Diversity Drift

9 Wake Forest Law Review Online 14, 2019

7 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2019

Date Written: February 28, 2019


Diversity may be under attack in the age of Trump, but higher education in America has its own diversity problem. If mission statements and strategic plans offer any guidance, many of America’s colleges and universities actively value diversity. Yet even as calls for diversity grow, these calls far too often lack a clear and coherent normative anchor. Institutions often seek “diversity” without first having done the work to define, precisely, why they want diversity, or to identify, concretely, what sorts of diversity will get them there.

As a result, universities have become susceptible to diversity drift, whereby good intentions invite unintended — and at times, perverse — consequences. Seemingly innocuous language (as simple as calls to hire and admit “diverse people”), for instance, risks reifying whiteness as an institutional baseline against which students and faculty of color are rendered perpetual outsiders. And untethered to history, context, and power, calls for diversity can fall victim to false equivalencies that deny any principled distinction between those who would #TakeAKnee to honor Black lives and those who travel the college circuit to mock, demean, and insult.

Keywords: race, diversity, education, social science

Suggested Citation

Feingold, Jonathan, Diversity Drift (February 28, 2019). 9 Wake Forest Law Review Online 14, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3344783

Jonathan Feingold (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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