Flemming: Merit versus diversity in the Vermont Senate

By David Flemming

On Tuesday, the Vermont Senate considered a bill for amending the selection process behind the board of trustees at the University of Vermont (a public university). One senator lambasted the new approach, calling into question why diversity should take precedence over merit to be on the board.

The UVM board currently has 20 men and five women. The bill would create a “state goal” for which the UVM board would “achieve gender balance by 2025 … that the 25 member board is composed of 12 or 13 members who identify as women.”

state of Vermont

Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin

Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin, questioned this thinking (watch Brock’s statement here): “When we fill positions, when we elect people, when we do any other form of selection, we do it on the basis of the best person for the position. We don’t assign them to particular groups and classify them as in effect, fungible, in terms of women, or men, or disabled, or members of minority groups, or by color, or by sexual orientation or anything else. And what this bill does is, it does just that.”

Brock continued: “I wonder if we’re going down a very slippery slope in which today we say there should be a certain number of women, on the board regardless of qualifications or over-qualifications.”

He concluded, “Next, we’re going to say that we need a certain number of people of color, we need a certain number of people who need to be classified and included because of their sexual orientation in this particular case, we say a certain number who identify as men, a certain number who identify as women. But we make no mention of people who don’t identify as either or who are transgender. How often we need to include a definition of what a person is, as opposed to who a person is?”

That really is just the point. Positions such as those on the UVM board should not be looked upon as checking off a box to fill a position. This is even more true in the aftermath of Covid-19. UVM just recently cut salaries and is facing the prospect of paying “$8.7 million in pandemic-related expenses.” UVM needs the very best board members with the most creative ability to balance the needs of its students while preserving its reputation as one of the best research universities in the country.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Images courtesy of Public domain and state of Vermont

3 thoughts on “Flemming: Merit versus diversity in the Vermont Senate

  1. The beginning of the downfall in the United States of America is when affirmative action was passed.

    We need to put the most qualified people into any position in order to survive.

  2. Randy, You’re ‘my kind of guy. It’s refreshing to find an individual who speaks common sense wisdom rather than “politically correctness”. While diversity is a noble goal and should be in the mix, it should be a secondary consideration. To build strong and lasting institutions, we should always strive to select those best qualified for the openings.

  3. Discrimination against any qualified person in any goal is wrong. But definitely what the left is willing to do in the name of being right.

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