May 30, 2017

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The False Promise of “Community” on Campus.

“The primary reason we wanted to do this is we really wanted to come together to celebrate Harvard black excellence and brilliance. … This is really an opportunity for students to build fellowship and build a community.”

That was Michael Huggins, president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, explaining why the group has organized a separate graduation ceremony for black students this week. There are plenty of reasons to balk at the event — the segregationist tendency, for starters. But there is also reason to wonder why it is that students who have spent four years or more at one of the most comprehensive, most exclusive universities in the country are still struggling to find “fellowship” and “community.”

University administrators like to throw around the word community. There is the African-American community, the Latino community and the mixed-race community, not to mention the Jewish community, the Muslim community and the Wiccan community. There is the LGBT community, the athletic community, the scientific community and the arts community.

Unfortunately, most students do not seem to feel that they are part of the college community. UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that only 28.7 percent of seniors graduating from baccalaureate institutions strongly agreed that they have a sense of belonging to their college community.

And university administrators, perhaps partly because they are so busy dividing students into various racial or sexual affinity groups, are not fixing the problem.

Well, that’s because they don’t want to. They are not fostering this division by accident. Years ago an ex-girlfriend of mine who had spent time in Tito’s Yugoslavia took a job at Berkeley’s admissions office. Her take on the PC culture then was that it was exactly like Tito’s — “you’re all hopelessly divided and only by submitting to me can you have peace.” It’s kind of self-fulfilling. . . .

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