Published October 29, 2010
Has push for inclusiveness, diversity watered down standards?Lucius Daye, Contributing writer
I am all for diversity and inclusiveness. However, there is a caveat: You must have the chops. Last year, I was offered a place in a physicians assistant program. I knew that my progressive disability would prevent me from doing the work or performing in a manner to which I was accustomed. Therefore, I respectfully declined. I did not want to take the slot from some other candidate, even though the school was fulfilling its diversity and inclusiveness societal compact/obligation. I did not want them to water down the field. However, I think I am in the minority with this view and approach. It is a work ethic thing. Let me explain. In my world, work ethic involves more than just showing up to work or class. It means showing up prepared. I also believe it includes finding ways to do your job, your assignments more efficiently, without sacrificing quality. I believe this benefits both the employer and, in my instance, patients. For me, just because we have a diverse or inclusive work force, does not mean that we should accept mediocrity. Employees have an ethical responsibility to want to learn more, to provide more. I know on my off time, I would read copious amounts of literature on my respiratory therapist profession, new therapies, new ventilator modalities — trying to find quicker, faster ways of deducing what was going on with my patients. I would do this on my off time, so when it was time, I could make confident decisions with immediacy. As someone once said, “Lucius makes it look too easy.” It might have looked that way from the outside, but no one saw the time put in away from the job so that I could do this. Therefore, you can imagine my disdain when I heard a person responsible for life and death decisions say, “Education makes me ill.” This was a classic example of the by-product of the watering down of both expectations and personnel. Has the push to be an inclusive society pushed us to this point? Has the desire to have such a diverse society led us to the point where standards take a back seat to qualifications, where we now select from a pool of candidates who have no natural curiosity to learn more, be more, provide more? Sadly, I believe this is the case. I think that the ideals of diversity and inclusiveness without standards have taken its toll on society, and that the attitude displayed above is now more the rule than the exception. My father would tell me as a youth, “All growth happens past the point of discomfort.” I did not understand it then, but I do now, and I repeat the same to my son. I think that there needs to be a re-awakening to this belief, along with inclusiveness and diversity. What this means is that “just enough” is not enough anymore — in school, on the athletic field, or in your job. I believe it is a road that starts and ends with initiative and a natural curiosity to do more, be more, learn more. Academic excellence, intelligence, ambition are now viewed as vices. How sad. I believe the road to recovery starts with what my father would call “an attitude adjustment.” Lucius Daye, a service-connected disabled veteran, recently was appointed to Lacey Fire District 3 board of commissioners. A member of The Olympian’s Diversity Panel, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.