The progressives’ imposition of identity politics on Virginia’s public universities continues apace. Hans Bader has already called attention to a July announcement by George Mason University’s new president, Gregory Washington, of a “Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence.”
None of Virginia’s media outlets seem to have paid attention. Your humble correspondent decided to take a closer look at what is going on at GMU.
As Washington acknowledged in announcing the task force, GMU “enters this national conversation with an admirable track record as a pace-setter of action for racial justice and truth-telling about our own past.” He cited the establishment of the Trust, Racial Healing and Transformation campus center, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution (“one of the nation’s very few schools dedicated to social justice and peace”) and the Enslaved People project to “fell the full truth of our university’s namesake.” He also noted that GMU hosts “Virginia’s largest and most diverse university student body.”
But that’s not enough. The new task force will dig deeper, addressing:
- Faculty salary equity. The university will work to correct “any issues” over a three-year period.
- Inclusive excellence planning. Each college and school will establish “inclusive excellence” plans that articulate a metric driven, anti-racism and inclusiveness agenda.
- Implicit bias training. Mason will establish an Inclusive Excellence Certificate Program to certify that the necessary people have completed their bias training.
- Implicit bias recognition in faculty promotion and tenure. Address implicit bias, discrimination, and other equity issues such as invisible and uncredited labor to support faculty of color and women in their professional work.
- Equity advisors. Advisors in every department will participate in faculty recruiting and “address individual issues raised by women and faculty from underrepresented groups.”
- Uncredited emotional labor. Recognize the “invisible and uncredited emotional labor” that people of color expend to learn, teach and work on campus.
- Anti-racist syllabi. Require an anti-racism statement on all syllabi.
- Names and memorials. Evaluate names of university buildings and memorials.
“My vision is nothing short of establishing George Mason University as a national exemplar of anti-racism and inclusive excellence in action,” said Washington. “Given the considerable head start we have on most of our sister institutions in the United States, this is a vision we can realize.”
Washington assures the GMU community that members of the task force will be diverse — as in, representing the full diversity of GMU racial, ethnic, gender, sexual identity and religious identity groups. He said nothing about representing a diversity of philosophical or political viewpoints.
While Washington acknowledges that GMU, like other universities, faces tremendous financial pressure as it copes with the COVID-19 virus, the university will make a $5 million commitment over three years to strengthen initiatives already underway.
Bacon’s bottom line: Bader addresses the GMU race initiatives from a legal perspective, and his post is worth reading if you missed it. I want to examine whether the initiatives will even accomplish their goal of making GMU a more hospitable place for African-Americans.
The choice of vocabulary in these initiatives is truly Orwellian. I question how much “racial healing” there will be. I expect the “truths” to emerge will tell only one side of the story — the side that fits the left-wing Oppression Narrative. And I expect that “anti-racism” will conform to the current academic understanding of that term that emphasizes white guilt, privilege and fragility.
Will a leftist obsession with racial identity do anything to make GMU more hospitable to minorities? Or will feeding the sense of grievance, victimhood, intrinsic white racism, and pervasive institutional injustice prompt African-Americans to “circle their wagons,” so to speak, and self-segregate as a psychological self-defense mechanism? As minorities tend to view every interaction through the prism of racial grievance, will they be more likely to perceive every slight or misunderstanding as a racially motivated micro-aggression? And if every slight or misunderstanding is perceived as racist, will white students be encouraged to reach out and establish friendships across races? Or will they decided it is safer just to disengage and not risk creating an incident?
Will race relations get better, or will they get worse?
What is the real goal of all this? Do we want Americans to regard race as a meaningless characteristic that should have no influence in how we judge each other as individuals? That’s what the original Civil Rights revolution was all about. Or do we want to make race the fundamental determinant of our identity?
That’s the fundamental choice. We can be a nation of individuals who interact with one another as individuals, regardless of race, religion or ethnic heritage, or we can be a nation defined by animosities between races and ethnic groups. If you like the second choice, you’ll love what’s happening at GMU.There are currently no comments highlighted.