Three Thoughts on Diversity, DACA, and Title IX from September
As I’ve grown older, my tolerance for ambiguity and differences has increased. Ultimately, through time and experience I have come to understand why differences are so important.
In the early 90’s I did organizational consulting engagements to develop self-directed work teams, and I’ve learned first-hand that a functional heterogenous team usually performs better than a homogenous team. From my work in the classroom I’ve learned that varying perspectives, world views, and backgrounds make for richer discussions. Diversity of thought and experience often creates more opportunity for people to connect in meaningful ways.
Working with diverse groups can also yield better results. With different experiences and opinions, solutions may take longer and sometimes there are conflicts or tensions. However, the resulting product is generally higher functioning and more applicable .
I think a good measure of societal maturity is how a community takes care of people on the fringe, of those different than themselves. Respecting diversity and welcoming people who may have a different background or perspective is may not always be easy, but it’s worth doing.
The United States has long been known throughout the world for one of its greatest assets – our higher educational system. The access, the research facilities, and ultimately the ability to create new discoveries and further humankind has been a defining characteristic of the American university system.
Additionally, our Statue of Liberty, a gateway for many immigrants to this country, has this quote on it – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The profundity of this statement, together with the nearly unparalleled caliber of our nation’s higher education system, brings us to the issue of DACA.
The tensions around DACA are quite significant right now. If this crisis yields a more permanent solution, then it may in fact be for the better. But, it is important to recognize that all of those affected – whether it is students, their families, their extended families, or their friends – are all living in a time of tremendous tension and anxiety. My thought around DACA right now is wait and see, but do it with a tremendous amount of empathy for all of those who are negatively affected.
As most of you reading this know, Title IX is not referring to a women’s athletic wear company. It has come to be associated with either providing equal sports opportunities in college for women, or with how schools handle sexual assault or sexual harassment on campus.
However, if you peel back Title IX and get to its heart, it’s fundamentally about inclusion, access, and providing a safe environment for more people in a higher education environment. I find it sad that this has become a political ping pong ball and that we may lose the some of the benefits of what Title IX is intended to do.
This month I am grateful that my parents took us to live in another country for 6 years when I was growing up. From this experience, I was able to gain a broader appreciation of the world.