The University of Chicago Law School recently had a one day student boycott in favor of "diversity." Two things struck me about the event. The first was the strangeness of protesting against a University by boycotting classes. It is rather as if I decided to punish my local supermarket for its misdeeds by filling up my shopping cart with groceries, paying for them, then going home without taking the groceries. Yet everyone involved, including the local media, took the idea of the boycott seriously, which suggests a rather odd idea of the relation between the students and the school.

The other interesting thing was the meaning of "diversity." For the students organizing the boycott, it pretty clearly was shorthand for "hiring more black and female professors, admitting more black and female students." This suggests the following question:

"Suppose the school is considering hiring a new faculty member. You discover that he has expressed the opinion that intelligence is to a considerable degree genetic, and that the distribution of intelligence probably varies significantly with race and gender. Is this fact an argument for or against hiring him?"

If the real objective is intellectual diversity, the answer is obviously "for." The opinion is a defensible one that is almost never expressed by faculty members, at least at my school, so a new hire willing to defend it would make the faculty more intellectually diverse. But I would give high odds that most of the students boycotting in favor of "diversity" would give the opposite answer.

Published in Liberty Magazine, reprinted by permission