In a previous article in the Collegiate, readers were informed of GRCC’s desire to hire more minority faculty and staff members. GRCC President Steven Ender was quoted, saying, “We are striving for the percentage of minority faculty members to be equal to or greater than the minority levels of our student body.”
Cathy Wilson, Executive Director of Human Resources, believes that purposefully increasing the number of minority staff members will be beneficial to the students because it will provide a “diverse learning environment.”
It’s “always been GRCC’s practice,” said Wilson, but now it’s “part of the Strategic Plan (a three-year plan outlining GRCC’s values and direction).”
According to GRCC’s 2011-2014 Strategic Plan with Action Projects on the Strategic Team’s website, Action Plan 5.2.1 is to “strengthen the recruitment and hiring process so to attract highly qualified, highly diverse full-time and adjunct faculty.”
While I believe the college’s officials have good intentions, hiring members of minority groups simply because they are minorities does not send a good message to students. America was meant to be the land of equal opportunity. No, that has not been true through most of the country’s history, but there has been a lot of effort to change that over the last forty years, and this new practice, in a way, does the opposite.
GRCC’s intentions are to create more diversity and take part in making equal opportunities by showing minority students stories of success, but they are also being shown that minorities sometimes can, and maybe should, have an upper hand simply because they are minorities.
One way the school is bringing in more minority applicants is by reaching out to trade association magazines because they are “key to providing information about job opportunities to minority job seekers,” according to the previous article. Making a diverse group of applicants aware of job openings is agreeable especially since applicants cannot lawfully be asked ethnicity on an application. But what goes on during the interview process is what concerns me.
When asked if the strategic plan would be followed if there were two equally qualified applicants, one a minority and one not, Wilson responded: “Yes, if that minority is a good fit and interested. And I’m comfortable in saying that.”
GRCC student and part Mexican woman Selena Suarez disagrees with the school’s stance. “If they’re just hiring them because they’re minorities, that’s not good. I like that they’re trying to be more diverse, but they should still hire fairly,” Suarez said.
Diversity is a great thing, but only when it’s natural. Why should all the potentially qualified white males of the world have a more difficult chance of being hired? Students definitely should be exposed to different cultures and outlooks than their own, but not by having minorities hand picked and placed into their lives. People are people: that is an important concept everyone needs to learn; authority figures making an employment decision based on ethnicity does not teach students this important lesson.
Equally qualified candidates should instead be chosen based on character and personality.
Leslie Neal, a GRCC professor who also happens to be of African descent, is agreeable to the college’s plan. “I think it’s a good idea in theory. It helps with peoples’ confidence when they see people in power who look like them,” Neal said.
It seems this could be seen as “backwards discrimination,” if you will. I am by no means calling the school’s officials racists—I don’t think that’s the case. But what kind of message does it send when the color of someone’s skin plays a major role—or any role, for that matter—in being hired?
The human race will not truly be over discriminative-type ideas until employers can hire a person based solely on the qualifications and ability to perform. This is what will really show minority students stories of success: that someone from their race or heritage was able to attend school and get a job just like everyone else, not by special privileges, but by hard work.