Hamilton College has a diversity problem–though it’s not what you think.
The college has created a sizable bureaucratic apparatus to enforce its particular brand of “inclusiveness.” The apparatus has grown so vast and intertwined over the years that the college had to establish a “Diversity Coordinating Council” comprised of the Chief Diversity Officer, the Director of Opportunity Programs and Pathways, the Director of Diversity Recruitment, the Director of the Diversity and Social Justice Project, the Director of the aforementioned Days-Massolo Center, the Associate Dean of Students for Multicultural Affairs, among others.
Despite all of this, Hamilton seemingly cannot explain what it means by “diversity.” This became clear when I tried to bring the right-leaning theorist Kenneth Minogue to campus. After unsuccessfully lobbying some members of Hamilton’s administration for funding, I set up a meeting with President Joan Hinde Stewart. Not only did she claim to not have funds at her disposal (not even enough for a small, symbolic gesture), she went so far as to say she couldn’t see a problem with intellectual diversity on campus, despite the fact that our student center has only sponsored one right-of-center speaker since its inception in 2011.
In that same meeting, I asked President Stewart how she defined diversity. She looked at me blankly. Even after I pressed her further for an answer, she simply turned my questions around on me. At no point during our thirty minute discussion did President Stewart even attempt to feign interest in intellectual diversity. I walked out of her office amazed by how worthless our discussion had been.
Hamilton’s intellectual climate is deficient thanks to its administration, not its student body. The handful of officials at the top may be blind to the problem, but students are recognizing it in greater numbers every year. Indeed, the Student Assembly ultimately agreed to fully fund Dr. Minogue’s lecture. Additionally, the student newspaper asked me to write a piece about the lack of ideological diversity among the speakers Hamilton invites.
Students should not be the only champions of ideological diversity. At Hamilton and around the country, however, that’s unlikely to change any time soon.