Nowadays, NC State seeks to protect its students from “microaggressions,” which are inferred offenses so slight that even the protagonist of “The Princess and the Pea” shakes her dainty head at them.

Back in 2001, however, NC State had a diversity initiative truly befitting a place of higher learning for some of the state’s brightest students. That vision assumed ideas in conflict, vigorous debate, as benchmarks of a properly functioning university.

Here is that vision from a mere 15 years ago:

Definition: In the University, diversity exists when the mix of people from a variety of niches of society is such that the occurrence of a conflict of ideas is inescapable.

Assumptions: Universities are built on the claim that a conflict of ideas is good. Indeed, universities seek to create an environment where the debate of ideas leads to new, innovative and unforeseen ideas.

In order to ensure the occurrence of this debate of ideas, the university must ensure a diversity of ideas and to have a diversity of ideas you must have a set of people with a diversity of experiences that represent a wide distribution.

So defined and conceptualized, diversity then is the heart of the university.