The limited diversity achieved so far has introduced certain changes in academic life, but it has not transformed the balance of forces on the campus.14 It is true that universities have shown flexibility in opening their doors to women and other marginalized groups; many universities advertise themselves as equal opportunity institutions committed to fair practice of hiring, recruiting, retention and promotion. However, such flexibility may not be solely due to their own motivation. Universities are involved in training highly skilled labour, the largest employer of which is the state. When the state responds to social forces agitating for change and enacts legislation, however cosmetic, to promote equity, it becomes moral and even desirable to train members of marginalized groups who may then enter the capitalist job market.
Problems emerge when feminists demand a radical break with male dominated social sciences, when environmentalists demand the creation of a body of knowledge necessary for the protection of the environment, when gays and lesbians demand a curriculum sanctioning the changing of family structures. These demands amount to a radical change not only within the universities but between these institutions and society. Meeting these demands requires the transformation of universities into inclusive institutions.
Inclusivity I define as the incorporation of alternative knowledge capable of transforming the status quo. For example, an inclusive business school would accommodate the interest of Native peoples in maintaining their self-sufficient hunting, fishing and farming economies. An inclusive agricultural school would conduct research and train students to engage in sustainable organic farming. Inclusive departments of economics would conduct research on alternative forms of economic organization such as non-profit, cooperative, mixed, socialist or self-sufficient production and distribution systems. An inclusive educational institution would promote the feminization of knowledge, and advocate equality.
Often the conservative argument is put forward that demands for inclusivity amount to a challenge to established traditions of Western culture. Western culture is, however, diverse. What may be called Western culture is in fact limited to the culture of the most powerful social class which commands the market and regulates gender and race relations. For example, organic agriculture is as Western as insecticide-based large-scale farming. For that matter, gender and race equality is also as Western as male-dominated and racist relations. Thus, the question is not the conflict between a non-Western tradition and a Western culture. The question is, rather, the demand of marginalized groups for radical change to the status quo.
In the same vein, conceptualizing diversity as a negation of academic freedom is equally problematic. Academic freedom, conceived as it commonly is as the exclusive right of faculty to freedom of speech, is extremely limited. If the universities are to be democratized, then freedoms, whether academic or non-academic, must be extended to the whole university community, especially to students. Students and faculty members with alternative views must participate in reforming the university. Academic freedom has to incorporate the right of students, faculty and staff to challenge existing power relations, otherwise it exists merely as a facade to protect the interests of those in authority.
The conflict over issues of diversity is not easy to resolve. The forces involved in this struggle are no longer sharply divided into marginal versus central groups. Both the centre and the margin are divided along ideological and political lines. Advocates of marginal and mainstream positions are found in both mainstream and marginalized groups. In the last three decades, members of marginalized groups have been able to develop bodies of knowledge which are credible, challenging and vigorous and which have been adopted by previously mainstream academics. For instance, feminist research has offered a serious critique of the male nature of social sciences and the humanities, and this body of knowledge has motivated members of both genders to subvert disciplines constructed by white, male, Eurocentric, middle-class scholars. And while marginalized groups have been the motivating force behind these changes, some of their members advocate the ideology of the centre. It would be more appropriate, therefore, not to reduce the current struggle to a conflict between clean-cut camps. The social base for diversity is now broader than ever before.