Apr

2

PrezBo and Coatsworth Announce $30 Million Plan To Diversify Faculty

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A couple of minutes ago, Columbians opened their inboxes to the announcement by our dear PrezBo that the University will be spending $30 million to recruit women and underrepresented minorities to the faculty. His e-mail, in full:

Dear Fellow Members of the Columbia Community:

The experience of being on the Columbia campus makes clear that a diverse university community is essential to achieving academic excellence.  Indeed, fostering the uninhibited exploration of competing ideas and beliefs—expressed by people of different backgrounds and perspectives—makes possible the distinct brand of scholarship, learning, research, and public service that are Columbia’s reason for being.  

We can be proud that we have achieved notable success in building a student body that is one of the most diverse, both culturally and socio-economically, among the nation’s great universities.  Yet all who are familiar with the University’s commitment to opening doors to those who have been underrepresented in American higher education, and our nation’s more uneven history of pursuing the same goal, appreciate that building a diverse university community is not the work of a moment or only of admissions offices.  It requires a sustained effort and the attention of us all.

In recent years we have devoted increased attention to the challenge of enhancing the diversity of our faculty.  Today we announce a significant expansion of these ongoing efforts through a $30 million commitment to the recruitment and support of outstanding female and underrepresented minority scholars.  Recognizing that enhancing diversity is a core academic responsibility, we asked the deans to lead this process for their schools.  Their work was supported by the Provost’s Office of Academic Planning, directed by Vice Provost Andrew Davidson.  The result has been the creation of three-year plans, responsive to each school’s distinct priorities and needs.  The plans address key points of the faculty career cycle, with specific strategies for achieving the diversity goals of each of our schools.  

Employing this flexible, collaborative framework, Columbia is poised for new investments in the recruitment of outstanding faculty and postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented groups to more closely reflect the composition of the national pool of qualified candidates; and a small-grants program for junior faculty designed to contribute to their career success.  In addition, we will provide some support for enriching the pipeline leading to faculty appointments with the goal of enhancing the participation of pre-doctoral and Ph.D. students from underrepresented groups.  

The expansion of these activities across our campuses reflects a shared financial commitment, with $15 million from the University’s central budget matched by contributions from the individual schools, resulting in the total of $30 million to meet the costs of this effort.  The sizeable dedication of resources comes with an insistence on accountability and achieving measurable movement toward our goals.  The Provost will be appointing an advisory committee of senior faculty to help guide this process.  The Provost’s Office of Academic Planning will work with schools to design and implement mentoring and professional development programs for junior faculty; create training materials for search committees; and exchange information on best practices.  In the coming weeks, the Provost’s Office will be working with the deans on plan implementation.  

The announcement we make today builds on recent successful efforts, led by former Vice Provosts Jean Howard and Geraldine Downey, including a diversity initiative focused on the recruitment of Arts & Sciences faculty and one supporting fellowships for junior faculty at Columbia’s professional schools.  Under the leadership of Vice Provost Andrew Davidson, our focus now turns to working to enhance faculty diversity at all of Columbia’s schools and to employing the considerable resources that have been made available as efficiently and effectively as possible to achieve this goal.   

With the help of the many deans, faculty members, alumni, and administrators dedicated to this important endeavor, we look forward to this next phase in our efforts to expand and strengthen Columbia’s unique academic community.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger, President

John H. Coatsworth, Provost

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92 Comments

  1. Anonymous  

    Great, more institutionalized racism from President Bollinger. Just go ahead and spend all my tuition on hiring diversity. I really benefit!

  2. Anonymous

    bwog, stop calling him our "dear" prezbo...because he really does give a shit about undergrads.

  3. Anonymous  

    Does no one understand that when an institution begins to embrace too much diversity (and I use this term to mean ALL diversity - race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, nationality, religion, age, weight - there are dozens more beyond the popular "race, gender, and economic status" trifecta) , it suffers from a lack of identity and cohesion. This is certainly a problem with Columbia undergraduates - there is really little semblance of a cohesive community on campus, mainly because, we are all so radically diverse. We've gone too far in one direction - aiming for diversity should be a goal, but not when it comes at the expense of community and identity. At that point, there will actually be more internal strife and division, and you will have then accomplished exactly the opposite of what you hoped to accomplish by increasing the diversity of the student and faculty bodies in the first place. Excessive diversity also hinders students from sharing opinions and creates an ethos of over-sensitiveness and an assumption that others will take your well-intentioned, constructive comments as personal attacks. Excessive diversity can breed mistrust, as well, which again leads to division, which we certainly see on campus. Yes, diversity brings benefits, but at some point, any aspect that is tweaked brings about hidden and long-term costs that outweigh the benefits.

    • That's just embarrassing  

      It's sickening to see privileged, white Columbia students complaining that too much diversity hurts them. The idea that "some diversity is OK, but not too much" assumes that the default is an all-white university and adding too many minorities hurts the community because then white kids can't "share opinions" and "constructive comments." I'm sorry, but that's a profoundly fucking racist idea!

      If people are calling your "well-intentioned, constructive comments" racist, the problem isn't that Columbia's admitting too many nonwhites; the problem is that your comments are racist!

      Making Columbia lily-white or only accepting a few minorities so they don't get too uppity isn't the solution. The solution is for you to understand that the privileges and perspectives you have by virtue of being white aren't universal.

      • Do you want to talk about embarrassing?  

        Please do NOT play the victim racist card. As a Mexican American frosh who believes in the power of diversity, I have seen that we get NOWHERE when people accuse others of simply being racist when they criticize funding or efforts to diversify. Have you thought that maybe the commentator is Latino or African American or Native American? Do you know for a fact that he or she is "white, privileged" and that he or she wants "an all white-university"? Please, STOP. He or she was making a well-developed argument that I believe can be a problem on this campus. I don't believe that diversity in terms of racial, ethnic, religious, and lifestyle can really lead to division, but when interests and research focuses become to diverse, don't you think resources can run scarce? How can you have a mission or a certain focus in a student body if the goal is to have multiple directions?

        You are taking it to another level saying that he is just attacking racial diversity. He or she said RADICALLY, not RACIALLY. As a minority student, one thing I don't want is to be a victim or pity for the fact I don't have what you call "the privileges and perspectives...of being white". Please, just STOP.

        • SMH  

          As another "Mexican American frosh," it's embarrassing to see such internalized racism. The fact that you would ever accuse a minority of using the "victim racist card" is hard to stomach. You embarrass me, for real.

          Wake the fuck up.

          • Anon  

            As a non-minority student who doesn't have the need to _be a minority_ to understand the issues here, I say you go fuck yourself. Who are you to say people are just internalized racists because they don't agree with your fucking theories? The whole discourse about minorities is not just one of asking for affirmative action and initiatives as this one. There is a sizable portion of minorities that recognize the harm caused by all of these policies.

          • Anonymous  

            “If you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid” is always a legitimate argument.

        • Stereotypical Racist

          Jose! What are you doing? I pay you $20 a week to mow my damn lawn, not make well-reasoned statements about the state of society. I'm going to have to tell Border Patrol about your alien status...

          Didn't know you could speak articulate English either, all you ever used to say to me was Mexican or Spanish phrases (they're exactly the same right?).

          And are you related to that Mexican chick? If so, hook me up, Mexican girls are bangin" hot! Leave me her number at the sundial and I'll pay you handsomely in beans, tortillas, and mariachi music.

          Am I as funny as racist comedians yet? Eh, who cares what you think Jose, your name's just a hispanic bastardization of "Joe's." Probably the coffee can that your mom kept her life savings in.

          • Did you really just type that?  

            Though you were trying to be funny to prove a point, that was just unnecessary. Never in my life did I think anyone would post a comment like this on this blog, even in jest. Unbelievable.

        • blackccalum

          "I don’t believe that diversity in terms of racial, ethnic, religious, and lifestyle can really lead to division, but when interests and research focuses become to diverse, don’t you think resources can run scarce?"

          The whole point is to provide millions of dollars to make diverse research happen without having to take funding from other researchers.

          • Same Mex Am frosh  

            Yeah, I have to retract that part of the statement. After reading that today, I realized that what you said is correct. We should promote diversity in terms of opinions, viewpoints, backgrounds, and ideas because that does lead to a rich environment of learning and growing. I just feel that commentator to whom I responded was taking the wrong things out of the original commentator and was misconstruing them into an attack on racial diversity. I just felt he or she was making far too many assumptions of the original commentator and was not focusing on the important issue of division on this campus, an issue we see too recently and closely even in the Obamanard event. Again, thank you for pointing out that flaw, and I am sorry I did not correct it sooner.

        • hmm  

          to Mexican American Frosh:

          You have seen it go nowhere because you are a freshmen. but trust me shit will get real. do us a favor though and don't try and rep la raza. it's just kinda sad when an uncle tom does it.

          -Mexican American Senior.

      • All this is doing

        is proving the stereotype that Latins are hot-tempered, volatile, and impulsive.

    • Sounds like...

      I think the KKK feels the same way.

  4. Anonymous  

    I have no problem with diversity. The problem is devoting $30MM for it. He doesn't really point out what these "new investments" are (other than the small-grants program). I don't understand why looking to hire more diverse people costs more than hiring white males. doesn't make sense.

  5. Anonymous

    Why not use that money to cut tuition so we can have more diversity in the student body?

    • Because

      Short answer: it's too little.

      There are 4,200 students in the College and 1,500 in SEAS, so 5,700 in total. "Net" tuition (sticker price less financial aid) is around $30,000 per person, so Columbia gets $171 million from tuition revenue per year.

      Now, this $30 million is $30 million flat, not $30 million per year, so in order for it to last into perpetuity (because it doesn't make sense for a one-year tuition dip if your goal is to create long-term diversity), you have to treat it as an endowment, and thus only spend 5% of it, or $1.5 million per year, while investing the rest.

      So, out of Columbia's $171 million in annual undergraduate tuition revenue, taking out $1.5 million, would lower tuition by around 0.88%. Put another way, the $30,000 "net tuition" would be lowered to $29,737, a savings of around $263 per year. It's nice and I'm sure every dollar counts, but its too small a financial impact to help you increase socioeconomic diversity in the student body.

      • ...  

        there are 1200 in the school of general studies which has roughly $22mm in financial aid endowment. $30mm would more than double the available funds for financial aid spend, which would make general studies (which is one of the more diverse programs at columbia) something other than the biggest ripoff in higher education.

        all they need to do with respect to enhancing diversity and the representation of women amongst the faculty is introduce extra allowances in the tenure clock for females contemplating motherhood and sell the faculty in general on the idea of diversity based recruiting. both of these cost nothing.

        but hey, it's columbia. ineptitude all the way up. if something is broken, mindlessly throw money at it, right?

        • Well

          You raise a good point, but there are already allowances in the tenure clock for female faculty:

          columbia.edu/cu/vpaa/handbook/instruction.html

          "Under Section §71c(2) of the University Statutes, the Provost may stop the tenure clock of nontenured faculty if they assume the primary responsibility for the care of a child less than a year old, even if they do not take a leave of absence for that purpose or participate in the University’s workload relief program. (See “Leaves of Absence,” below.) An officer is considered the “primary parent” if she or he is a single parent or, where there are two parents, if the other is working full-time or is enrolled as a full-time student. Faculty may employ a day-care provider and still qualify for this exclusion. When both parents work at the University, only one may be considered primary at any given time."

          "Faculty may have the tenure clock stopped in this manner for up to one year of appointment for each of two children. To be eligible for an exclusion under these provisions, officers of instruction must be the primary parent for a minimum of three months. If they take a child care leave or participate in the parental workload relief program, the maximum time that can be excluded from the tenure count for any combination of those options and these statutory provisions is one year for each child."

      • GS Nationalist  

        Here's one small step you can take to increasing (socioeconomic!) diversity on campus...never refer to two undergrad schools when Columbia actually has three.

        Shit, imagine what $30m would do for GS? CC is 15% black. GS is 4% black. So that's several hundred blacks (not to mention other minorities) who couldn't afford to attend. This is no surprise to PrezBo...if memory serves, in Grutter v. PrezBo 15%-3% was roughly the split between black admission rates at UMich Law if it could continue to be color-aware or not.

        PrezBo and his private schooled CC ilk will work to eradicate discrimination against middle and upper class kids, but heaven forbid you even acknowledge the existence of poor minorities on campus who actually had to scrape together a "non-traditional" life to attend. At least we're not allowed to swipe into your dorms, eh?

  6. Anonymous  

    do you actually know what "institutional racism" is?

  7. Anonymous

    Dear Prezbo,

    Go fuck yourself.

    Sincerely,

    Every Columbia Undergraduate Student.

  8. Anonymous

    Can't wait for the CUCR protest!

  9. BB

    If potential faculty are competent, regardless of race/ethnicity, they will be found without throwing 30 million bucks at a non-existent problem.

  10. Anonymous  

    Here's a revolutionary idea: how about instead having "diversity" as a qualifier for hiring educators, you use standards like "competency," "expertise," "accomplishment," "past performance" and "education?"

    This is such feel-good bullshit intended to correct this boogeyman of spurious "institutional racism." It will not improve the education of Columbia students, nor will it cause the clouds to part allowing Heaven's rays of minority forgiveness to shine down on the administrators and students who kneel before the altar of political correctness gnashing their teeth, beating their breasts, and pouring out their "Mea Culpas" before the idol of White Male Guilt.

  11. Anonymous  

    Here's some food for thought - how bout instead of hiring based on the hue of one's flesh, we emphasize *actual* competence and hire based on skill instead! Ludicrous concept, isn't it? I don't know about you, but when I am looking for a mechanic to fix my car, I certainly don't go out of my way to find the most mexican of the bunch - I find the most competent. Affirmative action is not only racist but also just plain disgusting when its used to justify singling out the most ethnically-interesting on the arbitrary basis of background. Even worse, affirmative action hiring is inherently inefficient and amplifies our already absurdly, bloated racial self-conciousness. That is to say, affirmative action instills a divisive sense of group preference that pins one faction against another. Fact of the matter is Lee Bollinger is a fool and so are the rest of the lot of you overly politically-correct, snobbish cretins.

    • I have some time to spare so I'm going to  

      I have some time to spare so I'm going to write this thought out.

      "...arbitrary basis of background" : As if the particular socioeconomic status and geopolitical states in which 7+ billion people have been born into is simply 'arbitrary.' NO. Taken a history class lately? Read about imperialism and colonialism? The Atlantic Slave Trade under the emerging logics of industrial capitalism? The unwelcome occupation of territories and cruel exploitation of bodies in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Global South to service the growing 'Western' market industries of tea, coffee, sugar, gold, oil, etc.? Then let's see... WWI and WWII... the global imminence of American capitalist and cultural production... the structural formation of a 'modern' American middle-class and the birth of its self-evident values of hard-work, college, and success...

      I'm not trying to be patronizing to non-history majors, but yes, some people --far more numbers in today's industrial world, far more in upper middle-class America-- draw the better straw and happily follow the desirable paths to success made available and accessible to them from the day they were born. If your American parents (and grandparents as well) were 'successful' in their generation, they were most likely able to provide much more to the lives of their offspring: a house, toys, clothes, food, pre-k education, primary and secondary education (perhaps in an expensive private school), family time in the evenings and afternoons, community sports teams, trainers, tutors, childhood friendships in gated communities, family vacations all over the country and world, car rides home from after-school clubs, SAT classes, volunteer tourism programs, sweet sixteen parties, all those things that money can buy, etc. Your parents, or someone in your life, had the best intentions in mind for you, and they provided all that they could to get you to be 'competent' enough to be a student at a prestigious university.

      If this description resembles your childhood, it sounds quite idyllic and enriching. But the great MAJORITY, however, have had to confront much more rigorous obstacles to get access to basic housing, education, food, clothes, physical and psychological health ---many of the luxuries experienced in your upbringing that you take for granted as simply part of an 'arbitrary' background. The term 'institutional racism' is a system of inequality based around the historical concept of 'race.' Race as a notion once explicitly structured laws and policies, but endures today especially dominant in media culture and popular stereotypes. Black males are twice as likely as white males to drop out of school and end up in jail ---did they just ALL make the 'wrong' decisions in life? Or did they have fewer alternatives from their 'arbitrary backgrounds' as racialized subjects in low-income neighborhoods and communities, trapped in generations-long cycles of poverty and obscured by negative representations in the national-collective imagination?

      While your parents perhaps kept a keen eye on your toy playing, food consumption, and homework time, the parents of the majority were generally too busy working (to pay for food! rent! clothes! basic needs!) rather than idealistically focusing on the cognitive, emotional, and physical developments of their child. While you might have been spending your summers paying money to live for a week 'volunteering' in and learning about other parts of the world with a for-profit service program, many of your same-aged peers born in less privileged families were working during the summer to make money to survive. While your parents paid how many hundreds of dollars to fill your bookshelf with books or ordered a private trainer, tutor, or college guidance counselor to enrich your knowledge and secure future success, others unlike you did not have the same financial or social access to your privileges.

      This description of structural inequalities is even more potent when you consider the constraints on female gendered subjects in other nation-states around the world. Even if the marker of gender is itself arbitrary, the role that gender actually plays in society is not simply arbitrary --it determines how a human being is raised, educated, socialized, and even treated under the state law. Perhaps we imagine that we live in a post-feminist world where gender inequality is absent in American society, but its traces are still apparent in the gender gaps of job salaries and high school performances in mathematics and sciences. Not to mention the conventional misogyny and sexism prevalent in popular discourses and representations, where women are still portrayed as pure objects for the heterosexual male's desire and gaze (Hollywood, I'm talking to you).

      However, when women and underrepresented minorities from this resource-limited, 'arbitrary' background show interest, curiosity, self-initiative, and passion for learning, and then demonstrate this self-drive by pursuing their own paths of knowledge, it would be in our society's best interest to recognize and invest in their potential ---especially when they represent a great majority of the national demographic who are not born in privilege. The email states that the investment is for "the recruitment of outstanding faculty and postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented groups to more closely reflect the composition of the national pool of qualified candidates." If you think you actually DESERVED all the money, time, and effort that went into the making of your 'arbitrary' privileged life, into the making of a successful generation of offspring for your family, then of course you would be confused about this news. Why would Columbia University want to invest $30 million for a few hard-working underrepresented minorities, whose 'unprivileged' background reflect the same conditions experienced by the national majority and whose stories of success could be a motivational catalyst for future generations of today's underrepresented minorities? BIs this so hard to understand?

      I don't even want to touch the argument about how 'diversity hurts the community,' but I will. UM HELLO, HAVE YOU WALKED OUT INTO THE WORLD? DO YOU SEE HOW DIVERSE IT IS? The trees, the flowers, people, fish, cats, dogs, etc. ---the world as a whole ecological community is characterized by diversity and the spectrum of interrelations between discernible, scaled units of difference. Perhaps it appears as if there is little semblance of a cohesive community on campus because not everyone defines themselves by their Columbia identity (an identification with intellectual prestige, intellectual elitism, or whatever), which you believe others should privilege over cultural, ethnic, sexual, religious, or political identities that they may already hold from their 'arbitrary background.' Are you imagining Columbia's campus to look more like Nazi Germany? 'Because, uh, news check: communities cannot simply form and thrive around ONE stable marker of 'identity,' without excluding others who fall out of the criteria. Maybe you thought undergraduate admissions had already done that work of exclusion for you. But first and foremost, people have to come together and recognize each other, setting aside individual differences in order to cooperate as members of a community with a shared goal. Prejudices against (or perhaps, ignorance of) difference --not diversity itself-- hinder the development of a cohesive community.


      Done! Writing this comment only took away 45 minutes of my life, but I've been getting really frustrated by these ignorant and entitled Bwog comments, so I thought I'd offer a long comment for future consideration....

      • Anonymous  

        I'd like to point out that if were going to discuss how the absence of affirmative action implies we must be 'imagining Columbia’s campus to look more like Nazi Germany,' why not broach the subject of the Jews! Thank you for the perfect segue into a counterexample to allow me to deflate your spurious argument like it was the Hindenburg.

        Sure, it must suck that your grandparents grandparents were slaves 200 years ago. Jews can relate to a history of continued enslavement spanning approx 2000 years. But hey, at least they didn't exterminate 6.5 million of your cousins, brothers, sisters, parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents...

        So yes, I do concede black people have and had it bad. God knows they remind us whities every minute of our "priviliged" existence. Although, it's quite peculiar that I never could quite recall enslaving a single black person, myself. Nonetheless, the Jewish people stand in stark contrast to your spurious argument - despite the most extreme persecution, Jewish people overcame enormous misfortune WITHOUT affirmative action. And they did it exceedingly well.

        In fact, Jews - who comprise the vast majority of nobel prize winners, CEOs and billionaires - succeeded in the face of ACTUAL institutionalized inequality (ie Ivy-League Jewish quotas). This small ethnic demography emphasized work ethic and personal accountability rather than whine about anti-semitism and flounder in self-pity. Whereas minorities today reap all the benefits of Affirmative Action and still fail, Jews surmounted hurdle after hurdle without once "blaming the system"

        For example - what did the Jews do when they were barred from Investment Banks on the grounds of their ethnic background? They started Goldman Sachs - the most profitable and prestigious investment bank on the face of the earth.

        Point is that especially given the fact that minorities today have every advantage in the world, there is no reason to displace personal accountability on a "flawed system." Stop whining and pleading helplessness. You'll have no sympathy from me.

        Signed,
        Impoverished yet Privileged Appalachian White Male

        • Anonymous  

          "I’d like to point out that if we're going to discuss how the absence of affirmative action implies we must be ‘imagining Columbia’s campus to look more like Nazi Germany'"---> woah woah woah... not what I said at all. One poster complained that there is little cohesive community on Columbia because there is an extreme amount of demographic diversity. That is a flawed and dangerous understanding about how communities should function, as if Columbia somehow needs to limit diversity in order to create a more solid and stable collective identity. I referred to the political structure in Nationalist Socialist Germany as one model where leaders implemented such prejudiced ideas in the hopes of producing a particular kind of social cohesion, resulting in genocide. I apologize if this comment offended anyone, but I tried to demonstrate an example of how this type of thinking is incredibly misleading.

          "So yes, I do concede black people have and had it bad. God knows they remind us whities every minute of our “priviliged” existence. Although, it’s quite peculiar that I never could quite recall enslaving a single black person, myself.” ---> You spelled 'privileged' wrong, alright, I'll ignore that. But no, other people's sufferings are not there to remind you of your privileged existence. That's called narcissism. The lives of those less fortunate than you should direct you to think more critically about their socioeconomic position, limited by social and structural constraints within a modern industrial system. This system did not exist 2,000 years ago, when yes, Jews were enslaved, but slavery represented a common institution of centralized power in almost every continent. Only with the nineteenth century Atlantic Slave Trade did the selling and buying of bodies become part of a global capitalist exchange, built on the exploitation of land, labor, and resources. That is not the same thing as 'Jewish enslavement' in the B.C. era and it is erroneous to use the term slavery as an ahistorical concept without considering the structural context in which a particular iteration of the institution of slavery developed.

          "Point is that especially given the fact that minorities today have every advantage in the world, there is no reason to displace personal accountability on a “flawed system." --> Where are you getting these numbers that minorities today have every advantage in the world? Even if this were remotely true, can you really place FULL personal accountability on your success without acknowledging your relative accessibility to a fortunate life, given the money, energy, and support 0f your parents to secure your future of success at a young age? Affirmative action does not displace personal accountability, but recognizes historically marginalized communities that have not and do not have the same access to this privileges.

        • "Vast majority of nobel prizes"  

          Come on. Seriously? People with *partial* Jewish decent don't even have a mere *majority* of nobel prizes in *any* of the categories. How in the hell does that translate to a *vast* majority of *all* prizes?

          • Anonymous  

            I'm Jewish, and I'll definitely admit that 'vast majority' is a big stretch. Jews have won around 20-25% of the Nobel Prizes, but the issue is complicated by how you define "Who is a Jew?" Wikipedia has a decent summary of this debate, which is itself one that stretches far back into history.

        • Anonymous  

          Are you serious? Do you realize you are arguing that an inherent quality among Jews has allowed them to succeed and an inherent quality among African Americans causes them to fail? You don’t have any problems with that? You don’t think there are plenty of black and brown people out there “emphasizing work ethic”? i can't tackled every racist tidbit but here are a few:

          1. “…personal accountability rather than whine… and flounder in self pity”
          Americans are fed the American Dream and the idea of a meritocracy, that we alone are responsible for our success. Bullshit. Have you ever thought about what a large percentage of our student body comes from a handful of areas around the country (Westchester, the Bay Area, select counties in MA, CT, NJ etc)? Do you really think it’s because they are harder working and more intelligent than other Americans? If so, do you think it’s something in their water that makes them better than everyone else? Don’t you find it strange that almost 50% of the student body attended private high schools when something like 2% of Americans attend private schools?
          I attended a private school and am under no false pretense that I earned that. I am fortunate my parents could afford the tuition (and when they couldn’t, they still had the social capital necessary to secure the resources – a scholarship to pay for my education)
          Have you heard of housing discrimination? It contributes to residential segregation and because public schools are funded in part by property taxes and for decades, nonwhites often have terrible public schools as their only option. For much of the student body, a good neighborhood public school was available to them even if they chose to pay for a private education. (that is an immense privilege)
          **It doesn’t take away from any of our accomplishments to acknowledge how incredibly fortunate we are. From there it is much easier to pick out how race and class play into our success.

          2. You never owned slaves? Want a cookie, or better yet a Nobel Prize? Here’s a little lesson on cumulative gains. Just like compound interest, it seriously adds up. We’ll back it up, not to slavery, but almost 100 years later to the end of WWI. Starting in the 1930 but particularly after WWI suburban communities began popping up everywhere. Let’s pretend a house was $10,000 but here’s the catch, it was $10,000 if the neighborhood remained all white (these practices were called redlining –look it up). Let’s say the Jones’ bought a home for that price, raised a family and lived in the home for 50 years. Upon retirement their home was worth $250,000! What an investment, they can retire with peace of mind, they had the means to support their children through college and even a bit extra to help pay for their grandchild’s college tuition. Now let’s a say another family (we’ll called them the Jones’) was African American. They bought a house in a similar neighborhood for $10,000 because that was what it was worth until they set foot in the place. The second they moved in the house was worth $9,000. Other families on the street began to flee because how could they stay and lose their investment. They wouldn’t even have to be racist to flee! Well, the lack of demand for those homes made the value plummet to $5,000 but don’t worry the Jones’ are still paying for $10,000 house. Now the houses are available to people who can afford a $5,000 but that does not mean they can afford the upkeep of a house the size of a $10,000. Fast forward: the community falls into decay and when the Jones’ retire their house is worth $70,000 (if it hasn’t been razed to make room for a golf course or Manhattanville…)
          Unfortunately they didn’t have the money to send their children to college and because public schools are funded by property taxes, their children’s school was so terrible, no one from that high school had been to college in decades. Some how their grandchildren beat the odds and got into Columbia. Unfortunately, they can’t afford to pay for some of their tuition or give them spending money so they can focus entirely on school and not have to work.
          So congrats, you didn’t own slaves, but that does not mean the affects of slavery ended with the civil war, it does not mean the Civil Rights Act magically remedied the problem.

          *Also, maybe both families are named 'Jones' because at one point the ancestors of the white Jones’ owned the ancestors of the black Jones’… (where else would the black Jones’ have gotten that last name?)

          3. Yes the system is flawed. That’s way it’s called racism and not prejudice. It’s about systemic problems built into society that prevent certain groups from equal access to resources. Black people don’t struggle because prejudiced people dislike them, they struggle because prejudiced people made and maintain laws (housing policies, public education funding policies) that stifle them. The system is to blame that's why policies like this one need to be made to try and combat the effect systemic problems. It would be a lot less daunting to just blame racists.

          4. There are more qualified black and brown students than qualified white male students from the Appalachian region of the US? Wait, what? Affirmative action isn’t only for black people!? You and your ignorance add diversity to our campus (they could have found a New England prep schooler “smarter” than you to fill that spot)! *By smarter I mean, had access to more quality resources like SAT tutoring, a school with a great reputation, and surrounded by a culture where academic success has proven itself to be useful.

          5. If you really are from Appalachia, then you should know merit has little to do with it. You probably lacked access to resources thrown at some of your peers. You probably had few people direct your every move (extracurricular activities, SAT tutoring, etc) to get you here. The fact that you are here is kind of amazing, if you look at the odds. But don’t think for a second that it’s because of something inherent in you. That’s exciting and all, but most likely, you are just as innately worthy as many of the people you’ve left behind.

          6. “Improverished yet Privilege White Male” that obviously means you don’t know what white privilege is. If it were about socioeconomic status it would be called affluent-white privilege, but its not. White privilege is the assumption that you’re innocent until proven guilty and not vice versa, its that when you where a hoodie you don’t look menacing. It’s the likelihood that when you ask for the manager you’ll be speaking to someone of your own race. When you walk into a classroom you won’t be in the minority and your PROFESSOR will most likely be someone of your own race. White privilege ensures that your cultural norms are seen as the norm, the study of your history is simply called history when all studies are, in fact, “ethnic studies.” White privilege will prevent employers from discriminating against you because of your name. White privilege allows for characters in a fictional book to be white until explicitly proven otherwise. Bandages resemble your skin tone; 'nude' color shoes mean shoes that look like your skin color. White privilege shields underprivileged whites, as you have categorized yourself, from the reality many underprivileged people of color face. Do you have a southern accent? Does it bother you when people assume southerners are dumb? Don’t you think that could potentially hurt your chances in an interview?

          7. How about a dose of humility and a whole lot less racism?


          Signed,
          An Often-Privileged-and-On-Occasion-Discriminated-Against-Appalacian-Raised-First Generation-African-American-Women

          ps: don't you realize for most of Columbia's history it was affirmative action to only let in white men?

      • Anonymous  

        You raise several points, but I will limit my response to just a few.

        First, nobody is calling for a Nazi Germany paradigm - American is largely a land of immigrants seeking opportunity and it is for the better good that we all embrace our relative strengths and weaknesses in a free-market system, instead of proclaiming that the 'absolute strength' is the inclusion into one group (i.e. Aryans). That sort of ideology is not sustainable, because you would eradicate millions of humans each with their own comparative advantage.

        Second, your analogy to nature is flawed. You are right: nature is diverse, extremely diverse. But nature functions according to survival of the fittest, natural selection, and division of labor. There is roughly one organism (or a few, in a symbiotic or commensurate relationship) per niche (per location) - all others would have been eradicated as inferior competitors. So yes, nature is very diverse, but only due to a rather violent and aggressive natural selection paradigm. If you use nature as a model for diversity and incorporate race into the equation, you must also incorporate survival of the fittest, as well. So, your race-minded nature argument would now imply that certain races are more fit for particular roles. Indeed then, some races are prey to others, who are predators? Is this what you wish to suggest?

        Third, I do not think that you really believe in human perseverance. You pity those in dire circumstances. I always try to see the best in people. Maybe it's my family's history, my own family having to overcome violence in our native country. But this is not about me. I can guarantee you that hundreds of students in this University do not fit the "cushy, generations-long privileged" status you assume pervades many University students' upbringings.

        Every family, at one point or another, had to overcome a huge obstacle (ask immigrant families - they'll tell you). But most people only see the final product: a student who came from a nice upbringing - they do not see what went INTO that final product, and if they did, maybe they would not judge so quickly. If they saw how proud his or her parents (and grandparents) are to see that their hard work paid off, they would not judge so harshly.

        I'm not Asian, but just marvel at the fact of an entire generation of Asian immigrants immigrated to America whose children (currently out peers) are excelling greatly and will form a core part of this country's leadership. One generation! Asian-Americans didn't arrive at this country greeted with a red carpet and wads of money. Success stories are out there - it's happening right in front of your very eyes.

        One final idea: maybe, in fact, it is your very help, however well-intentioned, that is causing the institutionalized racism you so rally against. As a final note, consider that white South Africans (who were greatly in favor of the apartheid) heavily supported the implementation of a minimum wage. Yet it's funny how many well-intentioned social engineers who currently wish to help those in poverty in this country actually support increasing the minimum wage. Intervening, as odd as this might sound (it's not actually odd - it's supported by a wealth of economic and social evidence) might actually do more harm than good.

        • Anonymous  

          "So yes, nature is very diverse, but only due to a rather violent and aggressive natural selection paradigm. If you use nature as a model for diversity and incorporate race into the equation, you must also incorporate survival of the fittest, as well." --> ALL WRONG. There is more scientific evidence proving evolution by mutation of alleles FAR MORE than natural selection. And I am not incorporating race/diversity/survival of the fittest rhetoric! So irrelevant! I know, and you should too, that race is a social construct conceived by humans to distinguish differences among one other. Race becomes a social identity in a society which recognizes this visible marker of difference and requires the internalization of the signified difference; race as a historical concept is relevant to discussions about human diversity because other modes of subjectification, like gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class, produce an array of different perspectives and lived realities.

          Third, I do not think that you really believe in human perseverance. --> Ok... you're trying to set up an argument about what you 'think' I don't 'believe' in based on...?

          "Asian-Americans didn’t arrive at this country greeted with a red carpet and wads of money. Success stories are out there – it’s happening right in front of your very eyes." --> Do you know any 'not success stories?' Those don't seem to be so apparent, now do they? Think a little harder...

          "As a final note, consider that white South Africans (who were greatly in favor of the apartheid) heavily supported the implementation of a minimum wage. Yet it’s funny how many well-intentioned social engineers who currently wish to help those in poverty in this country actually support increasing the minimum wage. Intervening, as odd as this might sound (it’s not actually odd – it’s supported by a wealth of economic and social evidence) might actually do more harm than good" ---> Ok, your facts are just straight-up all over the place. Like, what is wrong with wanting to increase the minimum wage? I don't 'support' sustainable development projects of intervention in 'less-developed, less-industrial' regions because I think it imposes the superiority of the ideology of market capitalism. But regardless, what does that have ANYTHING to do with this topic?

          As the commentator said below me, it is "shocking how non-diverse faculty are in higher education. Less than 3% of the professoriate are non-white. Our professors don’t even come close to reflecting our diverse student body, which is just sad." EXACTLY.

          Human diversity is not just about skin color, because skin is not what defines the 'human' -it is the faculty of consciousness! And when we subject an individual to a whole range of social markers and structural limitations, we produce a great diversity of human minds. But it doesn't mean we shouldn't think less critically about social constructs like sex, gender, and race, because they do play a determinant role in subjective lives and objective realities. As ideal as this sounds ---"the value of one’s ideas, one’s merit and competence, integrity and honesty – these are the standards by which we should judge and select our faculty"--- the pool of applicants is already precluded by the operation of historical social constructs in the system.

          I will end my responses here, but yeah.... on campus, let's talk more about diversity and what that actually means to have a cross-fertilization of diverse minds, consciences, backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, ideas, etc... DA RENAISSANCE

          • Anonymous  

            Dude, natural selection IS the process by which randomly mutated alleles are kept in the gene pool. Obviously the generation of mutations is random but the eradication of alleles based on the competitiveness they afford the organism in a particular environment is not. If you are using nature as an example of how wipe spread diversity is in this world, then fine - you are right: nature is diverse. But that doesn't say much - diversity by what means? That is the question. By what paradigm? In what context? Nature's context is very black-and-white and it is based on competency, not on loosely-related questions of appearance (unless appearance leads to competency, as in the case of camouflage).

            Here we go again: the classic race is a social construct. I don't even know what the hell that means anymore because this phrase is use overly-abused. Everything can be a social construct - I am a social construct when taken the extreme (lookin' at you, Buddhism). The point is: what social constructs help us better function and maintain a sustainable society and which are unsustainable? If we take arbitrary (in the cosmic sense) categorization to an extreme, then nobody exists and then society crumbles (language of course is arbitrary, too then).

            The question of Asian American success will be determined in two or so decades - arguing about this is now is pointless. Instead of finding that one Chinese family who is worse off than they were in China, try instead to look at the whole and see if, as a whole, these immigrants (or, more so, their children) have found (or will find) success.

            The minimum wage example is a few steps down the line in the syllogism that I didn't have the time to explain, but it has to do with the attitude that we must help others to succeed when oftentimes, the aid that we give others (however well-intentioned) can cause more harm than good. Minimum wage, for the record, is a well-intentioned idea but a racist idea in practice, precluding low-skilled Black teenagers from entering the work force - before you can climb the socioeconomic ladder, you have to get one foot on it.

            Finally, I agree with you - human diversity does not have to be about skin color unless we make it be that way. I can identify (as can you and everybody) with anything. But certain identities correlate more strongly to the ideals of a particular institution.

            K, I'm done with this debate. Thanks, whoever you are. Me? Thanking you? Yes, I learned something new and streamlined some of my arguments from this little debate (no sarcasm - I really did).

          • Anonymous  

            Everything you just wrote makes no sense, it's like you were literally pulling out random strings of thought from your head and writing them down -- I hope you don't write papers like this!! (i.e. "human diversity does not have to be about skin color unless we make it be that way. I can identify (as can you and everybody) with anything. But certain identities correlate more strongly to the ideals of a particular institution" - What does that even mean... I know you're using WORDS to communicate...something... but like, what are you trying to SAY...)

            But yes, for the sake of the argument, thanks for the thanks and it was a pleasure speaking to you. I'm glad we settled our tensions (much better than the Aaron Burr-Alexander Hamilton, old-school Columbia style, amiright?).

      • ugh

        I wish you had left your name on this comment because it's just so fucking perfect. I want to hug you/talk to you every day.

  12. Anonymous

    Prezbo should give his job to Pena-mora

  13. oh, so columbia

    has a bunch of privileged kids that don't know about the problems of institutional racism. not sayin' prezbo knows any better, but the comments say it all.

    the sad thing: i'm not surprised.

  14. former comp sci guy  

    As a comp sci guy who dropped out of columbia temporarily with 4 other comp sci guys, you know where that 30 million could go assshole? how about not wasting my $7000 in advanced comp sci courses being taught by a barely-english speaking TA? That's right. Some of our advanced courses are paid by people without PhDs or better yet, in the middle of getting their masters. I learned shit in those classes and all my friends would agree.

    Step it the fuck up Columbia before I take up MIT this fall. I don't WANT to. I picked YOU over MIT way back. But I'm not impressed.

  15. Anonymous  

    Because "if you don't agree with me, you're stupid" is always a legitimate argument.

  16. SEAS Kid  

    My professors have been pretty diverse. I had one guy from China, and then a white guy, and then a guy from India, and then a woman from India, and then a white woman, and then another white guy, and a few white Jewish guys, and then another white guy, and another white woman and then another Indian guy...

    too bad most of them seemed to care more about their research than me, and had difficulties articulating simple concepts (even if they spoke perfect English.) But it's ok because affirmative action will fix this problem.

    • Anonymous

      This is misinformed. Hiring international professors is not the same as hiring professors of historically marginalized identities. The University has screwed it up by focusing on the former, no doubt, so here's hoping they get it right by not doing that this time around.

      • SEAS Kid  

        I meant to be sarcastic. Really, I just meant to say there are problems among teaching faculty that aren't being addressed. Instead we get diversity, which I don't think will be helpful in addressing more pressing issues.

  17. Anonymous

    I think that $30 million on reducing diversity among CS professors would be well spent.

  18. hey columbia  

    put a conservative in the administration. that's diversity. better yet, a social conservative! i think columbians hate those even more than affirmative action.

  19. Disgusted  

    I'm so disgusted by this hypocrite of a leader. Shame on him for failing to see the REAL issues. As a GS student who was nearly forced to drop out because of financial aid (not all of us went to the military), I'm in an unbelievable amount of debt despite being a first generation college student from a minority group. I wish the education was at least worth it, but no, I'm being taught by a bunch of ignorant snobs who could give a shit about undergrads, or the grad-students who are miserable and hate teaching. So this Jerk can talk the big talk...To our president: to your 6 million dollar salary (which you so clearly need..HA) along with the 30 million on your BS sentimental diversity facade.. I say UP YOURS!

  20. student who wrote original long comment  

    Aside from the name-calling, I think that it's a good thing that we as students are expressing our concerns about diversity. I do think that many arguments are unfairly labeled as racist when actually, they highlight legitimate concerns regarding the negative effects of a single-track push for increased diversity. No student can be so blinded by idealism to admit that there are NO negative effects to a narrow-minded push for increased diversity. Students react so hot-headily to ANY comment that does not tailor to increased diversity, it can be sickening at times. I think the lash-outs stem from a huge mistrust and a belief that racism MUST be fueling a dissenter's opinions, when, from my experiences speaking to students, that is rarely, if ever, the case. As the previous commentator, whey not hire more socially-conservative professors to increase diversity? It's incredible how the conversation becomes so race-minded, when race is just one aspect of diversity. The value of one's ideas, one's merit and competence, integrity and honesty - these are the standards by which we should judge and select our faculty.

  21. do you guys

    know anything about how shockingly non-diverse faculty are in higher education!!?

    Less than 3% of the professoriate are non-white, and I assume you're more up-to-speed on the problems with women in STEM.

    The point isn't to have an entirely minority-ethnic faculty, its to inch a teeny bit closer to have a faculty that's representative of the total diversity landscape of the professoriate. Which really is VERY small to begin with.

    I'm pretty sure this will amount to hiring 1 (at most) more diverse professors in each department on campus. And in some fields, there probably isn't even anyone to hire.

    I support this. Our professors don't even come close to reflect our diverse student body, which is just sad.

    • Anonymous

      Less than 3%? That just seems wrong on its face. Do you have a link for stats? Or is that an aggregate percentage for higher ed in the entire country, not just at Columbia?

  22. Anon  

    Why are our professors supposed to reflect our diverse student body?

  23. why is it  

    so bad to not have a faculty of old white dudes?

    • CC '12

      Why is it so bad to have a faculty of old white dudes? We are here to learn and it shouldn't matter to anyone whether the professor at the front of the class is white, black, gay, straight, male or female. Recruit the best.

      The people who are against this have nothing against any particular demographic (unlike your "old white dudes" comment). We are against spending money on recruiting that isn't based on merit.

  24. Anonymous

    You are naive to think this is unique to Columbia. Most of the teachers ( and students) at MIT are non-English speaking. Who are you kidding? Most of the undergrad courses at Harvard are large lectures all taught by TA's or grad students. My friends at Harvard don't have one class under 80 students.

  25. Anonymous

    The non-native speakers are those who keep Columbia at the top of ranking list. If you want good English speaking professors, you may join the English Department. Only the international students will be interested in your nice English.

  26. Anon

    This is pretty hilarious. Whoever made the comment about cohesion above, did you ever stop to think that perhaps that stems from the campus location and not the diversity? Most city campuses lack cohesion, regardless of diversity, and most rural campuses do not. You, are definitively a moron.

  27. Chris Silverberg  

    Line of Argument:

    1) Factors of success can be roughly split along lines of nature and nurture.

    2) Underrepresented minorities and women (on average) have as much natural capacity to be excellent professors as their peers, implying that they should be hired at equal rates.

    3) They are underrepresented on faculty throughout the country.

    4) Given that they are not naturally inferior, there must be cultural factors causing this underrepresentation.

    5) Bollinger spending $30mil on recruiting from these pools (white women and underrepresented minorities) addresses several possible cultural factors including: a) bias against female and minority academics, b) lack of role models for young women and minorities considering a career in academia, c) the fact that caucasian males are disproportionately "well connected," allowing them access to training, job offers, etc., d) the (average) socioeconomic disparity between men and women, whites and non-whites; greater socioeconomic status = more opportunities for training, advice, advancement, professor contacts, etc.

    So, since "throwing money at the problem" actually does address quite a few very obvious reasons why female and minority faculty are underrepresented, it doesn't seem like such a bad thing to do. Unless you fundamentally disagree with the idea that employers should actively attempt to address racial and gender disparities. And that seems silly, 'cause employers actively created disparities, so it seems fairly natural that in order to correct the balance, some other employers are going to have to actively fight those disparities.

    Sigh. This post brought to you by: post-rehearsal procrastination.

  28. Anonymous

    This is a fascinating comment thread. I am a white, wealthy fellow Ivy-Leaguer who is aware of how ridiculously privileged I am and how much my privilege puts me ahead in whatever field I choose to go into, academia included. I'm shocked that with all the undoubtedly intelligent, well-educated students at Columbia y'all still have people who think it's reasonable (and socially acceptable) to deny the existence and importance of institutionalized racism, to call "bullshit" on efforts to recruit female and underrepresented-minority faculty, and to insist that recruiting people other than racially-privileged men means compromising on competence. If you are one of the people who wrote one of those posts, your fellow students have done a great job of explaining many of the myriad things that are wrong with those attitudes, so I won't reiterate. However, you should know that you're making your school look bad. Really bad.

    To all the Columbia students who are with it, it's good to know that you exist. You give me faith in the student body of Columbia, and I bet you'd be awesome people to know. Keep fighting the good fight. Even with how aware and articulate and smart you all are, though, given the attitudes of your classmates and their lack of shame about them, I'm really glad I don't go to your school.

  29. Anonymous

    Dear PrezBo,

    I don't give a f*ck who teaches me as long as they teach well, are qualified, and actually care about their students. Sadly, I have had few professors at Columbia who fit this criteria and it hasn't been correlated with race in the slightest. Why don't you at least attempt to fix THAT instead of throwing my hard-earned tuition money at an issue that likely doesn't even need funding?

    Sincerely,
    Minority Columbia Student

  30. Anonymous  

    "Institutional Racism:" Too fucking bad. Get the fuck over it.

    Yes. Get over it.

    Should White America sob a collective moan of guilt and penitence every time someone throws down a race card? Fuck that, and fuck you if you think I'm going to bend my knee to this idol you've made of "diversity."

    Columbia wants diversity? They should take a look at the public schools. Plenty of diversity. What does diversity ultimately amount to? Multi-racial mediocrity.

    Leveling the playing field is one thing, but you don't do it by digging a ditch so that everyone can play beneath the standards that Columbia seems to lower every generation. I've been in classes full of people--Columbia students--who can barely formulate a sentence in English--THEIR NATIVE TONGUE--let alone assemble a coherent thought. I've seen people taking notes in crayon on sheets of borrowed paper.

    You want to add some color to this stupidity? Hey, great. Just don't do it on my dime.

    • Anonymous  

      "You want to add some color to this stupidity? Hey, great. Just don’t do it on my dime." EWWWWWWW you sound like an old gross uncle on an '80s TV shitcom telling his nephew to fuck off and stop wasting his time and money while he's furiously masturbating to his own room posters... okay, dude, you go have fun with yourself...

      No but really, life is not a scripted TV show and you don't have to write like you're in one: "Should White America sob a collective moan of guilt and penitence every time someone throws down a race card? Fuck that, and fuck you if you think I’m going to bend my knee to this idol you’ve made of 'diversity.'" Alright then so don't bend over ok, got it. What else do I need to learn from your banal argument?

      "Columbia wants diversity? They should take a look at the public schools. Plenty of diversity. What does diversity ultimately amount to? [Insert dumbest answer with alliteration here]." Hi, I'm Prezbo from Columbia and I'm looking for more diversity; could I happen to look in your fourth grade classroom and count how many blacks and hispanics there are? Yeah, you see, I'm trying to figure out how I can get more people on staff with different backgrounds and experiences, and um... someone told me public schools are a great place to find them? Ooo, wrong room?

      OK now tiiiiiiimmee for the "I got 99 problems and this is one" showdown, where two sets of problems (hehe, get the pun?) battle!! To see which one describes a more whiny first-world plight and which one describes some pretty heavy shit out there! From the elite-minded arrogant perspective we have YOU: "I’ve seen people taking notes in crayon on sheets of borrowed paper." AHHHHHH SO SCARY. And on the other side of the ring, the perspective of the historically marginalized: ... oh wait we don't have a quote from them, we forgot to get our people to talk to their people, it's hard to hear anything on them from the news too, and damn, I can't find much in the history books either...

      Omg I can't believe I wrote that, but omg I can't believe there are people like you who take their literate and communicative capacities to a whole 'nother level of dumber and vainly pointless thinking in the brain. It does remind me of the time when I mentioned "Romeo & Juliet" to a child and he vehemently insisted that it was "Gnomeo & Juliet"... yeah... someone needs to correct your thinking before you can actually move on and understand this discussion... and discussions about it in the future...

      • Anonymous  

        " yeah… someone needs to correct your thinking before you can actually move on and understand this discussion… and discussions about it in the future…"

        Correct my thinking, eh? Sure thing. Bring some crayons. You take AmEx?

        xxxooo

  31. Anonymous  

    did no one notice that they're also focusing on hiring women? or was that just pushed to the side in the interest of bashing diversity in the faculty? also - diversity on the faculty matters. if you're white, you have white teachers and white peers to look up to, so you don't even realize the privilege you have in having someone to look up to, always. it's not a big deal to you because it's everywhere. for minorities, and women, it matters, and it matters a lot. it's not to say that you need a professor of your race or gender to do well, but to know that someone has shared a similar experience with you is important to build close and personal relationships, ones that go beyond the classroom. everyone should have the chance to experience that with a professor.

  32. wow  

    when did everyone at this school become a racist?

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