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This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Inclusivity and the legitimacy of class privilege

I've said before that the way academics talk about inclusion feels like a desperate bid for legitimacy.  The Chronicle has a review of a book about the switch to co-education in the Ivy League, and while I don't have time to summarize the entire review (and even if I had the time I wouldn't summarize it; I'd rather read the whole book than summarize a review) I think this line is worth quoting:
Skillful presidents and wardens, she argues, managed to convince skeptical alumni that their all-male alma maters must admit women or forfeit their elite status. Coeducation was necessary to shore up class privilege.
This is consistent with things I've noted in other contexts.  Interestingly, it's not just the elites that see diversity as the guarantor of legitimacy; people in non-elite educational institutions talk about their diversity as a way of deflecting questions about whether they are providing a meaningful educational experience for their students.  Personally, I think that the disadvantaged need their education to be even better, but what do I know?

To be clear, I think that going coed has been a hugely positive thing for higher education, and diversity and inclusion (when honestly pursued, rather than pursued cosmetically for the purpose of feeling good about one's own benevolence) are great things.  However, I think it's also clear that these things get viewed through the lens of preserving one's own status rather than sincere care for others.

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