Affirmative Action?

Maren H. wrote a great piece on the importance of feminism and focused on gender discrimination in hiring. It coincided with something that ticked me off today so here is my rant.

As my tradition-bound boarding school continues to figure things (substitute with race, gender, sexuality, etc.) out, the issue of gender disparity arose in Academic Council, a committee of department chairs and major school authorities. Of course, as a student, I am not supposed to know about this but let’s just say that I have my ways.

A lot of faculty members are leaving the school this year, which means that our only female academic department chair, an English teacher, will be leaving as well. As a result, the Academic Council—composed of the movers and shakers of the school—has become entirely male: the associate Head of School, Academic Dean, and respective department chairs. Faculty members involved in this group are highly-qualified teachers who have worked their way up. It is unfortunate that there is not a single female faculty; however, I believe that the new department chairs were chosen and hired with thoughtful considerations and if qualified candidates happened to be all male this year, then the Academic Council 10-11 will be all male.

During their meeting, one member decided to point out a lack of female presence in the group. To this, the Associate Head of School suggested that he would invite any female faculty to join the Academic Council. That gesture, while it is a response (mind you, a disturbing one), is an act of discrimination. I commend the male faculty for discovering a lack of diversity; as long as we have acute-minded members in the group, I am confident that the Academic Council will continue to move and shake the school to best foster the young leaders of tomorrow. Yet, I cannot help but question the mindset of this group of middle-aged, all-male, white faculty when their solution to an absence of female member is to just ask one to join them. They are all known to be hard workers within the school community and they have rightfully earned their positions as department heads and campus authorities. Inviting female colleagues to participate in the meetings is not only doing injustice to the current (and legitimate) members’ years of perspiration but also demolishing the true essence of feminism: equality between men and women. Just adding a female touch shares the same apathetic mentality with the infamous—unjust—Affirmative Action.

I will be graduating in a month: I guess it really does not matter what the school decides to do after I leave. But I learned so much in the past four years; I would not be writing this without the mentorship of the teachers I have come to model after. Knowing how much it meant for me, it pains me to see school authorities taking such an archaic approach. My sister is in the ninth grade and I want to see this school become more equal, if not for me, at least, for her sake. I hope to return for reunion in the future and discover the campus full of talented, dedicated, and passionate teachers of diversity. I really hope so.

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Kate S
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