Remember in the 1990s when people were claiming that Affirmative Action was Reverse Racism? People who were highly qualified for positions were passed over because companies were looking for minority candidates to fill their quotas. People all over were angry about it, and lawyers made a killing (I assume) suing people. I’ve never been comfortable with the phrase “reverse racism.” Racism is racism, whether you’re black and being discriminated against, or white and being discriminated against, but in the continuing anger over atrocities that happened during the Civil Rights movements in the ‘60s, it was politically incorrect to say that racism was perpetrated against a non-minority person.
I remember it, and, as a minority myself, I remember thinking this was going to do more harm than good. I am now terrified to see it happening again… at the college level. College is the place where young people and, in the case of “non-traditional” students, not-so-young people can explore life and determine who they are; figure out what it is they truly believe.
Think back on some of the college movies you’ve seen: remember the images of the incoming freshman (usually the protagonist or some other key player) walking around the quad/courtyard/assembly hall and walking by the individual booths of various student organizations? Each organization had some creed or philosophy that was central to their group, be it a religious ideal, a cultural identity, or a political philosophy. Occasionally, there might be a student who is part of the organization that you wouldn’t expect, for instance, there might be a very liberal looking hippie type as a member of the uber-conservative Young Republican group, or a Caucasian student associated with the an African American club, but generally, each group has a stereotypical image that makes it easy to distinguish them from the other groups.
Recently, this is beginning to change. Vanderbilt University has begun implementing its “all comers” policy, which states that all student organizations must accept any student into it. For instance, the Asian-American club must accept any Hispanic student that would like to join, or the Christian groups must allow the Muslims in. On the surface, this doesn’t really seem to be a problem; after all, experiencing new ideas and cultures is what the college experience is all about, right? Vanderbilt is taking it one step further, however, and forcing them to accept these members who do not follow the integral principles of the organization as group leaders. So a devout atheist may become the leader of the University’s FCA organization, or, as is already the case, a non-Asian male may become the leader of the Asian-American organization.
The policy, which has been around since the Civil Rights movements of the ‘60s, is being implemented to keep religious organizations from excluding homosexual students. This is a noble cause, but it will back-fire just as Affirmative Action did. By implementing this policy, the university has actually made these organizations more resistant. It opens the door for people taking advantage of and corrupting these organizations. One student put it very succinctly: “”If someone that doesn’t share the faith is teaching, then what’s the point of even having these organizations?”
Personally, I wouldn’t want to be part of an organization that didn’t want me as a member. It seems like a hate crime in the making. In order to keep whatever group they deem undesirable out, eventually someone will decide the best way to remove them will be to discourage them from joining in the first place. The more you try to make people accept an idea, the more resistant to it they will become.
What do you think?