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Hamilton College cancels racially-segregated diversity program

Hamilton College cancels racially-segregated diversity program

Hamilton cancels the program but still denies it has a problem: “My intent was to be inclusive but my phrasing suggested otherwise.”

Late Friday afternoon we reported on the racially-segregated diversity program at Hamilton College, my alma mater, Hamilton College segregates diversity program by race.

We documented how Hamilton had scheduled the “Real Talk” program with separate discussion meetings by race, with the fall semester only for “people of color” and the spring semester only for “whites”:

“In order to create a safe space, this program is open to people of color only.  A similar conversation for white students, faculty and staff is planned for the spring semester.”

Hamilton College Real Talk Program - Highlighted

Our report created a great deal of attention, with the story being picked up many places, and shared almost 1000 times on Facebook and retweeted over 200 times on Twitter.

Hamilton’s Director of Diversity,  Amit Taneja, never responded to my questions:

“Can you tell my why Hamilton has segregated the discussions by race, and whether the College believes such a segregation is consistent with Hamilton’s diversity goals.”

It appears that the sunlight was too much, as Hamilton has done away with the program, and instead will hold a racially-integrated program about how to discuss race.

The following email was sent out at 8:33 p.m. Sunday night (emphasis added):

Dear Hamilton Community Members:

Over the weekend, I have had a range of reactions to my invitation to the Real Talk Dialogue series – an idea that emerged from discussions with students. The goal was to facilitate dialogue across and within racial groups through a three-part series of incremental conversations. My intent was to be inclusive but my phrasing suggested otherwise. I think it is a good idea now to pause and reflect on how we structure conversations about race. As a result, I invite all interested members of the community to come to a re-envisioned dialogue this Thursday at 4:15 p.m. to address two central questions: What does a meaningful dialogue about race look like? How can we best structure such a dialogue? Together we can figure out how to proceed in ways that make clear the inclusiveness of our community and our collective commitment to equity, understanding and mutual respect.


Amit Taneja
Director, Diversity & Inclusion

While it’s interesting that Hamilton has reacted, the reaction is less than forthcoming. The problem was not “phrasing.” The phrasing was clear: “this program is open to people of color only.”

If the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have a problem, Hamilton has not taken the first step.

The problem was not just the segregated discussion, but the obsession with race by college officials at Hamilton and elsewhere, which perpetuates racial classifications as a dividing line for everything.


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What does a meaningful dialogue about race look like? How can we best structure such a dialogue?

Who needs it?

What we need is a meaningful dialogue on how we can be better Americans with a fidelity to the Constitution.

What we need is a meaningful dialogue on the dissolution of community in America, and how the restoration of the traditional pillars of society (the Church/synagogue, the school, the home) to their proper purpose and function would bring about a cultural and civic reformation.

What we need is a civil society in which “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” would be the guide and norm in relationships. In this way, we would not care whether the person is black, brown, yellow, white, pink, or blue because we will be judging the man on his deeds.

What we need is a POTUS who is not hell bent on destroying the fabric of civil society and pitting Americans against each other on the basis of race, class, and wealth.

We don’t need the talk of grievance. We need talk about healing our country and putting her citizens back to work.

We need to say Obama must go and impeach him.

Is white a color?

    legacyrepublican in reply to JP. | September 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    No, I think it is fair to say that white is not a person of color from his POV.

    According to the Hamilton website, this is Taneja’s doctoral thesis …

    “Don’t Put Me in Your Boxes: Experiences of LGBT Students of Color at Historically White Institutions.”

    What is more fascinating is that his experience of American culture is quite limited. He didn’t arrive in Canada until 2000 after he graduated from high school in India. He didn’t come into the USA until after he finished his college education in British Columbia.

    So, to be blunt. Mr. Taneja has never experienced busing, Rosa Parks, affirmative action, or any of the other social changes of the last 50 years either personally or in his nuclear family.

    And that is what makes his POV so particularly aggravating. His world view has only accepted the party line of the academic world and his sense of diversity comes from his own personal experiences of campus rejection and acceptance in the world of academia.

    That leads me to conclude that he is too immature in his understanding of diversity to understand how really insensitive his idea for fall/spring program was.

    Rather, Mr. Taneja’s level of immaturity seems more akin to the recent incident at Middlebury College where a white student and a “native” American removed American flags memorializing 9/11 from an alleged indian burial ground.

    The thought processes for both Taneja and the young ladies that led them to believe what they did was right are undeniably the same.

    In the case of the young women, I can forgive them. They will grow up and they aren’t in power.

    In the case of Mr. Taneja, a school official with the power to impose his immature understanding of diversity on a larger population and the institutional backing of a respected college, I think a resignation or reassignment is in order.

    Sally MJ in reply to JP. | September 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    No – And neither is vanilla a flavor. Means “plain” or “generic.” 🙂

Hey Hamilton, if you really want to solve your “diversity” issues, here is how to do it:

(1) Fire your “Diversity Director” and eliminate the position permanently.

(2) Take a look around. You are located in the most “diverse” country that has ever existed. You’ve been wasting an enormous amount of time and money trying to create more “diversity” where none is needed. Get back to the business of educating students.

    janitor in reply to Observer. | September 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Seconding this comment.

    The best way to recognize and respect diversity is to recognize and respect each person as an individual, not as a faceless, voiceless, generic, homogeneous member of a collective based solely on race, gender or sexual orientation.

    Also, I think you hit the mark on your second point. As far as racism, classism (castes), discrimination and “otherizing” people (especially those with less-than-fair skin), America’s got nothing on India.

Hamilton may have had to cancel this one blatant manifestation of their racism, but the powerful current in the Collective remains undissipated and without the least apology, poisoning our national culture.

The interesting phraseology is “to provide a safe space.” Either “safe place” is more common or I’m just seeing it more often. I also read about students and even faculty saying they “don’t feel safe.”

“Safe” doesn’t mean “free from threats or harm.” It means, “not having to hear any ideas I don’t like.”

I give the left credit for honesty in this area, at least. The left has really stopped making a pretense that it favors actual, genuine, free speech.

legacyrepublican | September 23, 2013 at 8:18 am

The diversity director’s name is Amit? I think this is a typo. Don’t you mean Omit.

Although far from perfect, there have been steady improvements in race relations in this country. But the left’s mission is to find new angles and to redefine it so that it can be addressed anew. Without it, half of their “fight” is missing.

Just the fact that the person with diversity in their title seemed unfazed by creating a perfectly segregated effort is telling. The goal may be less unity and more the constant push for finding division, even if created.

It would be better for Hamilton to assemble all races together, providing a questionnaire weeks in advance. The survey answers would be a starting place (& a “safe place’) to begin discussion.

“Mistakes were made (but not by us.)”

    legacyrepublican in reply to Mike R. | September 23, 2013 at 8:49 am

    What is really weird is that if you go to his Hamilton College bio page, he expressly says that he wants to help students that are marginalized.

    He must really want to help the “whyte” students. [ Note, spelling it “whyte” is how this cracker wants his race spelled y’all! ]

      William A. Jacobson in reply to legacyrepublican. | September 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

      I don’t see that on his bio page, what’s your link?

        “Note, spelling it “whyte” is how this cracker wants his race spelled y’all!”

        I did a google advanced search ( plugging in as the site or domain to search, and the only instance of the word “whyte” I found were surnames.

          legacyrepublican in reply to Amy in FL. | September 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

          @Amy FL

          It was meant as a little dig at liberal institutions where women in spelt “womyn” as well as a reference to the fact that blacks can call me cracker and they are not racist, but if I call them the “N” word, I am racist.

          He must really want to help the “whyte” students. [ Note, spelling it “whyte” is how this cracker wants his race spelled y’all! ]

          I’m sorry, I thought you were attributing the spelling “whyte” (which you put in quotation marks) to him.

          You used the third person pronoun “he” in initially referring to the professor, and then went on to explain that “this cracker wants…”, so I apparently missed that you were now referring to yourself in the third person, as well as him, and that the word which you put in quotation marks when referring to him in the third person (“whyte”), was actually attributable to you speaking about yourself (as “this cracker”) in the third person. Do I have that right, now?

          SMH. Or, referring to oneself in the third person, “SHH”. 😉

        legacyrepublican in reply to William A. Jacobson. | September 23, 2013 at 12:47 pm

        He states …

        “My whole interest in going into higher education was to help students who have been historically marginalized.”

Robespierre nails it. Education is one major indoctrination channel, but the well of our national culture is already poisoned.

I observe the “Business Resource Groups” at my big multinational employer and see this poison in action. Networking, training, inside knowledge and advancement opportunities are blatantly tied to active participation in these groups. I joined the most active and by far most promoted group, and requested contact on how I could contribute. I reached out to leaders in this group at corporate and region levels- with no response at all. Just speculating, but I have to consider that my Caucasian visage on the intranet directory might have something to do with the chilly response from the African American group.

This passive aggressive strategy is repeated in business settings large and small throughout the US. It’s endorsed and rewarded by our federal government. It is pervasive, and self-perpetuating. The damage, while not immediately quantifiable, is immense. It will be largely ignored and repudiated, until it isn’t.

I am both anxiously awaiting and fearing the arrival of that day. I purchase ammunition when it is available. I don’t consider it to be hyperbole when I urge others to do the same.

Hamilton College. Originally named Hamilton-Oneida College, after the Native American tribe and Alexander Hamilton. You’ll note they dropped the name representing People Of Color® and kept the name of Hamilton, a WHITE man. Why, this university is itself a grotesque, undying remnant of the same white American racist hegemony it purports to oppose.

I say we fake outrage over this and demand an immediate name change to ONEIDA COLLEGE. We’ll play their own game against them. Change as palliative for liberal white guilt. Who’s with me?

Somewhat related, there was an excerpt from a work by Graham Good in Sp!ked this morning worth a read, “Identity politics is killing college life”. Premise: that the “New Sectarianism” poses a serious threat to humanist principles in teaching. Go have a look.

Our kids are biracial and they almost never talk about race. If you were to suggest they take some race-based studies class in school, they’d laugh and roll their eyes.

I once pointed out something going on in higher education like this nonsense at Hamilton to our oldest daughter a few years ago and asked her what she thought. She replied, as best I can remember:

“They’re complete losers who want to be taken seriously and feel important. It makes them feel superior.”

Unvarnished and a bit brutal … but I have to agree with her that that’s the plain truth.

LHC (who thinks a lot of the problem stems from leftist young people having a stunted development in their sense of humor about life)

[…] Hamilton College cancels racially-segregated diversity program […]

I’m more interested in excellence than diversity.

Good luck with the racially integrated “race discussion”. When I was in the Army in 1974,while they still had WACs (I was one) it was a regulation that all basic trainees HAD to attend a “race relations” course. So there was one scheduled for our all female basic training company,and the discussion afterwards was extremely ugly. The black women present were allowed to freely rip on us white and Hispanic women. (I am white, and not elitist enough to have become ashamed of it.)One of them said, her face twisted with hatred and rage,”I hate ALL white people because of SLAVERY!” Naturally, that was corrosive to our morale,and afterwards,us white WACs were uncomfortable around her, but it was allowed to stand. “Race relations” aren’t advanced by forcing people to “have a dialogue”. We improved our own relations with other races by working together with them day after day in the Army and seeing that, for the most part, they were pretty much like we were, with a few bigoted exceptions. And those bigots would never change simply because we “had a discussion”. Talk is both cheap and often useless. Heck, just tell the college kids to be polite and respectful of each other, then leave them the heck ALONE, and let them get to the classes they NEED.

[…] university quickly canceled this nonsense once light was shined upon it, and the usual cockroaches scurried away from the […]