In academia, as in other areas of the world, people whom I believe have good intentions do some crazy things. They begin trying to “help” a particular group of society by giving them a lower bar to jump over for admittance than the rest of the competition. I will not hide that I am against such programs. Since I am a white male, I have nothing much to gain or lose by entering the fray of this debate, but I see the harm caused and don’t like what I see.

When we lower standards for entry into anything for one segment of society, then that segment, upon entering through that door becomes synonymous with the idea of the lowered standard. It is an age old “If-Then” statement. If gays/blacks/women/Hispanics/poor/handicapped…insert “discriminated against group” are let into medical school through an alternate route that has a lowered standard than the rest of the incoming class. Then when those students aren’t able to perform and drop out, or through continued discriminatory policy are allowed to graduate even though their work is sub standard, they as a group will be seen by society as less skilled doctors.

If you hire someone just because of his/her skin color or socioeconomic background rather than for their talent and skill, you set them up for failure. Worse than the personal offense is that then all who are in contact with the experiment will from then on look at people of that skin color or background and think of them as inept. This bigotry performed under cover of being sensitive or inclusive is harmful to the very people it claims to be trying to help.

When we in academia hand someone a degree that claims a certain degree of knowledge attained without truly preparing that student to perform because of some misguided idea that we are “helping them”, then we have failed. We have failed to let the individual in question know the true value of the education they have. Let us do all that we can to teach those who will learn and not lower ourselves to the standard of pretending to teach those who will not. Let us not lower our standards either in business or in academia but let us challenge all to measure up.

 

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