Citizen Sviggum, a rebel of our time

It has become abundantly clear that there is “too much diversity” at the University of Minnesota.

Oh, relax. I don’t mean there’s too much diversity on Morris’s U campus – or any other campus. All Minnesotans who know what’s good for them have recently learned not to let such a criminal thought cross their minds.

No, I mean there is, or has been, too much diversity for many tastes within the Board of Regents. Too much ideological diversity, that is, more diversity of opinion than today’s advanced thinkers are comfortable with.

But he apparently won’t be around for long.

You know the story. As related in the Star Tribune account last week:

“University of Minnesota Regent Steve Sviggum resigned on Tuesday as vice chairman of the board of trustees that oversees the statewide system amid growing outrage over… comments he made nearly two weeks ago at a town hall meeting.Discussing the decline in enrollment on the Morris campus, Sviggum asked Acting Chancellor Janet Schrunk Ericksen if, on a Marketing-wise, the campus was “too diverse.”

When, days later, Sviggum apologized “unequivocally,” you knew he was done for.

A leader of a coalition of American Indian groups said, “We don’t get excuses these days…”.

We’re better than that, it seems.

It should be noted that the Board of Regents struggled to entertain more than one point of view, let alone impolitic issues, for some time – as evidenced by the banishment of former Regent Michael Hsu, the last year.

It’s not hard to see how Sviggum’s forbidden thought could have happened to the Republican former Speaker of the Minnesota House – even outside of several letters he says he received from parents uncomfortable with the level of racial diversity on the Morris campus.

According to data from U, the Morris campus has seen enrollment drop every year for a decade, dropping 45% overall. That’s not a sustainable trajectory, even in government, and it’s a drop more than twice as steep as the 19% drop at the Crookston campus over the same period — more than three times the drop in 14% in Duluth.

White enrollment in Morris has fallen 55% in 10 years, while other national racial groups have changed only modestly, except for Native American enrollment, which has jumped 31% since 2011 .

Other outdoor campuses have seen less striking racial patterns in their enrollment changes. Although black enrollment in Duluth has more than doubled in 10 years, white enrollment there has dropped much less than half as fast as in Morris, at 23%. In Crookston, white registrations have fallen just 3% in a decade (but the data there is noisy, with large “unknown” registrations).

Anyway, there seems to be Something distinction underway with declining enrollment at Morris, and a uniquely diverse student body seems another hard-to-miss distinction.

If we did not know that it is a taboo, a crime of dismissal, even to consider the possibility that some people, however reckless they may be, do not find ever greater diversity, more diversity than what they are accustomed, to be a big attraction – well, in this case, “from a marketing perspective”, the question posed by Sviggum seems within the vast confines of an unfettered investigation in the “search for truth ” that one would think the University of Minnesota represents.

Interestingly, many of Sviggum’s critics don’t really deny that he’s onto something suggesting that white “discomfort” with growing diversity is inspiring the drop in signups. They simply call this malaise “racism” and declare victory.

But as a solution to the “marketing” problem, how does it work? As a sales pitch, “Seek your education at M-Morris University!” If you don’t, you are a racist! seems a little flimsy.

Either way, endorsing the pursuit of facts, whether we like them or not, isn’t just a criminal thought these days, it’s an old thought – it’s Enlightenment, not a thought” enlightened” – and not just at the U. This is revealed in an essay published this month, coincidentally, by a U.

“A policy of willful ignorance has corrupted the best Western scientific institutions,” writes James Lee, a behavioral geneticist at U, in the Oct. 19 edition of the City Journal, a publication of the Manhattan Institute.

In “Don’t even go there”, (brought to my attention on the always splendid Marginal Revolution blog), Professor Lee protests that “it has been an open secret for years that the prestigious [national] journals will often reject submissions that offend mainstream political orthodoxies – especially if they involve controversial aspects of human biology and behavior – regardless of the scientific quality of the work.”

Now, says Lee, American geneticists face “a more drastic form of censorship: denial of access to data needed to perform analyses…The National Institutes of Health now denies access to a database of important data if they think a scientist’s research may be wandering into forbidden territory.”

It seems that Lee’s work on “the relationships between intelligence, education, and health outcomes” sometimes strayed into “forbidden” ground by examining the “genetic basis” of various traits and outcomes – a potentially “stigmatizing” type of investigation in the NIH fashionable study. new outlook.

Sviggum’s issues and Lee’s frustrations are different in many ways. But one can detect what we might call a common genetic basis – a powerful, resurgent, almost medieval instinct among American ideological factions (in these cases, the fashionable progressive elites) to banish, silence and anathematize all ideas, realities or even issues that threaten their lives. dogmas.

Righteous intolerance is a frighteningly powerful force, but Lee optimistically believes that institutions that have recently fallen under its thumb may ultimately fall victim to it.

“The NIH has historically enjoyed a high level of public trust in its professionalism and integrity,” Lee writes, in words that could also apply to other long-respected organizations. “That trust is deteriorating now.”

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