With all of the major legislation being passed this evening and late into the night by the Maryland General Assembly, sometimes things of little import do not get noticed. The hat tip goes to blogger Hans Bader for noticing this little item that will soon become the law of the state.
As passed, each private institution of higher learning in Maryland will need to report to the state on their efforts to “promote and enhance cultural diversity” in their student body, while public institutions “shall…implement a plan for a program of cultural diversity” or steps to improve on one they already have adopted. Included in the mandate is “a process for reporting campus-based hate crimes.”
However, deleted from the bill requiring the report from private colleges was the paragraph requiring a determination of “whether the enhancement of cultural diversity has improved the retention and graduation rate of a culturally diverse student body.” We can only judge these things on intentions and not actual results. Isn’t the idea of an institution of higher learning that of actually teaching students the ability of critical thinking?
But what is cultural diversity anyway? In the language of SB438, this includes “racial or ethnic groups or individuals who that are or have been underrepresented in higher education.” So could that mean being a white male makes one culturally diverse? After all, males are now a minority on college campuses, and if you look at traditionally black schools like UMES or Coppin State, certainly those schools are less than ideally and proportionately populated insofar as racial background goes. It’s possible that the intent of the bill addresses this, but my guess is they’ll get a pass because of their tradition.
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Unfortunately, what this bill does not address is diversity of thought, something completely lacking in most college classrooms. However, the bill did pass pretty handily which is a sad commentary on our General Assembly. It passed 41-6 in the State Senate (thank you to Andy Harris for voting no, wish I could say the same about my own State Senator) while the Senate’s version as amended passed 120-19 in the House of Delegates.
So every year, colleges all across Maryland will now have to spend time and money making sure they can stay in good graces with the diversity police rather than doing something radical like educating the students.
Crossposted on monoblogue.