Counterproductive advertising

I’d been hearing this ad for weeks, and it really bugged me; why would a university deliberately advertise itself in a bad light? Anyway, I finally sent a message to the head ( ) of the communications department (who may not have been responsible, but should certainly know who is), as follows:

I listen to WFMT (streaming on the Web), and recently DePaul has been running ads focusing on a professor in the Chemistry Department named Quinnetta Shelby. She doesn’t stop at just doing her research, the ad gushes; no, she’s on a quest.

She “actively recruits undergraduate students of color, as well as female students, both groups that are underrepresented in graduate schools and careers in chemistry, for her research team.”

I am well aware that race and gender discrimination are widely practiced in higher education. I discontinued support to my college’s alumni fund when they proudly announced they had signed an amicus brief supporting the University of Michigan’s admissions policies. But bragging about it on the radio is still a bit much, don’t you think?

DePaul has no warrant to adopt discriminatory policies of its own in order to engineer social outcomes it prefers, even if it believes that “underrepresentation” is a problem. “Overrepresentation” is not a problem, and you can’t increase one without decreasing the other.

If my son were still of an age where he was choosing a college, I would not permit him to apply to DePaul.

I never received a reply, and then the station went into a pledge period and so I wasn’t listening to it for a week or so. But since I came back, I haven’t heard any ads for DePaul at all. Maybe the recruiting season just came to its natural end. Or just maybe, somebody thought better about advertising that it practices and approves race and gender discrimination in its science programs.

About linsee

Linda Seebach retired in 2007 from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, where she was an editorial writer and columnist.
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