Racial and Sexual Intolerance on Campus
The College Republicans at NYU held a bake sale in which the price of the cookies was based on the gender and race of the customer, while white males had to pay two dollars for a cookie, hispanic females had only to pay twenty five cents. They claimed it was to illustrate how Affirmative Action works. And thus my students learned what I have been trying to teach them for five years, the cost of a totally inappropriate analogy. My students discussed the event in a workshop and pointed out that while some of them had been accepted through AA, it was due to their own effort they remained at NYU. Once accepted they must survive the same academic perils as other students. True, the AA programs at NYU offer special help to students accepted through programs like HEOP and C-Step, but it should be noted NYU has an extensive array of students services currently including a program to help students to stop smoking. Regular NYU students can avail themselves to psychiatric and counseling services, career advisors, off-campus housing databases, gyms, tutors, support groups, clubs, health fairs, and the list keeps on expanding and will continue to expand. The regular full tuition NYU student (becoming an increasingly endanger animal as tuition rises) has a regular battalion of individuals, technical aides, and online services to help combat everything from roommate issues to failing calculus.

But I digress.

To say the least many students were more than a little disgruntled by this event and my usually barely awake, often distracted, generally apathetic students actually got interested enough in something to organize a protest of the bake sale. A flier for the protest ended up on my desk. According to the students who are objecting "This bake sale promoted racial and sexual segregation" (uh, no, it promoted discrimination and even that is arguable-they were trying to illustrate a point)"within the New York University community, and created an environment where certain students did not feel welcome to learn and grow as individuals." (When exactly did NYU claim to be a place where people grow? and the last time I checked learning does not necessarily mean a positive supportive environment. Oh it can, but I know of many important learning experiences I have taken away from places that I felt distinctively unwelcome.) "This was especially troublesome because it was our impression that NYU never wanted students to feel isolated, excluded, or condemned because of their race and/or gender." (Oh but it's ok if it is then based on sexual orientation or physical ability? Further NYU probably doesn't want to exclude students in order to get their MONEY in the form of tuition or in the form of donors. Does it care? No, no more than Nike does, but there is a benefit in creating the impression that it does. Can anyone say positive branding?)

Of course, one might think this event stirring up the students as it has warms the little cockles of my heart, but rather than fostering a serious and healthy debate, like the ones I occassionally find on metafilter, it simply has polarized the issues. Instead of disseminating information and material about how the Republican club is misguided or perhaps mistaken, or even creating a forum to discuss the issues and perhaps listen to hear what the Republicans have to say about the issue. But it has simply become our side and their side (of course, my side which is somewhere near the equator at this point). Well at least the demonstration is the park so they will unglue themselves from their laptops for a while and actually enjoy the lovelely weather. Twits.

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