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Is Diversity In Education Essential?

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Is Diversity in Education Essential?

During the course of this essay I will present a response to the letter "Education as a commodity" and explain why I disagree with Guerber's weakly substantiated argument. I shall address the three prevalent premises offered by the author, while further critically evaluating and revealing their flaws, truths or irrelevances.

It is clear from the letter, the author has concluded that universities who take diversity into account when selecting future students, are doing so wrongly. He believes it is unfair and irrelevant to education. "It does not, and should not, educate one group of people over another because of their race." (Guerber 1999). This topic of affirmative action, quotas and diversity in university selection, is a much talked about subject, especially in the United States of America. With regards to this essay I shall concentrate on the issue in America, as it is most relevant to the article.

In the first paragraph of Mr Guerber's letter, he argues that students purchase ONLY an education of universities and nothing else should be included in this equation and that diversity therefore is irrelevant.

Looking at this sweeping statement's reasoning logically, it can be plainly seen that the correlation from the one statement to the other, is not completely justified. In order for him to make that particular statement true, he would have to answer the questions: Does or should education include diversity, or is diversity essential to a good education? If he himself had answered those questions, then perhaps there would be no need for me to write this essay.

He solely views education as a commodity. A traded item, that is an item that is bought and sold. Unfortunately education is a unique product. It is paid for but it is not sold. Education is earned through hard work, learning, critical thought and studying. Education is the transfer of skills that accompanies growth and maturity, which transforms a student into an experienced and equipped scholar, who is able to execute an occupation with excellence. If acquiring education were as easy as buying a degree, then the situation would be very different.

The author has confused himself and the readers, on the concept of a commodity. A commodity can either be a tradable item, as said before (Oxford Complete Wordfinder 1993 p.285 ). Or alternatively, more correctly and directly applicable to education, it could be something that people value or find useful. The author has made a fallacy of ambiguity (Van Vueren, p. 3.16), on which his argument is based, thus his argument is flawed.

Therefore as the basic function of university is to educate their students, it is also their responsibility to equip them with skills to obtain careers in the world of work. If they are to do so in a diverse world, where no two people are alike and there are many different races. Where each of the thousands of different values and cultures has its distinct place. It is completely logical to have a diverse university, representative of the true, real world situation. So they can learn from each other's different cultures and share in each other's vast experiences. If we are not exposed to a diverse culture, we are limiting ourselves. Limiting our exposure to new things and experiences. These diverse experiences could extend our education, which essentially is why we attend university. Best put by Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger, a former Duke University law professor who said "Exposing students to a diverse faculty on a daily basis, can dispel stereotypes and misconceptions and foster mutual understanding and respect.". Universities need to truly represent the world, not providing an isolated haven to foster and promote homogenous intolerant perceptions. Investing in the scholars, so they have a place to expand their thoughts and learn new exciting ideals. If diversity is included in education, the university is taking a holistic view of the life of the student. Not only a narrow-minded approach, of merely facts and figures.

In the second paragraph the author goes on to give a trivial and incomprehensive example of how a particular chemistry major " not here to become culturally endowed or to receive a diverse education." (Guerber 1999) This is not very good grounds for the sophomore's argument, as different people come to university for different things. This one student may not come to be "culturally endowed" but others may very well. As is the case with most foreign students. One cannot base an argument on a single individual's particular view.

Yes achieving your degree is your primary aim of attending university, but it most certainly should not be the only one. One of the most important aspects of education is the social skills learnt at university. The real world is diverse and it is logical, that the place we prepare for it should thus be the same.

In this day and age, business enterprises are not just looking for bright young graduates who are knowledgeable and intelligent, but who are socially aware, thus socially functional. These attributes allow for a socially integratable employee. This increases the business competitive advantage, as the company's employee's work effectively together as a team.

Students may merely want to receive an education in "Chemistry" and a piece of paper as proof. But it is necessary that they receive more. Diversity offers that added advantage.

Throughout the final paragraph the author explicitly states that a university "...should not, educate one group of people over another because of their race." (Guerber 1999) And we agree. In fact it is exactly what diversity aims to alleviate. It would be illegal and unconstitutional for a university to do so. The author is repeatedly illustrating his clear misunderstanding of the difference between diversity and quota's.

Quota's are the maximum number or quantity that is permitted or needed (Oxford Complete Wordfinder 1993 p.1255 ). It involves no discretion. On the other hand, diversity serves to preserve the inclusion of cultures and involves only discretion. Quotas are not legal in the United States of America and most certainly are not in place in University. There are diversity systems in place, where certain minority groups are favoured over other majority groups, only if they meet all the criteria. Or as the author puts it "...the people who are likely to achieve and apply the education they'll acquire." (Guerber 1999) The system is there to try and right the wrongs of past discriminations, through active opportunities. As we cannot deny that there are most



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