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The president at Western Washington University is sparking quite a controversy in his effort to make the school more diverse. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Western Washington University president wants school to be less white

Taken from Wednesday's edition of The Tom and Curley Show.

A message that Western Washington's President Bruce Shepard has been pushing for several years is starting to gain a good deal of attention after the school sent out a survey that included the question: "How do we make sure that in future years 'we are not as white as we are today?'"

"I've said before, and I'll say it again, that we as a faculty and staff, student body, as an administration, if we 10 years from now are as white as we are today, we will have failed as a university in the commitment to meet the critical needs of our state," Shepard has said, even offering a written explanation of his position.

KIRO Radio's Tom Tangney agrees with Shepard's idea, but understands why it's sparking a lot of controversy.

Tom says...

He's catching a lot of hell, and I understand the catching, because it's sort of indelicately put to say you're too white.

The right-wing spin on this is basically he's saying that being white is bad. That's not what he's saying, although I understand if you want to interpret it in the most negative terms, that would be it.

Clearly, what he wants to do is he wants to do an outreach to minority cultures and minorities at his campus. He is uncomfortable with having a completely homogenous, white university. He thinks that doesn't reflect on the university's mission.

Dori Monson: WWU president's proclamation to make school less white is a slap in the face to current students Read: Dori's reaction

Jason Rantz: The school should be more worried about a diversity of thought than a diversity of skin color. Listen: Jason's take

Now, you could claim that the university's mission should be nothing but educating whoever your students are, and the racial breakdown or the religious breakdown of the population should not be a concern, but I think that this is a kind of concern that as a president you have, that somehow you are not reflective of the society you operate in.

I think what he said is indelicately put, but I think his heart is in the right place, and I agree with the ultimate mission. We'd probably be better off if we had a better diverse mix. That is not to say we should lower standards to bring them in. I don't think that's what he's after. He's just saying diversity is something at Western that they should be aware of.

I think it's a good idea to try to figure out a way to not lower the standards, but to encourage a more diverse student body. I'm still of the belief that most people with a college education are better off than those without one. So, if it's only whites who are getting college degrees and, as a result, getting a leg up on the competition for jobs, that's not a good thing for society as a whole.

Taken from Wednesday's edition of The Tom and Curley Show.

JS

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