Steve Denson, the director of diversity at Southern Methodist University’s Cox Business School, has called the Young Conservatives of Texas “the Junior League of the KKK” in a the school’s paper The Daily Campus.
When asked to explain his comments, Mr. Denson said:
“My comments are based on the history of the KKK, per their opposition to immigration after the Russian Revolution and WWI, when immigration to the US both radically changed the ethnic mix of the population and subsequently led to a boom in conservative backlash and the largest membership population that the KKK has ever held. You can read about this in the Encyclopedia Brittanica [sic].”
“However, my comments were more metaphoric in the sense of ‘Junior League,’ which connotes a genteel, socially acceptable (maybe even socially worthwhile), presentable form of a more controversial elitist social institution. I was essentially asserting that bigotry in a very virulent, socially reprehensible form gets instantiated in an organization like the KKK.”
In his article, Mr. Denson was ostensibly referring to YCT’s stance on illegal immigration and its opposition to race-based seats in the student senate.
YCT-SMU member Reed Hanson responded to Denson’s rants and said:
“Our recent disdain for Mr. Denson stems not from the fact that he is an avowed Leftist. Our argument against him is that he unfairly attacked us with a label that did not reflect the ideals of our organization. We think that he is especially culpable because he holds a significant position in the University and is expected to be one of the more open-minded people since he was given the title, Director of Diversity.”
According to the student body constitution, the SMU senate “shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, veteran status, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation.” The YCT claimed that the senate was violating this constitution when it reserved race-based senate seats.
YCT’s Hanson wrote in The Daily Campus, “I am pretty sure the University would never publicly or privately claim that it supports discrimination. Yet this policy continues to exist, and no one does anything about it.”
As reasonable as this opposition to race-based preferences seems, Mr. Denson apparently disagrees:
“Our [diversity] programs are needed, as was stated in the Michigan decision that was handed down by a conservative court. Diversity programs may help get students from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds in the door, but you all have to make the same grades and have the same standards to pass, stay off of academic probation, etc. So our programs simply help current generations of formerly neglected and/or underrepresented groups gain access to an education that is fourth or fifth generation as far as opportunity for non-minority students.”
Mr. Denson says he supports affirmative action to admit minority students into the University, but insists they will be held to the same standards as non-minority students. I guess the student senate is the exception to Denson’s rule. In that body, seats are reserved for members of certain minority groups and when members of YCT who were not members of these protected groups tried to run for these seats, the administration refused to allow them to do so. Their reason was that the students did not meet the racial qualifications for the seats. In fact, when the YCT appealed this decision, they were told that the senate seats process was not discriminatory toward them!
Unfortunately, this double standard is nothing new among college administrators and professors, especially at SMU. A couple of years ago, I reported on an incident where the campus administrators shut down an “affirmative action bake sale” that parodied race-based admissions policies. The officials claimed that the bake sale was offensive and created a “hostile learning environment” for students. But the administration seems to believe that giving race-based senate seats away is not offensive. Such hypocrisy truly is comical.
Perhaps Mr. Denson and his fellow travelers in the far-left academic establishment need to re-think whom the KKK label should be applied to. Should it be applied to those who seek race-neutral policies, or those who favor using race-preferences in admissions and the student government?