Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Racial Diversity and Elite Educational Institutions: Duke’s Meltdown

William L. Anderson:

Racial Diversity and Elite Educational Institutions: Duke’s Meltdown - Although Michael B. Nifong is out of prosecuting the Duke non-rape, non-kidnapping, and non-sexual assault case, the monster remains in the hands of the entity that helped to make it a monster: the State of North Carolina. Thus, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans are not safe until someone finally drives a stake into the heart of this thing, but that moment surely is coming, although I might add that it cannot come soon enough.

In one sense, this could have happened anywhere. False rape accusations have landed men into prison before, and college campuses tend to be ground zero of the "take back the night" culture in which all Caucasian men are considered to be rapists or about-to-become-rapists and secret members of the Ku Klux Klan. Yet, I would add that the volatile mix of people at an elite university like Duke is a much more fertile ground for a major hoax than would be a typical lower-tier state university. There is a special situation at these types of institutions that plays well to the kind of moral theater we have witnessed this past year.

To further stress this subject, I first need to point out some the social and academic dynamics of an elite university like Duke. Like many other academically elite universities, Duke’s student body is overwhelmingly white and Asian. (The dominance of Asian students is a relatively new phenomenon, as they tended to be excluded in the past, as well as non-white students.) Once upon a time, the demographics of the students did not bother the powers that be at elite institutions. Some, like Duke until 1961, did not admit blacks at all, while others admitted them, but did not have very many black applicants and even fewer black students...

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