Brown To Self-Identify As Diverse

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How do you solve the problem of not enough “diversity” among your graduate students?

Let your applicants define how diverse they are for you.

Brown University is making progress toward its goal of doubling representation from what it calls “Historically Underrepresented Groups.” But it’s got a long way to go. So what to do?

Well, finding them, contacting them, begging them to apply, throwing money at them, and ditching your academic standards to let them in all take time.

So why not let them self-identify?

Are you “American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, Hispanic or Latinx, and Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander”?

Or can you at least identify that way?

In less time than it takes to say “Elizabeth Warren”:  you’re in!

Now, there’s no mention of the disabled in this list. But that’s understandable. Some disabilities are very limiting. And given that this is Brown, graduate students need to be able to hold a bong.

This scheme came to light, sort of, through the student newspaper, The Brown Daily Herald. Last month, the newspaper reported that the incoming graduate class at Brown is the most diverse ever, taking its cue from a press release. Yet not diverse enough. Still a long way to go. Worries.

Way down in the 21st paragraph, the story originally said that Brown’s Graduate School was going to change the application for next fall “to allow students to self-identify as a student of color.”


Someone at The College Fix, a conservative web site, noticed paragraph 21, and called Brown about it. Brown officials ignored The College Fix, but apparently not the campus newspaper, which subsequently added a correction that the university “has only discussed making such changes.”

Don’t be calling our trial balloon settled policy, young lady!

Can they do this self-identifying retroactively? This diversity problem should be solved in about 10 minutes.

If they insist on going in white-European-heteronormative-chronologically-linear fashion, though, it’s going to take some more activity to get to their goal.

In fact, it might take some ADHD-type activity.

But think of the benefits. For instance:  The street smarts of pre-doctorate students should increase about 10,000 percent, as the new application sifts out applicants too clueless to self-identify correctly.

Yet to pull this off, you can’t have a campus full of Casper-white, trust-funded “Pacific Islanders” walking around. If you do, you’re going to self-identify yourself right into a semester-long sit-in.

How do you avoid such a macro-aggression? You’ve got to get yourself enough bona fide tokens. You’ve got to get them to apply. You’ve got to get them in. And that takes work.

Luckily, Brown administrators are up to the challenge. Here’s what one success story, a first-year graduate student recruited by the diversity police, had to say (in part):

“I don’t know English well”

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Surely Brown can attract enough qualified applicants from Historically Underrepresented Groups to fill their quota … er … goal. Right?

You might think so. But Brown administrators don’t think so.

Here’s a sample of their thumb-on-the-scale calibrating, from the Brown Daily Herald story:

“… worked closely with faculty members and students to re-examine curricula and student programming to achieve these goals”

“publicizing mental health resources for students from underrepresented backgrounds”

“orientation for PhD and Masters students take place over the course of the semester rather than in the span of one week.”

Here’s my favorite, though:

“… met with STEM and social sciences departments to discuss the importance of assessing applications holistically — considering ‘personal statements, recommendations and the research statement of the student and not weighing so heavily on the scores’.”

This shows what you can accomplish when you banish narrowmindedness and expand your consciousness. Yes, diversity is coming to Brown, and you can tell just by the word “holistically.”

Brown’s not just about weed. It’s also about LSD.


Matt McDonald is Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of New Boston Post. Read other articles by him here.