Cornell embraces racial diversity, eschews ideological diversity

The task force was created in response to student demands issued in the wake of recent racially-charged incidents, including one in which a student caused a stir by chanting "build a wall."

Cornell University recently launched a task force devoted to enhancing the racial diversity of faculty, just a few months after the Student Assembly rejected a resolution supporting ideological diversity.

Cornell University recently launched a task force devoted to diversifying faculty amid mounting demands from student activists.

The effort, however, comes several months after a failed attempt by the Student Assembly to pass a resolution in favor of “expanding ideological diversity among faculty members,” which was inspired by a 2015 Cornell Daily Sun report revealing that more than 96 percent of faculty political donations went to Democratic candidates.

[RELATED: Latinos ask Cornell to punish frat for 'build a wall' chant]

Now, according to The Cornell Chronicle, Provost Michael Kotlikoff has assembled a group of faculty members with “experience in hiring and retaining underrepresented academic employees” to present a series of recommendations on the best practices for retaining minority faculty.  

“The goal of the task force is to provide recommendations to the provost on how we can grow and maintain a diverse faculty,” Professor Mark Lewis, chair of the task force, remarked. “We will focus on both the recruitment and retention of faculty from underrepresented groups.”

The task force is a result of several high-profile incidents on campus, including one in which a fraternity member chanted “build a wall,” and another involving a black student who was allegedly called a “n*****” and punched by a group of white students.

These incidents provoked outrage on campus, particularly from the La Asociación Latina and Black Students United student groups, which demanded that the university address racism on campus. Kotlikoff’s task force is one response to those demands, and President Martha Pollack expressed hope that it will “address persistent problems of bigotry and intolerance” on campus.

“Over the past few weeks, my senior leadership team and I met with a broad spectrum of students, faculty, and staff to explore their ideas about the specific issues and concerns that the Task Force should address,” Pollack stated while announcing the task force. “These conversations have highlighted the need for us to openly address issues of bigotry and racism, and to examine with focused intent, whether Cornell has in place the right systems of support, standards of conduct for our community, and resources and training to build the kind of inclusive and respectful university we want to be.”

[RELATED: Cornell student gov demands ‘repercussions’ for ‘hate speech’]

However, at least some students, including James (who did not wish to disclose his last name), do not think the current push for diversity will help with the campus climate.

“I value the competence and professional skills of my professors above all else,” he stated. “Any enforced diversity wouldn’t be real diversity.”

Campus Reform reached out to both Kotlikoff and Cornell’s media relations department for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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