.  Meanwhile, the noose on Professor Constantine’s door has become the occasion for more histrionics.  Last week, there was a candlelight vigil in the Teachers College courtyard and an earnest plea from Patrice Turner, an instructor at the College, who told the students, “I need you to survive.” 
Still, something seemed to be missing.  What is the one thing that occurs to college officials in the midst of a crisis?  Of course, diversity.   No matter the problem, it seems, diversity is the answer. 
The good news for connoisseurs of campus ideology is that Columbia did indeed come through.  On October 15, Susan H. Fuhrman, president of Teachers College, sent an email to alumni that explained, “Within the College, this horrible incident prompted a constructive, open discussion about what could be done to further improve the climate at TC – including a redoubled emphasis on recruiting African American faculty and students, and a reconsideration of whether we place sufficient emphasis on multiculturalism in our course offerings.” 
I rather doubt that Teachers College is short on courses about multiculturalism.  The current catalog lists A&HA 4079 “Exploring Cultural Diversity:  Implications for Arts Education,”  A&HH 5900 “History of African American Education,”  A&HT 4080 “Teaching in Linguistically Diverse Classrooms,” A&HF 4194 “Dialogue and Difference in the Multicultural Classroom,” A&HW 5030  “Diversity and the Social Studies Curriculum,” A&HE 5518 “Teaching English in Diverse Social and Cultural Contexts,” CCPJ 5020 “Racism and Racial Identity in Psychology and Education,”  CCPJ 5164 “Multicultural Counseling and Psychology,” and many more.   Multiculturalism is also woven into numerous other courses without a hat tip too diversity in the their titles. 
We may become so used to multicultural bromides that we no longer register the emptiness of President Fuhrman’s gesture.  Just how would adding yet more ‘“emphasis on multiculturalism in our course offerings” serve Teachers College?  Is there a single student in the College who doesn’t already know the multiculturalist view of things inside and  out?   But this is how ideology plays out:  if it doesn’t produce the social consequences its proponents dream of, they just double down. 


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