What is the Value of Diversity?

Mike Waters

What good is Middlebury’s pursuit of a more diverse campus? Sure, we can all agree on the various merits of diversity both in life and in the academic experience. Diversity enriches us, with its multiplicity of opinion and experience. In addition, its direct pursuit brings people together that otherwise would never have met. These are good things, and by all means, diversity is something we all should look to foster in our lives, but as for the question of what diversity contributes to Middlebury, can we all be so sure that it is valuable? How does diversity translate into a payoff on the investment we all make when we go here?

Now, I’m no economist – and quite frankly, I think that people who measure everything in dollars and cents are the cause of many of our problems these days – but to play devil’s advocate: the encouragement of diversity at Middlebury is a bad economic decision for both the college and its students, for a variety of reasons.

Let’s assume, like an economist (wrongly) that everyone’s goal in life is to make as much money as possible. Middlebury, in that sense, is an investment – one that will reap rewards via more opportunities, better jobs, and ultimately, more money. Clearly the goal of being here, then, is to secure for us that extra advantage, that leg up that will get us the corner office and the big salary. Middlebury’s name alone assures some level of success, but there is more that contributes to our future economic well-being besides the look on prospective employers’ faces when they see where we went to school.

Middlebury is all about connections. We have a terrific alumni network, and our alums have gone on to do a host of interesting things. Many are remarkably successful. They achieved success in the usual ways – intelligence, hard work, etc. – but clearly many of them also benefited from the connections they made at Middlebury. So while “Middlebury” printed in bold at the top of a resume might help in landing a job, it’s even more effective when the person across the desk went here, too. Which brings me back to diversity.

The stated goal of increasing diversity is to bring together more individuals of different social, economic, and racial backgrounds. So while we still maintain a good number of students from our core demographic – rich, white, sweet laxers – we also throw in students who are considerably less privileged. Maybe they’re poor, maybe they’re the first in their family to go to college, or maybe they’re from another country, but what we can be sure of is that none of their parents are the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Clearly this degrades the value of our education. Who is to help us get our foot in the door after graduation if we are suddenly starved for the wealthy, well-educated elites that we have attracted for years?

To this I propose a solution – a new set of recommendations to make sure that we all get the highest return on our $200,000 after graduation (because that, after all, is what it’s all about). Fuck diversity. Who needs it? I may be boring, ignorant, and spoiled, but inside the walls of my McMansion I am all that is Man. Perhaps I’ve never heard an opposing viewpoint or befriended someone of a different skin color (besides Jose, our gardener, or Fabricia, our maid) or discovered that there is something out there besides my stock portfolio and my trophy wife, but damn am I rich. I’ve won. We have won. We went to Middlebury, and it was worth it. My parents might have bought me a Toyota instead of a Mercedes to save money for college, but look at me now: who needs cars when you can just pay people to carry you around?

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, all this and more can be ours – all we have to do is give up this tired “diversity” experiment, and go back to doing what we do best. Lets increase our recruiting in Greenwich and the rest of the tri-state area. For a little variety, let’s make sure we take a couple from just outside Boston.

The blonde lacrosse player? She’s in.
The tall, handsome prep-schooler? Give him a slot.
The son of an investment banker? He’s in, as long as he brings an extra pair of madras shorts – I lost mine.

Think of the dividends they’ll pay! Money for that Proctor renovation? Got it. Wall Street internships for all our econ majors? A done deal. Paying off the debt for the new logo that the college abandoned? It’s in the bag. And of course, the value of a Middlebury education continues to grow. With connections like these, who needs school in the first place?

In conclusion, a quick message to our friends in the admissions office: let diversity go. Let’s pursue that rosy reality I just described. No one needs the stimulation (read: challenge) of diversity. We’d be much happier if we were all the same. And Diversity never got anyone that cushy job or that house in the right neighborhood, but you can bet your hot secretary that Connections did. Diversity might be nice, in theory, but the bottom line is my bottom line. After all, as far as most Midd students are concerned, if it can’t be measured in dollars, then it doesn’t make cents.


9 Responses to “What is the Value of Diversity?”

  1. 1 Mark W. June 6, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    your logic is faulty, the type of connections you talked about at the end of the 4th paragraph is not the same one you talked about later in the article, and there is no clear transition between these two different ideas. in the fourth paragraph the type of connections seemed to be the Middlebury alums, but later you talk about parents of students?!

    parents won’t give kids in Middlebury any internships or employment, they only care about their kids, but alums would.

    and since these “under-privileged” kids (of color, international, poor,..etc) can possibly get very good jobs, they will eventually come back to Middlebury and recruit students. then what is the problem?!
    I even think that they will do a better job than average white wealthy kids, because they started from nothing, and struggled in their lives to reach the place you are in now “Middlebury College”. so they will be likely to proceed on the same pace and achieve great things and give back to Middlebury that gave them the chance to be what they are after graduation.

    I agree with you that this might not be very beneficial for you (’10), but it will be in a few years. I conclude that diversity will be a great investment in the coming Middlebury students’ education. []

  2. 2 John Q June 7, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Wait… Mark W I thought the idea is that he’s being sarcastic. I mean it’s cloudy, but I took the entire thing as cynical. Supposed to be funny/ironic. He is criticizing those people who DO question diversity and act pompous and over privileged. No?

    So maybe I’m off, but I think Waters doesn’t actually believe what he wrote here. It’s like A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

  3. 3 Chris H. August 4, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Of course it’s sarcastic. I guess we really are in the era of joke-explaining, from the New Yorker to Mike Waters… an era which itself comes from our hyper- political sensitivity which comes from a lack of (and I’m being serious)… diversity.

  4. 4 molley k December 11, 2008 at 5:01 am

    This article is hilarious.

  5. 5 Tabbycat April 19, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    What, only wealthy whites can be “boring, ignorant, and spoiled”? Diversity somehow prevents us from being “boring, ignorant, and spoiled”? Wrong on both counts. Diversity does nothing to enrich us & does much to create chaos in our lives. We can enrich ourselves culturally w/o being subjected to the noise, trash & pervasive crime that is Diversity.

  6. 6 jscottu October 5, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I see the value of economics and it is NOT always “to make as much money as possible”. I am even MORE concerned that I am NOT forced to pay for things I don’t want. That’s why what is going on in Washington D.C. bothers me so much. As far as “diversity” is concerned, I don’t want my tax dollars spent on making sure government organizations hire people on the basis of their “race or ethnic origin”. They should be hire on the basis of merit.

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