Tuesday Talk*: Diversity Commits Suicide at Sarah Lawrence

There’s a professor at Sarah Lawrence, the extremely effete, extremely expensive, extremely progressive, northeast liberal arts college, who, according to students there who have joined together to call themselves the Diaspora Coalition, “attacks black and brown bodies.”

They will not stand for it.

The professor is named Samuel Abrams. He teaches politics. His weapon is ideas, put into words. His words were like knives cutting out their hearts, their souls, their right to never be required to let unorthodox ideas make them confront the possibility that they weren’t entitled.

Having long been a supporter of diversity, not because of the unfair sadness of it all, but because it brought together views and experiences that, when mixed vigorously, would create better ideas and solution, I’ve taken my licks.

But when diverse students not only fail to contribute thought, but rise up to kill it, their “marginalized” involvement detracts from the whole. When inclusion not only fails to improve thought for everyone, but makes everyone stupider, then its justification fails. It becomes a harm rather than a benefit.

The students of this Diaspora Coalition have made demands of the administration of Sarah Lawrence College to make every student there dumber in the service of diversity.

On October 16, 2018, politics professor Samuel Abrams published an op-ed entitled “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators” in The New York Times. The article revealed the anti-Blackness, anti-LGBTQ+, and anti-woman bigotry of Abrams. The article specifically targeted programs such as the Our Liberation Summit, which Abrams did not attend, facilitated by the Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement. The Sarah Lawrence community deserves an administration that strives for an inclusive education that reflects the diversity of our community. Abrams’ derision of the Black Lives Matter, queer liberation, and women’s rights movements displays not only ignorance but outright hostility towards the essential efforts to dismantle white supremacy and other systems of oppression. This threatens the safety and wellbeing of marginalized people within the Sarah Lawrence community by demonstrating that our lives and identities are viewed as “opinions” that we can have a difference in dialogue about, as if we haven’t been forced to debate our very existences for our entire lives. We demand that Samuel Abrams’ position at the College be put up to tenure review to a panel of the Diaspora Coalition and at least three faculty members of color. In addition, the College must issue a statement condemning the harm that Abrams has caused to the college community, specifically queer, Black, and female students, whilst apologizing for its refusal to protect marginalized students wounded by his op-ed and the ignorant dialogue that followed. Abrams must issue a public apology to the broader SLC community and cease to target Black people, queer people, and women. (Emphasis in original.)

It would appear that they contribute some vapid jargon to their very prestigious college, but there isn’t an actual thought to be found. Indeed, these words reflect the failure of diversity, that these students have enjoyed the most elite of colleges, of educations, of opportunity, and are coming away with the lesson that their college victimizes them?

They make demands, always a fascinating concept given that they have no leverage to demand anything except the willingness of supine administrators to appease the screamers, lest they too be subject to “tenure review” by the Diaspora Coalition. They demand apologies, by the administration for “its refusal to protect marginalized students” from ideas. They demand an apology from Abrams for the violence his words perpetrated on the oppressed of Sarah Lawrence. And they demand the authority to strip him of tenure and send him packing.

When diversity ceases to contribute to the education of all, and demands that every student be deprived of thought as a consequence of their presence, it fails. It’s not that anyone murdered diversity and inclusion, but that these students have committed diversity suicide by demanding that everyone suffer the detriment of their presence.

Has the justification for diversity proven untenable? Do the “oppressed” students get to dictate to the college that every student must leave Sarah Lawrence College dumber for their having been welcomed there? Should Sarah Lawrence be the hill diversity dies on? Or are the students entitled to demand that they never hear an idea, a thought, that hurts their feelings, and anyone uttering such heresy must suffer their inclusive wrath?

*Tuesday Talk rules apply.

26 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk*: Diversity Commits Suicide at Sarah Lawrence

  1. wilbur

    Is there anything more tired and worn-out than a sit-in? Or a “demonstration”, period? All that’s missing are the equally brilliant “Hey, hey Ho, ho” chants.

    These people need to change their playbook … it’s 60+ years-old and showing its age.

  2. Skink

    Abrams did some research. His research showed that professors and administrators identified as liberal or very liberal far, like really far, outnumbered those that identified as conservative. His conclusion:

    “This warped ideological distribution among college administrators should give our students and their families pause. To students who are in their first semester at school, I urge you not to accept unthinkingly what your campus administrators are telling you. Their ideological imbalance, coupled with their agenda-setting power, threatens the free and open exchange of ideas, which is precisely what we need to protect in higher education in these politically polarized times.”

    He tells them to think. He urges nothing more. The Diaspora* Coalition refuses his suggestion:

    “The article revealed the anti-Blackness, anti-LGBTQ+, and anti-woman bigotry of Abrams. The article specifically targeted programs such as the Our Liberation Summit, which Abrams did not attend, facilitated by the Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement. The Sarah Lawrence community deserves an administration that strives for an inclusive education that reflects the diversity of our community. Abrams’ derision of the Black Lives Matter, queer liberation, and women’s rights movements displays not only ignorance but outright hostility towards the essential efforts to dismantle white supremacy and other systems of oppression.”

    The article “revealed” no such thing. He derided nothing. He told them to think before buying into any ideology. What they think they heard is completely disconnected from what he said. In saying that, I mean it’s without any logical flow. It’s as though he asked, “would you like an apple?” and the response being “starfish buy cars at pine trees.”

    This is an “elite” school. The future is indeed dim.

    * I had to look it up. Of course, Webster says it has nothing to do with this group:
    1 capitalized, Judaism
    a : the Jews living outside Palestine or modern Israel
    members of the Diaspora
    b : the settling of scattered colonies of Jews outside ancient Palestine after the Babylonian exile
    c : the area outside ancient Palestine settled by Jews
    2a : people settled far from their ancestral homelands
    members of the African diaspora
    b : the place where these people live
    c : the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland

        1. L. Phillips

          Aware of a realtor who made serious money with the pitch, “Bad credit. Don’t sweat it. You deserve a home.” But he came to believe his own bullshit and bought up a great number of rental properties leveraged to the hilt. 2008 took care of that and drove him into Chapter 7. So, Skink, it is important to know your limitations when you head down that trail.

  3. Owl

    As I staggered into the house one night between semesters, Mom looked at my sorry state, shook her head, and said, “Send a kid to college, and he comes home stupid.”

    She’ll never know how much worse it would be, forty years later.

  4. CLS

    Time to yank the megaphones from the children’s hands.

    If college students issue “demands” of this asinine nature, the schools should revoke any and all scholarships, send the students home, refund tuition, and send letters of apology to the parents, as the school has fundamentally failed to prepare that student for the harsh reality of modern life.

    If faculty or administration cave to the “demands,” alumni would be well served to cease donations. Those who cave should also be required to re-interview for their jobs, since they’ve apparently lost the ability to exercise control of a classroom or campus.

    Saving higher education at this point means more people need to stare down these student mobs and say “Not today.”

    1. SHG Post author

      They can do that any moment they choose to take back their campus. Any moment they want to. All they have to do is say no and hand the children a dime.

      1. CLS

        But they haven’t, and I doubt pay phones are prevalent on campuses these days, which is why my proposal is so extreme.

        Plus, if you look back at what happened at Evergreen State, most (if not all) of these demands are disingenuous power grabs. The students really don’t believe any of this shit will do more than give them extra control.

        If severe pushback doesn’t start, I suspect more Evergreen State incidents will occur across the nation.

      2. B. McLeod

        Oh not THESE children. I am sure they are holding out for a Susan B. Anthony Dollar (at least).

        But they can hardly pass as “elite.” They even forgot to state, “These are DEMANDS, not requests.”

  5. DaveL

    Perhaps these students ought to aspire to a level of adult competence where they no longer grieve at having to supply their own laundry detergent, before they presume to set policy for an institution of higher education.

    1. SHG Post author

      Who wants to protest in dirty clothes, and who wants to spend money on laundry detergent when their iPhone bill comes due every month? Have you no decency, Sir?

  6. cthulhu

    Well, were I unfortunate enough to be in Professor Abrams’ shoes, I might try the Harlan Ellison defense:

    “When informed of the complaint, I smiled sweetly and responded, ‘Fuck ’em.’ ”

    Really, these people are just fundamentalists and should be given no quarter.

  7. ShootingHipster

    Honestly thought Samuel Abrams had been quietly disappeared, so hope remains. I wanted to believe the Diaspora Coalition was just half a dozen cranks who lured a small crowd to their sit-in with free refreshments and the chance to see Steve Urkel wiggle his hips. A quick glance at the @SLCPheonix Twitter page suggests otherwise. We’ll learn of their level of devotion to this cause by how they spend their spring break starting in two days. Two weeks of debauchery or sit-ins?

  8. Julia

    Sarah Lawrence charges $69,807 per year (tuition, housing, books, fees) plus whatever meal plan. This money pays for the administration “educating” students 24/7 about “victimhood”, “microaggressions” and such. Now the students want more services for their money and the administration to act, not just talk.

    The college has 2 choices:
    1. Charge for extra services. Say, a tenure review will cost $10,000 for every student participating in it, plus $5,000 paid by the student group to every faculty member participating. If the students decide to fire this prof, they pay his severance. Sorry, kiddos, whims are not cheap.
    2. Eliminate half of the admin positions, bring the tuition down and concentrate on providing education. Issue an apology for failing to educate.

  9. PseudonymousKid

    Whatever convinces you the nebulous concept of “diversity” isn’t worthwhile to pursue, I guess. Since it’s a TT post, I guess I have more leeway to numb your mind with a pointless anecdote.

    When “diversity” was a fresher concept and I was dumber and happier, the RA in my undergrad dorm would be forced to ask residents individually whether or not we thought the school was doing enough to promote “diversity.” I responded by asking if she would support me in opposing diversity for diversity’s sake because that in itself was a diverse viewpoint worthy of being forwarded. The RA told me no, so I told her the school wasn’t doing enough to promote “diversity” because it wasn’t being sincere. And then nothing happened because this was the age before banal conversations between nobodies mattered to anyone else.

    You made your bed, now sleep in it. Diversity as it was pronounced and implemented has been untenable from the start.

    1. SHG Post author

      When the Bakke case was decided, I wrote about it as a managing editor for Labor Relations Press (now LRP). I thought it was the right decision. Sure, there was inherent discrimination in using race, gender or class as a consideration in admitting students, but a room filled with middle class white boys wasn’t going to have the same discussion as a room of people with diverse views.

      But that was about introducing diverse people for a reason, to bring diverse views and experiences into the classroom. It was not, as it’s become, to make the room “look like” anything, or guarantee that minority students be shielded from ideas inconsistent with their entitlement.

  10. Black Bellamy

    *Whistles furiously!

    Usage of the word “whilst” whilst not a subject of Her Majesty, The Queen!

    Five meter penalty, replay 2nd wicket.

  11. John Barleycorn

    I think I went through four Big Wheels in three summers!!! To bad Mr. Fish was never a Big Wheel kid or this toon would be on a proper ride…


    Here you go… its all true, and then again its all bullshit….but everything is just fine…!!!! AND THAT is whatever that is…. LOL

    I have some ideas for mandatory universal CHIIL THE FUCK OUT WEEK but our host is not an opera man and the other ideas (all sound as fuck and bonafide, tried and true…) might not make it past his edit depending on maple bacon, smashed bagels or who the heck knows whatever else…

    Cheers all you SJ back page readers one of these days our host is gonna go ballistic with the “legal: aggregation; and then there is no telling who will show up, but I hope the “shit” hits the fan. The esteemed one might even have fun!!!

    Good to keep our host on his toes… can’t thank him enough for his tireless assumed duties…. and I am sure he would/might rather have it more smooth at times via of his “groupies” and our endless quirks and down right troublesome maintenance, myself included, but more to his credit to put up with it and keep on keeping on…

    Amazing really!!!

    You the man most SHJ!!!

  12. P R

    What I fail to grasp is the incentive for these schools to kowtow to these sorts of demands. What is driving that “supine posture” nationally, because these events at SL are just one example of a consistent national phenomenon in higher ed that has been going on to a greater or lesser degree since Cornell 1969 (Evergreen, Mizzou, etc. with disastrous consequences for enrollment at those two institutions in particular). Are these institutions trapped in a competitive market for virtue, where they are all trying to outdo each other signaling how anti-racist they are to garner applications in a tightening market?

  13. David Meyer-Lindenberg

    I wonder what it’s like to parent one of these kids. After a semester or two of this, surely some fathers and mothers must be asking themselves if this is money well spent.

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