Once Belarus stops being the flavor of the week…

Once the Western media stop paying attention to what’s happening in Belarus, which could happen within days, what then?

If you’ve been following events from that country, you know Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko remains steadfast that his recent re-election was legitimate. As a result, he’s refusing protesters’ demands to either hold another election or step down.

Western media love the narrative: Longtime president allied with Russia equals antagonist. The heretofore disinterested in politics woman steps in for her husband, the opposition candidate who had been detained by the police, and becomes the instant protagonist. Her decision to flee the country adds a “damsel in distress” quality to this story.

The government’s response to the protests that followed Lukashensko’s re-election reminded Westerners of their (often flawed) understanding of the Soviet era. And the protesters refusal to back down provided an even more vivid memory: the collapse of the Eastern Bloc more than three decades ago. The anticipation that Lukashenko will fall is…well, too good to miss.

The convenient and familiar narrative fits, but so far the final act hasn’t played out: Lukashenko is still in power. And there’s the problem: Unless he’s ousted soon, the media’s interest in the drama will fade. If Lukashenko pulls the plug on the Internet (one can hear the howls of “how Soviet of him!”), making it even more difficult for messages from inside the country to get out, media reporting will dissipate even quicker.

If Western governments suggest in the coming days that Belarus is important to their interests, they’re lying. Surrounded by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, Belarus poses little threat to its neighbors, and it has no designs on territorial expansion. The nation usually enjoys good relations with Russia, though there have been some recent strains, which might be the backdoor way the West tries to justify its interest in regime change.

Lukashensko might survive the unrest in his country, or he might be toppled (and likely seek exile in Russia). Whatever happens to him had better happen soon; the media’s horribly short attention span is soon to run out. A new “you can’t miss this” drama from somewhere else in the world is just what the media need to forget Belarus.

National review: Turn university diversity offices into call-in centers

The National Review suggests one way for colleges to save potentially into the millions of dollars: Gut diversity offices and opt instead for call-in centers to handle students’ needs.

Some might recoil in horror at the thought of such a tactic, but this reaction is visceral, not intellectual. If students have an issue on campus where they feel the need to connect with a diversity officer, would they be more comfortable making the trek across campus to a building they’ve never been in, to talk with someone they’ve never interacted with? No, more likely they’d prefer to speak with someone in the quiet of their rooms, where the surroundings are familiar and the pressure reduced. I suggest keeping one diversity officer in case students need a more personal touch, someone to sit with them as they call the officer over Zoom.

Where does one begin in response to this?

Let’s start with the supposition that students would feel more comfortable having these diversity-related conversations in their dorms or apartments, rather than having to walk across campus.

Got any evidence to demonstrate that students don’t want to trudge into buildings they don’t know to talk to people they’ve never met? (Anyone else read what NR suggests and hear “college students need to find their spine and grow up?”)

More germane to this point: Anyone who has walked into offices that handle issues such as diversity or Title IX (you can add counseling to this list) knows privacy is part of that office’s DNA. The men and women in these offices equally adhere to confidentiality, which we’ve seen in some recent video-call situations was destroyed. No student ever has to fear that his or her privacy will be at risk in a college diversity office. Full stop.

Next, diversity officers, like any employee on a college campus, can’t fully understand the atmosphere at the institution if they’re not there. The most successful officers are not chained to their desks; rather, they’re visible on campus, chatting with faculty, staff or students and talking about what they do. Much like education in a classroom is best, so, too, is being fully engaged with the campus community. That can’t happen with men and women who are only off campus and chatting via video calls.

Third, why would National Review be picking on diversity offices? No, wait, we know that answer already. Conservative animus for such efforts all across America is well known.

Fourth, diversity offices are relevant far beyond handling complaints. The men and women in such offices might be responsible for culturally enriching programming; they might oversee events associated with the university’s Black History Month and similar celebrations; or they might be in charge of managing non-profit or federal grant monies. It’s simply wrong to claim diversity offices only handle student problems; such an argument serves only one purpose: to deliberately diminish what these professionals do.

If NR wants to consider ways universities could save money, then it would be wise inviting its interns (one of them wrote the diversity piece mentioned above) to, well, walk around campus and identify where there’s wasteful spending. Offer them the skills to examine budgets so they can see how much is being done with how many dollars. Somehow I doubt eliminating diversity offices will make a significant difference in the institution’s overall bottom line.

It also should encourage those interns to explore how state-funding cuts have gutted higher education. Remember, liberal and conservative politicians have engaged in that “brilliant” practice; at least no one can argue socialistic brainwashing is at work here.