If you were to look at a college class photo from 1907, would you be surprised — triggered, even — to see a lack of minority faces in it? Or women, for that matter?
I’d be amazed if you were. No one is so ignorant that he or she doesn’t know that opportunities for higher education were limited for minorities over a century ago, particularly at mainstream institutions. This is especially true in Canada, a country a bit whiter than the United States. Everyone also knows women didn’t attend institutions of higher learning in great numbers back then.
These facts were lost on the faculty of engineering at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where an email from the dean informed students that some class photos had been removed because the graduating classes were too white and too male.
The Sept. 10 email from John Newhook, reported on by Barbara Kay in The Post Millennial on Wednesday, was supposed to be about welcoming students back to campus after 18 months — including some improvements to campus facilities.
“Most of it was pretty basic, but tucked between the new ‘all-gender washroom’ and the refurbished office for the director of the Student Centre was a note on the removal of alumni class photos,” Kay wrote.
Newhook wrote, “In the hallways of D and B building, the picture of graduating classes from the early Nova Scotia Technical College and [Technical University of Nova Scotia] days showed an engineering history of mostly white male students.
“We had received many comments about this not being consistent with the vision of a welcoming campus for all students. These class pictures have now been removed, archived with the help of Dal Libraries and will be available online in the future to alumni and others.
“Many of these wall spaces are now empty, but we will look for opportunities in the future to project a more diverse and inclusive vision of engineering.”
There are a number of things wrong with this, starting with the obvious: Memory-holing the past doesn’t make the present or future any more diverse. In fact, it’s something both the cultural left and right can get together on.
Do you agree with the decision to remove the class photos?
You’d think the wokerati would prefer to keep the photos up to remind everyone just how homogenous and patriarchal the past was. Maybe the Dalhousie University Women’s Encounter Group can gather in front of the class photos on a weekly basis and have a two-minutes hate in dishonor of the previous classes.
Nor, in fact, does taking the photos down show any real commitment to anything. This is arguably the least investment possible to virtue-signal. And, heck, why not capitalize on it?
Maybe the university could put together a working committee to discover why the photos stayed up so long. It could do a background check on some of the engineers in the 1907-era class photos. Is there a Canadian version of the Klan? I’m sure someone in the pictures must have been in that.
Maybe one of them wore blackface. You know, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did — it’s easier to hate on a dead white guy than a living white guy who espouses liberal principles, too.
If they can’t find any of that, these men are being expurgated from the university’s history merely for existing at the wrong point in time.
They’re not Confederate generals or slave owners. Their only crime is that we’ve finally begun to figure out race, gender and intersectionality in 2021, and the first truly moral generation to ever trod upon this earth is going to judge the past by their woke standards — which are irrefutably correct in all respects, and don’t you dare say otherwise.
There’s another issue that needs to be mentioned here, too: Despite the best efforts of university officials everywhere, enrollment in STEM programs still skews male.
For her piece at the Post Millennial, Kay talked to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumnus “who for many years served as an education counsellor there” and who was “privy to internal memos, datas and briefing.”
“Up to the early 1970s, he told me, MIT’s population was over 97 percent male. The goal was to reach parity by the early 1980s, which would require massive equity efforts,” she wrote.
“But, since the recruitment pool for both men and women is the most self-selective in the country — that is, only extremely high achievers of both sexes even bother to apply — MIT can accept people from the lower levels of the applicant pool and they will still be superior students.
“As always, significantly more men than women apply every year. But MIT is a small school. As long as they can find 500 top-notch female applicants — and that’s easy for them, not so easy for large schools of lesser prestige — they can match vision to reality in enrollments.
“So, with a heavy thumb on the social-engineering scales, by the end of the 1980s, MIT did reach an undergraduate gender ratio of 45 percent women to 55 percent men, with a dropout rate of less than five percent. But there, despite continuing affirmative action for women, it has remained for the past 35 years.”
I’m sure if MIT took down some class photos from 1907, though, it could get to full parity.