[Vision2020] Statesman on diversity mandate

Ron Force rforce2003 at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 14 09:20:05 PST 2012

Our View, University of Idaho: Unneeded help from Statehouse advisers
12:00am on Feb 14, 2012
University of Idaho administrators have a lot to deal with. Or, perhaps, these professional academics really don’t know much about running a university.

Either way, U of I need not worry about going it alone. Not when the Idaho Legislature is around.

Recently, 21 legislators took some time away from their day job to tell the U of I law school how not to mandate attendance at a diversity workshop. Unsolicited advice is just one more service this Legislature offers.

These lawmakers wrote a letter to U of I law school Dean Don Burnett, criticizing the decision to require the school’s 360 students to attend a 75-minute program in professionalism and diversity. If a student doesn’t attend, a note may be placed in his or her file — and that’s what set off the legislators.

“Using the threat of a memo suggesting clearly that a student is unprofessional, bigoted or both for not attending an extracurricular activity not part of the university’s course catalog is simply unacceptable,” the lawmakers wrote.

Could this sensitivity course been handled more, well, sensitively? Probably. But there is nothing wrong with a college requiring its students to attend a training course. According to U of I, voluntary classes have been sparsely attended.

By requiring attendance, say the legislators, U of I fails to treat its law students like adults. Not really. In the real world, in the work environment that awaits after graduation, employers frequently require their employees to attend training sessions. If a law firm puts a premium on a refresher in workplace diversity, chances are better than good that the bosses will require their staff to attend.

There are mandates in life. It seems odd that this would somehow come as a surprise to members of a Legislature that is seldom shy about trying to impose mandates on state agencies or state universities.

Let’s face reality here. As long as the state’s general fund accounts for a portion of the universities’ budgets, there will be legislators who will attempt to leverage that into the power to micromanage the schools. It’s politics. And it’s inevitable — even if this Legislature has imposed the brunt of the three-year budget cut on Idaho’s higher education system, and, in turn, on college students and their parents.

Call it a case of misplaced outrage. If only legislators were outraged, or at least more concerned, about the fact that Idaho’s higher education budget has eroded to below 2001 levels. This, unlike the hubbub over a diversity course, constitutes a legitimate problem — but one that reflects on the Legislature.

“Our View” is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial at idahostatesman.com.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/14/1993168/unneededhelp-fromstatehouse-advisers.html#storylink=cpy
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman.fsr.com/pipermail/vision2020/attachments/20120214/dd3560ea/attachment.html>

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list