COMMENTARY: White Educator Takes Courageous Stand

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“I needed to provoke attention to the changing demography of our state, and when you use words like ‘white,’ that does get people’s attention,” Shepard said. Shepard has received many notes of support and studies have shown that Shepard’s call for diversifying his university could also be beneficial to white students.

In a 1996 study, “Who Benefits from Racial Diversity in Higher Education,?” researchers argue that racial diversity has a direct positive impact on the individual white student: The more diverse the student body, the greater the likelihood that the white student will socialize with someone of a different racial group or discuss racial issues.

I believe the core of this study still applies today.

“Socializing with someone of a different racial group or discussing racial issues contributes to the students’ academic development, satisfaction with college, level of cultural awareness, and commitment to promoting racial understanding,” wrote authors Mitchell J. Chang, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Loyola Marymount University, and Alexander W. Astin, Director, Higher Education Research Institute, University of California–Los Angeles.

Despite the criticism, Shepard is making no apologies – and he’s not backing down. “We will not waste a moment’s time responding to extremist media and the hate mongers they pander to,” Shepard said. “As a university, we believe that difficult questions must be answered thoughtfully and deliberatively.”

Shepard is a courageous leader who should be applauded. But instead of receiving widespread appreciation, he’s being shadowed by extra security guards to protect him from bigots who refuse to accept the nation’s shifting multicultural landscape. And that’s a shame.

What do you think?

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