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Arizona State: ‘A New American University’?

Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael M. Crow brags on his website that his is to be “a new American university.” He adds, “We are committed to building a new kind of university, one whose fate is tied to our collective fate, and one committed to the collective good.” Unfortunately, Crow’s conception of what is in the interests of “the collective good” violates the U.S. Constitution.

As FIRE is reporting today, ASU is currently offering two segregated sections of a freshman English course, under the Orwellian moniker “Rainbow Sections.” No matter how good ASU’s intentions may be in offering those sections, the Supreme Court clearly ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated classes are unlawful. Worse yet, the “Rainbow Sections” are clearly both separate and unequal, as our press release points out:

“These sections don’t allow non-Native American students to be part of the unique learning experience they provide,” remarked Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy. “If ASU believes that some Native Americans may benefit from a different kind of writing course, surely the same goes for students of other backgrounds.”

Appallingly, this is not the first time ASU has been caught segregating its classes. FIRE also intervened in 2002 to stop a segregated history class there, and Crow’s predecessor did the right thing and backed down. So far, Crow has not even bothered to respond to FIRE’s September 23 letter, although some references to the segregated nature of the classes have mysteriously disappeared from ASU’s website. If he is serious about his promise to make ASU “a new American university,” he will quickly and publicly denounce the segregation he is currently allowing.

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