Ask the White Guy: Are White Men the New Victims on College Campuses?

Have the tables turned on white men? What should they do about it?

Diversity & Education: Are white men now the victims?Question:

A colleague recently asked for my thoughts on a George Will column that described several incidents on college campuses where bigotry was directed at white men.


George Will lifted a bunch of incidents from one website ( that has a specific point of view. In my opinion, they’re using outlier events to concoct a trend. Nationwide, there are millions of college students—more than 800 universities granting doctoral-level degrees, thousands more four-year and two-year colleges—and here we have but a handful of questionable incidents, including some terrible mistakes and errors in judgment. Are there more than what’s reported here? Sure—but given that the entire mission of is to bring these incidents to light, it’s still pretty sparse when viewed in context.

How many mistakes were made in the other direction (from white men to everyone else) during the time we’ve been alive? How many mistakes are currently being made? I can’t imagine that the overrepresented white men in academe are the most put-upon group of people—yet, here’s George Will (and Greg Lukianoff) trying to make a trend out of a bunch of unconnected dots.

He—and we—need to start looking forward. Rutgers’ graduating class at its last commencement was less than 50 percent white—and less than 50 percent men. Our future as Americans demands that we older white men understand our obligation to make sure our communications are crafted in a way that is received and absorbed, so we may successfully hand off our knowledge of being a good citizen.

This country has made its mistakes, but we have also liberated hundreds of millions of people in the last 100 years. As a combat veteran, you know this more than most. Was it worth it? Look at South Korea now. I’d say it was.

Korea’s success is a mirror of ours (as well as Germany’s and Japan’s). We have the world’s largest GDP because people can come here and achieve more of their inherent potential than anywhere else on the planet. This is entirely due to our struggle to advance human and civil rights. Our constitution is the longest-lived constitution on the planet, amended over time to abolish slavery and include women in the governmental process. Through legislative acts, our government has also ensured voting rights and civil rights, and included people with disabilities. With the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, we’re quickly moving to include our LGBT friends and neighbors in full citizenship as well. The demographics of our country have evolved; the white men of the Boomer and Traditional generations must ensure that our knowledge of the best of what it means to be an American is passed down.

We can’t do that if we’re needlessly obsessing over slights. Almost all of my nonwhite, non-male, non-heterosexual counterparts in business aren’t obsessing over the slights dealt to them—they’re looking forward.

So should we.

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

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  • I agree with this article–but I think it is very clear that there is real fear in the part of a segment of “white America” that the status quo is changing. It has,and it is-and they are scared.

    While I don;t admire their fear or their actions, we cannot help the whole of America unless we understand the fears of those who want the “old ways” back.

  • Charity Dell

    White men will be victims anywhere if:
    A. No one has stressed to them the value of education, or why it’s important to them to continue striving for a college education;
    B. They haven’t been prepared to function in a multiethnic, multilingual society;
    C. They do not have confidence in themselves BEYOND the
    “privilege” of being “white” and/or “male.”

  • Interesting article. From my perspective, it is useful to differentiate subtle bigotry from overt bigotry.

    The slights that take place toward minorities, while frequent, are mostly subtle, to the point that many go unnoticed. Moreover, they are usually not tolerated at all once out in the public.

    The slights that take place toward whites, while rare, tend to be more overt and don’t carry the same level of outrage. For example, a white anti-affirmative action scholar was invited to speak at a college. Certain segments of the student body were so offended by the invitation that they protested and made threats of violence – the speaker ended up not giving the speech. Thought police 1, expression of ideas 0.

    Ann Coulter got hit with a pie while speaking not too long ago – imagine the outrage if Cornel West got hit with a pie.

    So let’s not needlessly obsess over slights, but let’s apply that logic across the board.

    • Luke Visconti

      You can’t compare Cornel West to Ann Coulter. Just do a web search for Ann Coulter quotes and then one for Cornel West quotes. One talks about love, the other about fury. We’re having Ann Coulter and Michael Eric Dyson speak at our April event. I’ve paid hundreds of thousands in speaking fees for my events, and Ann Coulter’s speaking contract is the ONLY one I’ve ever seen that has a clause in it that allows her to not forfeit her fee if projectiles are thrown at the stage and she decides to leave. I don’t think every person’s point of view is equal or both sides are “correct” at all times. In my opinion, the best way to bring this to life and help people draw conclusions is by providing contrast; Ann will help me do that. Should be fun.

      We had Ward Connerly (anti-affirmative-action activist) speak at one of our events. Our audience treated him politely, but with what I’d describe as sad contempt. He’s used to speaking to people who agree with him—as the audience sat in stony silence, he lost energy, became less emphatic and kind of sad. It was a beautiful moment. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • You should have got George Will at your April event instead of Ann Coulter. He may not have let you divulge aspects of his contract, but he would be more intellectually honest.

        • Luke Visconti

          I find George Will to be increasingly out of touch. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • Every generation has debts to pay due to actions and inaction’s of earlier generations. The civil right’s debt was well over due when my generation commenced paying it in the 60’s. Liking it or not we tried but there is still a balance due.

  • Like most liberals, if you don’t like the numbers, just run away.

    I am a university student and there is no question that females and minorities get priority. Looking at graduate school applications in disciplines like math, engineering, economics and computer science (or really any science), women and minorities can get into similar programs as white males with notably higher GPAs, better GRE scores and more experience. I think that its unfair that white males who spend their early 20s working to get into a good place can be tossed out of their dream schools by women and minorities with lower qualifications. But, I guess this would just be “obsessing over slights.”

    As bad as it is for white males, it is equally bad for Asian american males and worse for non-american Asians. They are so many qualified Chinese/Japanese/Korean students who apply every year, they all have to have very impressive portfolios.

    It is not only harder for males to get in to good grad schools, but also to get good academic positions after they make it out of grad school. And, it is harder for them to get professors to work with as undergraduates and grad students. I have experiences all of these things at both very conservative and very liberal universities.

    • Luke Visconti

      Where are your numbers, university student? What facts are you citing?

      I’ll save you some time. Here’s the deal, genius: Higher education, like corporate America, provides a product for a fee. Nobody prefers “political correctness” to revenue. All of the programs you see and selections that are made are there to maximize the business of the entity. Some leaders are more successful (and have better judgement) than others, but when you think you see a pattern, try and think about one thing only: money. If you can get your racism away from clouding your thoughts, you’ll see that none of the things you think are true are actually happening. None. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

    • Luke Visconti

      You’re right. Looking back on his post, I should have said that his being a “university student” means there’s at least one enrollment director who’s not doing a respectable job. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

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