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Saturday, July 19, 2014

University of Wisconsin Diversity Plan Requires 'Proportional Participation' in Grades, Majors

The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, Madness in Madison:

WisconsinThe University of Wisconsin's latest diversity plan calls for "equity" in high-demand majors and the distribution of grades

Many American colleges and universities are in the thrall of “diversity,” but none more so than my institution, the University of Wisconsin. This spring, the university adopted a new plan [Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence] that, according to Board of Regents policy, “[p]laces the mission of diversity at the center of institutional life so that it becomes a core organizing principle.” ...

Let us take a closer look at one of these working definitions included, namely “representational equity.” It calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.” 

We are not told exactly what adherence to this will entail. It appears to mean that directors of programs and departmental chairs will have to somehow ensure that they have a mix of students with just the right percentages of individuals who embody the various “differences” included in the definition of diversity. I cannot see how that is possible and even if it were, how it improves any student’s education.

Suppose there were a surge of interest in a high demand field such as computer science. Under the “equity” policy, it seems that some of those who want to study this field would be told that they’ll have to choose another major because computer science already has “enough” students from their “difference” group.  

Especially shocking is the language about “equity” in the distribution of grades. Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, “historically underrepresented racial/ethnic” students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.  

At the very least, this means even greater expenditures on special tutoring for weaker targeted minority students. It is also likely to trigger a new outbreak of grade inflation, as professors find out that they can avoid trouble over “inequitable” grade distributions by giving every student a high grade.

Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee), Higher Education Update:  "'Diversity” Plan' Involves Grading By Race And Ethnicity:  "Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, ‘underrepresented racial/ethnic’ students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students."

Ann Althouse (Wisconsin), The University of Wisconsin-Madison's "'Diversity' Plan Involves Grading By Race And Ethnicity"... Really?:  "[R]epresentational equity in grading is a goal. Who doesn't share that goal? It's not outrageous unless it's outrageously banal: We want all our students to do well."

Update:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/07/university-of-wisconsin.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

I'm afraid this will be just another step in the decline of UW from a respected national institution to something of a self-parody.

Posted by: michael livingston | Jul 20, 2014 3:27:13 AM

What a joke! I thought Madison was bad when I attended from 89-91 under Donna Shalala's free speech violating politacally correct speech code (later found to be an illegal violation of the First Amendment by courts), but this is getting ridiculous now.
All you minorities who go along with this don't complain when people ask for another doctor, lawyer, or other professional when we don't know if you became a professional on your merits or were slide into and through places like UW.

Posted by: eric olson | Jul 21, 2014 3:38:46 PM

Both conservatives and liberals are failing to grasp what is happening here. A cohort of academics who have built their careers on the particular issue of diversity are running out of battles to fight. This is about maintaining professional relevancy, which requires that there always be a debate going on this topic. Having won all reasonable concessions years ago, they are forced to push the boundaries into the absurd.

Posted by: JM | Jul 22, 2014 6:22:14 AM