The apologia by Kenyon College’s dean of admissions for her college’s policy of discriminating against female applicants in favor of promoting campus gender balance has raised hackles from traditional opponents of affirmative action and proponents alike. Closer to my regular reading lists, Laura of 11D also reacts.
My sense is that Ms. Britz’s argument, like most supporting affirmative action of any kind as an end in and of itself (or those justifying it in any terms other than as a narrowly-focused effort to redress past discrimination at institutions that engaged in such discrimination in the past), falls on its face, but that Kenyon—as a private institution—ought to be able to pursue whatever admissions policies it thinks are appropriate, no matter how misguided the college may be. Of course, whether or not taxpayers ought to subsidize those policies directly or indirectly, which they do at Kenyon and most other institutions of higher education in this country, is another question entirely…
The blaring headline on today’s Duke Chronicle is “Unrest hits Main West.” I hate to think how they’d report a riot.
Meanwhile, for those of you out in the real world beyond Duke, go read Timothy Burke’s response to the Kenyon debacle.
Update: Actual news on the rape allegations is here, including the not-very-shocking revelation that there are lacrosse team members who have faced alcohol-related charges in the past (your Claude Raines moment of the day) and the news that what really made the dancers run for the door wasn’t the alleged racial slur about the provenance of one of the players’ shirts but instead that “one of the men watching held up a broomstick and threatened to sexually assault the women,” presumably using said broomstick. (þ: UD)
Perhaps those of my former colleagues at Millsaps who mocked the administration’s investment in our on-campus football field will think again; a growing trend, particularly at Division III schools, is to recruit male students by starting, reactivating, or reinvigorating varsity football teams.
While I am mildly sympathetic with the argument that there are times when scholar-athletes spend too much time emphasizing the latter half of the hyphenate, I have to say that I’ve never had a problem with the athletes in my classes either at Division I-A schools like Duke and Ole Miss or at D-3 Millsaps. That said, the merits of achieving a 50–50 gender balance on campus are debatable at best, even at places where the admissions game is a bit less zero-sum than at the elite colleges and universities.