There’s no such thing as forced diversity

Joe Pelletier

President John Lahey messed up.

I hope he knows it, and I hope he plans to publicly acknowledge it, because his words on planning to hire a “high quality African-American” were out of line.

I understand university politics. I understand the need to diversify the student body, faculty and administrative staff. I understand the importance of having an African-American in a high-power position.

But the conscious hiring of an African-American is, inherently, a discriminatory act. It severely handicaps any other candidate, regardless of qualification. It becomes an attempt to establish diversity through discrimination.

Hiring an African-American may make the Quinnipiac community more colorful. But it does not make it more diverse.

Only hiring someone who will advocate tolerance and respect will do so.

If that someone happens to be African-American, then splendid. But making that decision before surveying every candidate and choosing the most qualified ruins the integrity of diversity at Quinnipiac University.

Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs, told the Chronicle the university wishes to make this community “open and inclusive.”

The premeditated hiring of an African-American, even a qualified one, is anything but. It is closed and discriminatory.

Lahey’s words indicate that Quinnipiac is focused on increasing the number of visible minorities on campus. This is a worthwhile goal, but it ignores the more important task of fostering a campus community where members, in Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Racial discrimination of any sort is contrary to this goal, regardless of intention.