The RG has a list of the demands from UO’s Black Student Task force here, along with UO’s responses so far. Here are some of the demands and responses:
2: Create an African-American Opportunities program that is comparable to the Opportunities program for Latino students.
In fall 2016, the enrollment management team will expand its efforts to recruit African-American students, the UO said. This will include more staff who are experienced in working with the African-American community.
3. Commit to creating scholarship money exclusively for students who identify as black/African-American.
Schill said he has asked donors to fund such scholarships.
4. Commit to having Ethnic Studies 101 as a graduation requirement.
No progress on this demand reported.
5. Commit to creating an academic residential community that will feature African-American history/Oregon Black Diaspora.
The Umoja Pan-African Scholars Academic Residential Community will be launched in fall 2016. It will accommodate 25 students and will be in the Living-Learning Center.
6: Commit to hiring an African-American adviser/retention specialist and black faculty across all academic disciplines, especially major UO departments such as architecture, business, education, math and science.
No progress reported, although the UO is in the midst of hiring 40 new tenure-track faculty.
7: Create a substantial endowment to open a black cultural center.
Schill says he’s working on it.
11: A commitment to immediate change of fraternity and sorority life baseline standards for university recognition.
Beginning in fall 2016, the UO will invite six historically Black Greek letter organizations to the UO to become part of fraternity and sorority Life, including Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and the Zeta Phi Beta sorority.
The WSJ has an article here, by Jonathan Haidt (NYU) and Lee Jussim (Rutgers) that cites research from social psychology and other fields to argue that many of these responses will be ineffective or counterproductive.
Regarding the proposals for racially focused dorms and fraternities:
In a 2004 study designed to examine the effects of “ethnic enclaves,” a team of social psychologists led by Jim Sidanius (now at Harvard) tracked most of the incoming freshmen at the University of California, Los Angeles. They measured attitudes in the week before classes started and surveyed the same students each spring for the next four years. The study allowed the researchers to see how joining an organization based on ethnic identity changed students’ attitudes.
The results were mostly grim. For black, Asian and Latino students, “membership in ethnically oriented student organizations actually increased the perception that ethnic groups are locked into zero-sum competition with one another and the feeling of victimization by virtue of one’s ethnicity.” The authors also examined the effect on white students of joining fraternities and sororities and found similar effects, including an increased sense of ethnic victimization and opposition to intergroup dating.
There may be academic reasons for creating these ethnic centers, but if the goal of expanding such programs is to foster a welcoming and inclusive culture on campus, the best current research suggests that the effort will backfire.
Might the negative effects of these policies be counteracted by diversity training? We don’t know. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that corporations and universities spend on them each year, such programs “have never been evaluated with experimental methods,” as a comprehensive 2009 study in the Annual Review of Psychology concluded.
The evaluations that have been done are not encouraging. A major 2007 review of diversity training in corporations concluded that “on average, programs designed to reduce bias among managers responsible for hiring and promotion have not worked.” A review of diversity interventions published in 2014 in the journal Science noted that these programs “often induce ironic negative effects (such as reactance or backlash) by implying that participants are at fault for current diversity challenges.”
Interracial contact can yield many benefits. In a review of more than 500 studies, published in 2006 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Thomas Pettigrew and Linda Tropp concluded that when people of different races and ethnicities mix together and get to know each other, the effect is generally to reduce prejudice on all sides. This is a good justification for increasing diversity.
But the researchers also found that these benefits depend in large measure on certain conditions, like having common goals, a sense of cooperation and equal status. The benefits disappear when there is anxiety about cross-group interactions. On a campus, this means that increasing the number of black students and professors could, in theory, improve race relations, but such benefits are unlikely when accompanied by microaggression training and other measures that magnify racial consciousness and conflict.