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"Dialogue," then, is one of these outgrowths of the diversity/inclusive/anti-bias initiative. It is a forum in which issues like race relations or gender issues can be discussed – I use the dialoguers' terms here – with open attitudes, within a welcoming community. As I describe in the articles, the key here is an embrace of personal narratives, lest ye be judged.
Of course, now the format is used as a general tool for student government (SGA) and college administration to "address" students' concerns over a botched campus event or the school's drug policy.
"Fight Club" is Skidmore's peer mediation/conflict resolution club, and does the lion's share of this extradiversity dialogue organizing.
So the context of my oped essay is that in the midst of all this groping for the "we-community" my campus is actively villainizing good old fashion inquiry and argument, and thereby diluting our potential for academic rigor and intellectual pluralism. This trendy approach is articulated most baldly by American postmodernist Richard Rorty, but also guys like Lyotard and Marcuse.
My fear is that Enlightenment has given way fully to Indulgance, where narratives rule and critical thought shrivels.
Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words about my articles.
You're certainly correct; it occurs to me now that I did not supply enough background information above. Allow me to paint with broad strokes:
For the better part of a decade Skidmore has made great strides in building its 'diversity' street cred, through instituting some decent initiatives...and some other, rather batty ones.
To give an example of the former: we have a VP of Diversity Affairs on student government, sensitive to any concerns of the student body pertaining to matters of multicultural representation.
As for the battier side of things, we have a "Bias Response Group" which tracks down and 'corrects' incidents of bigotry via restorative justice (the student body also get emails with PDFs of every offense; photos of graffiti, descriptions of slurs, etc.) I could list more of these sorts of things, some reasonable and others, in my view, rubbish.
Well-written piece. As the editor of the Skidmore News I can offer up an editorial we put out a month or so ago touching on this very issue. I'm no conservative, but those of us fighting in the struggle for lucid debate and intellectual pluralism require solidarity regardless of political affiliation.
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