Stanford Students: Offering Western Civilization Classes Destroys Diversity

Why target Western civilization? This counter-campaign calling itself “Who’s Teaching Us?” (WTU) promotes diversity, which Western civilization—the civilization that eliminated slavery, empowered women, and introduced the idea of equality—apparently does not have enough of. WTU has drafted 24 demands to make the campus more diverse. One would subject SLE to a scorched-earth “reevaluate and reform” program. In the meantime, WTU would create an alternative to SLE that focuses on “social justice and anti-oppression scholarship, with an emphasis on works by people of color and PoC frameworks.”

WTU’s ambitions reach beyond the curriculum. It wants the people Stanford puts at the front of the classroom to be less white. Not only that, it wants the administrators to be less frequently white, and male. Among the list of demands is the injunction that the next president and provost should be neither white nor “cisgender” males.

The group also wants Stanford to hire at least ten new tenure-track ethnic studies professors and to pledge immediately—before any of these new professors are hired or receive student evaluations or teaching performance assessments—the university’s “commitment to the retention of these professors.” It ignores, as the editors of the Stanford Review point out, that “Stanford’s faculty is more diverse than that of the average American college, and Stanford hires disproportionate numbers of minorities relative to the number of minorities who graduate with doctorates.” WTU appears fine with disproportionality so long as it favors “minorities.” It proposes that the student body should have “at least…proportional representation of minority group members.”

Lest Stanford’s currently white-dominated faculty accidentally offend students, WTU would create a system for all Stanford community members to report anonymously “microaggressions” that faculty commit; these microaggressions would be classified as “Acts of Intolerance” (that is, hate speech) and departments would be required to consider these records when evaluating professors. Stanford already requires every student to take a course on “Engaging Diversity,” but Who’s Teaching Us would require a second such class. It would reform both diversity courses so that they focus only on “power, privilege, and systems of oppression.” WTU’s position seems to be that no one may learn about another culture—even to appreciate it—without fixating on how that culture was victimized and oppressed.