The Department of Justice has recently charged Yale University with racial discrimination in its undergraduate admissions and thus being in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. At least superficially, everything thus far follows a familiar, oft-repeated script that began in 1978 with the Bakke case. According to the DOJ probe, “Yale grants substantial, and often determinative, preferences based on race to certain racially-favored applicants and relatively and significantly disfavors other applicants because of their race. Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants.” To be sure, the DOJ is willing to accept some racial discrimination, but it must be “narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest,” and Yale, allegedly, fails this test. Finally, the DOJ gives Yale until August 27, 2020 to end voluntarily this discrimination or face a lawsuit.
And, in accordance with this script, Yale denies nearly everything. President Peter Salovey dismisses the accusations as “baseless” and adds that Yale has fully cooperated with the DOJ investigation. He adds, “Given our university’s commitment to complying with federal law, I am dismayed that the DOJ inexplicably rushed to conclude its investigation without conducting a fully informed analysis, which would have shown that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent.” President Salovey even sounds a bit belligerent: “Yale College will not change its admissions processes in response to today’s letter because the DOJ is seeking to impose a standard that is inconsistent with existing law. We will continue to look at the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants. … We will continue to create a student body that is rich in a diverse range of ideas, expertise, and experiences. …”
Needless to say, everyone recognizes the Kabuki theatre—the documented evidence of racial discrimination is “oversized” (to use DOJ language), the diversity rationale is flimsy, and President Salovey can hardly be expected to publicly confess to illegal behavior. Surely everybody on campus notices that nearly all blacks owe their admission to politics. Now, if the Yale case followed the well-worn script of universities caught practicing illegal racial discrimination, this brouhaha would soon disappear. That is, Yale would promise to alter its policies and perhaps temporarily admit a few more Asians and whites while eliminating blatant legal violations. With time, however, the old abuses will slip back in thanks, no doubt, to more secretive directives to admission officers or tinkering with standards such as abolishing the SAT requirement to fake compliance.
Unfortunately for President Salovey, the traditional escape route of trimming the worst abuses of preferences before sneaking them back will be more difficult this time around. The obstacle is Yale’s extensive “Diversity and inclusion” bureaucracy that will resist the customary Kabuki charade. We are not speaking of the usual gaggle of annoying campus Social Justice Warriors demanding “more diversity” who, thankfully, will eventually graduate or the woke faculty insisting that Physics be more inclusive.
Those unfamiliar with today’s campus diversity mania will amazed at Yale bureaucratic commitment. Being a private school, it is nearly impossible to obtain budgetary figures, but, lack of financial data aside, it is clearly huge, and like the old Soviet Communist Party, it can be likened to a parallel state with a network of commissars, apparatchiki and functionaries who earn their keep prodding Yale to hire more blacks. As the official mission statement of this bureaucracy put it, “We provide a range of information, consultation and educational supports to the Yale community on issues related to workforce diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect.” Moreover, as was true in the USSR with its multiple state-run affinity groups such as the Young Pioneers, there are various student groups, for example, the Afro-American Cultural Center and La Casa Cultural.
Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences exemplifies this bountifulness. It is headed up by Michelle Nearon, Senior Associate Dean & Director of Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity, with the help of a Senior Administrative Assistant. The Office also includes thirteen OGSDD Fellows drawn from various Yale Departments, most of whom are African American women judging from their photographs.
These Yale Diversitycrats are a busy bunch. Mentoring students is particularly important and programs, sometimes held several times a month, separately target undergraduates, graduate students, advanced graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Among other tasks, they help communicate and publicize Yale’s diversity milestones. Meanwhile, OGSDD graduate student fellows host regular Social Justice Workshops where small groups meet (often over a meal) to explore topics such as race and racism, academic diversity, policing and environmental injustice.
To encourage scholarship there are ten Dean’s Emerging Scholars Research Awards per year awarded to currently-matriculated Ph.D. students whose purpose is to help students with field work and attend professional conferences (one-time \$2,000 awards also help cover expenses). Throw in fifteen \$3000 Dean’s Emerging Scholars Fellowships per year (plus \$2000 in research funds) to incoming Ph.D. graduate students across all programs. Recipients will be chosen with the input of the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Student Development and Diversity. All and all, lots of paperwork and meeting to dispense race-based benefits.
Creating a more diverse faculty is also very much on the agenda and since 2015 Yale has committed more than \$50 million to diversify its faculty. Much of this new funding is labor intensive, for example, offering training to eliminate implicit bias, creating university-wide teaching programs to help “under-represented faculty” enter STEM fields and together with Yale’s School of Management, “… empower mid-career faculty with the skills they will need as future leaders in higher education.” And to ensure progress, the Provost will collect data on school and department demography.
Never mentioned, perhaps not even acknowledged in one’s private thoughts, is why helping “under-served minorities” requires extra millions for an army of bureaucrats. Nor does anyone dare ask why Yale never made a similar effort to help other once-excluded groups when they initially became Yalies. Did the first wave of Jewish professors require instruction form crusty WASPs regarding proper attire or conversing without shouting? It’s a bit ironic that many of Yale’s Asian newcomers probably grew up in first-generation immigrant families unschooled in Ivy League etiquette.
Will anyone dare calculate the opportunity costs of this enterprise vis-à-vis the alleged diversity dividend? An economist might conclude that diversity must be hugely beneficial given Yale’s fiscal commitment. Perhaps this calculation explains soaring tuition—a Yale BA now includes a significant diversity component and the cost of adding this de lux ingredient is so large that tuition must be correspondently increased. If this diversity component in the Yale degree vanished, would tuition similarly fall? Would the diversity-less Yale degree plummet in value so Goldman Saks recruiters no longer sought out its graduates?
Most important, those challenging racial preferences must now confront an obstacle far more formidable than just pushing virtue-signaling administrators to embrace merit in admissions. The very prospect of substantially reducing black enrollment raises the possibility of scaling down the diversity colossus and these cutbacks will undoubtedly bring the threat of campus violence likely egged on by the diversity apparatchiki themselves. After all, Mau-mauing is a proven strategy. The days of Kabuki theater of quietly negotiating a cosmetic consent decree with government lawyers are over. Nor will it make any difference if President Salovey tells the soon-to-be-fired that Yale must submit to the DOJ or face massive cuts in federal funding. Who cares about research funding for white academics? Nor will the soon to be ex-Assistant Deans of Diversity and Inclusion take solace in the assurances that thousands of businesses needing experts in mentoring African Americans will quickly hire these ex-Yales. The pot will boil.
Rest assured; countless other schools will get the message at the first sign of mayhem. Even to hint of cutting the bureaucratic bloat risks violence and attract hardened agitators form outside the campus. Portland OR here we come and timid administrators may well promise to keep the diversity apparatus alive even if there is hardly anybody to mentor.
What makes this dilemma so troublesome is that it is built on deceit. Its very existence is but a way of bribing academically unqualified blacks who might otherwise demand actual faculty positions. Harvard, Princeton and dozens of other elite institutions surely know the score: better to have a make-work administrator trying to root out imaginary toxic white racism than letting them teach chemistry. Think of the diversity nomenklatura mania as a damage limiting, not benefit maximizing strategy, no doubt perfectly rational given Yale huge endowment and ability to tap private funds that advance virtue signaling. It may end, however, thanks to increasing court skepticism. This may not be a good time to be on campus. Stay tuned.