A woke person opposed to diversity statements

November 17, 2021 • 11:00 am

Clearly a lot of people feel that there’s good reason for academics applying for their first job to include “diversity statements” in their application package, for this is becoming de rigueur for nearly every place except the University of Chicago. And even here we “encourage” applicants to discuss how they’d address the issue of teaching diverse students, though we don’t encourage them to discuss other aspects of their teaching.

I’ve already discussed why I think “diversity statements” are a bad idea, but I’ll mention just the most important: I see them, in today’s political climate, as a form of compelled speech that violates the First Amendment, even though the Constitution doesn’t apply in this sense to private schools. They force many applicants to make up stuff that they think fits with the “approved” narrative about fostering racial diversity (no other form of diversity is of interest in these statements).  That is different from making candidates write about their academic achievements and research plans, as there are no generally approved narratives about what kind of research a candidate is supposed to do, and achievements can be checked.

Further, some schools, like the University of California, often screen applicants based solely on their diversity statements, so if you don’t have a good background in promoting diversity as well as a good plan for promoting diversity at the University and a philosophy of diversity, your application gets tossed without further consideration. That is unconscionable, and puts considerable pressure on the candidates to confect a statement that they think will pass muster.

I just received this tweet and its followups within the last half hour—UCSC is doing such a thing (Berkeley and Davis already do); there is more evidence in the thread:

The thread goes on, but you can read it for yourself.

The article below from the Chronicle of Higher Education (click on screenshot) is in general against the issues I usually write about here.  While you might think from the title that the author, a professor of philosophy at York University in Toronto, might be anti-woke, but she is in fact pro-woke, and her beef is that she’s tired of antiwoke people complaining about wokeness. Do read it, as it offers many views opposed to my own. Rini thinks that the whole “woke crisis” is overblown, and is mainly (but not exclusively) a cherry-picked set of anecdotes without major implications and no ability to solve problems. Move along, nothing to see here. (But she apparently doesn’t worry that Wokeism itself offers no ability to solve problems, either, and that’s one reason to criticize it!)

Click to read:

While Rini doesn’t like anti-Woke rhetoric, there’s one exception—diversity statements:

Perhaps the worst effect of the anti-Wokeist rhetoric invading academe is that it drowns out more careful critiques of so-called “Woke” policies. Take, for example, the diversity statements that some colleges and universities now require from faculty job candidates. I think these are a bad idea for at least two reasons having nothing to do with scary stories about Wokeism.

First, requiring diversity statements in job materials places responsibility for correcting entrenched historical injustice in exactly the wrong place: on disempowered applicants (often themselves members of marginalized groups), rather than on the top-of-the-hierarchy administrators who can actually make systemic change. Second, requiring these statements as part of the hiring process encourages candidates to think about diversity as just another marketable skill, something to puff up and cynically stage like everything else in one’s portfolio.

Agree with these criticisms or not — but notice they don’t involve ascribing a devious agenda to diversity-statement proponents. I think administrators who impose diversity-statement requirements are doing their best to address a difficult problem, even as I believe they’ve made a mistake. This should be a collegial disagreement over a somewhat technical problem, a careful survey of all those air-conditioner components spread out on the desk.

But we can’t have that collegial disagreement while others keep pulling the Wokeism alarm.

I’m not sure how much I agree with her here. You’re not placing responsibility on the candidates to correct inequality; you are hiring diverse candidates (who may largely confect their statements of plans and commitments) as a way of correcting injustice. The very presence of minority professors is a corrective. But yes, the top administrators bear substantial responsibility for creating the programs to increase diversity.

But I do agree that such statements encourage candidates to see diversity-promotion as a “marketable skill”, and there are even people whom you can pay to write a statement for you! The pressure to make up stuff, though, is much higher for diversity statements than it is for writing about your research plans and goals. Further, once you’re hired, few colleges seriously consider how much you’ve promoted diversity as an assistant professor when you’re later up for promotion. (However, granting agencies like the NIH do give out grants, whose acquisition is important in advancing a scientific career, based on diversity and inclusion aspects of one’s research).

To quote Rini again:

Frank McCormick, a history teacher and author of many impassioned tweets about critical race theory, says diversity statements are “what ideological screening in education looks like. This is how the Woke uses gatekeeping to maintain institutional capture.”

That sounds terrible. But is it happening? Isn’t it more likely that job candidates will tackle diversity statements the same way they do other application materials: look up examples on the internet, change a few details, and render the entire thing in bland inoffensive prose that no one on the hiring committee will want to read?

. . . Correcting historical injustice in academe is too serious to treat as just another PDF upload or entry on a search-committee spreadsheet. That conversation shouldn’t be conducted through job-market materials — but that’s because it is too important, not because it is a stalking horse for angry mob ideology.

Rini, however, is in favor of diversity training, though she doesn’t mention that such training has repeatedly been shown to be ineffectual because it doesn’t dispel bias and may increase it:

The political scientists Elizabeth Corey and Jeffrey Polet say:

Trainings now aim at ends that are not only tendentious but even contrary to one of the chief ends of the university itself, which is the pursuit of truth. The problem is that “training” tends to assume that the truth is already known. It claims expert knowledge of truths about such complex and abstract things as “justice” and “race” and “gender.” But when these “truths” are, in fact, a matter of reasonable disagreement and current political contestation, the trainings become indoctrinations.

That certainly does sound terrible! But isn’t the problem here with trainings as such, not specifically about diversity training? As Corey and Polet go on to say: “Training stipulates the truth of its goal, and thus operates outside the proper authority and function of academic life itself. Educators take nothing to be self evident; trainers take everything to be so.” Understood literally, this view of academe — that its practitioners should take nothing for granted — implies educators should never be trained on anything, not even a payroll interface or PowerPoint. But, of course, that’s unworkable in practice. There is an inevitable tension in requiring academics — people prized for their independent thinking — to sometimes suspend their autonomy for the sake of keeping a large institution manageable. Yet we do it anyway for things like accounting rules and hiring practices. The answer isn’t as simple as that iconoclastic slogan “take nothing to be self evident.”

Yes, but there’s a big difference between diversity training and the kind of mandatory training I’ve taken here: training in sexual harassment, fire prevention, what to do if there’s a shooter on campus, how to deal with a kidnapping, and so on.

Diversity training isn’t required here and would never fly as a requirement—it’s optional. When the Provost once suggested that the faculty might have diversity training, the howl of protest was so loud that the matter wasn’t brought up again. The reason we require other types of training but will never require diversity training is that there are arguable and factually dubious contentions often made in diversity training, and we don’t propagandize our professors with things that can be contested. On the other hand, how to prevent fires or deal with shootings or illegal sexual harassment can’t be seen as contestable issues—at least to most reasonable people.

Note that I’ve just “engaged in collegial disagreement while still pulling the Wokeism alarm”, something that Rini thinks isn’t possible. But it is.

And I disagree with her that the excesses of the progressive left are relatively harmless. I can think of few greater harms than Trump getting re-elected in 2024.

Finally, below is a recent ad for a physical chemist at San Diego State University. It is overwhelmingly about the candidate’s ability to address diversity, with very little about their academic qualifications. Click on the screenshot to read the whole thing.

Do read the whole ad. It’s 764 words long. Of these, 251 words are about diversity statements and 85 about the diversity-promoting nature of the college, for a total of 336 words (44.7%). Only 86 words are used to describe the academic requirements of the job (research, teaching, funding, etc.); that’s 11.2%. The rest of the words deal with various policies of the university.

I submit that something has gone wrong in a job ad—and perhaps in academia— when discussion of diversity requirements is four times as important as academic requirements.

h/t: Luana, Anna

44 thoughts on “A woke person opposed to diversity statements

  1. Further, once you’re hired, few colleges seriously consider how much you’ve promoted diversity as an assistant professor when you’re later up for promotion.

    I bet you won’t be writing such a sentence in ten years time! Or maybe five.

  2. As you note—and I would like to amplify—requiring social justice statements in job applications just encourages people to fabricate their backgrounds, beliefs, and commitments, and even invent false narratives regarding past practices and actions. Is this what we want at the academy—a generation of liars?

    1. To me, you are not a liar if you pour the required nonsense (which they should not demand from you in the first place) to get a job you are qualified for. The same way, you are not a liar if you say untruths at knife-point.

  3. I’ve served on hiring committees at my university. In my opinion, the job ad is perfectly fine. THe descriptions for a qualified computation physical chemist is indeed short, but perfectly descriptive. The text on diversity is longer, yes. But only because it describes all 8 of the criteria desired, of which the successful candidate need only demonstrate some background/aim to meet three. All 8 criteria are pretty broad and don’t seem especially onerous. The mere fact that this text takes up the largest percentage of the ad space and that is significant is ridiculous. All universities require a certain amount of “service” which is described in various ways. Prioritizing service aimed at outreach and recruitment for traditionally underrepresented populations is certainly reasonable. I see nothing WOKE about that ad at all. And I’ve seen thousands of academic job ads and served on several university hiring committees. Nobody was giving academic credentials short shrift.

    1. Have you served on committees where all applications were pre-screened on some unrelated issue like this?

      This seems to be what’s new. Compared to humoring the admin requirement for boilerplate, which nobody on the faculty committee would bother to read (assuming their real interest was hiring a researcher / teacher) or at least not until they’d basically decided.

      Having them pre-read by someone outside the academic field, who will discard many of them before they anyone qualified to judge academic credentials sees them at all, that’s what seems like a new feature.

      (Something similar is a common complaint about corporate hiring — that technical people never see CVs on which some technically ignorant, possibly automated, system does not find all the right keywords.)

    2. Yes, and I’ve also served on hiring committees and in my view (and for reasons that I’ve given) the job ad is not perfectly fine. It certainly does prioritize a specified form of ideologically-inspired behavior as a prerequisite to hiring (note that ‘helping the poor’ doesn’t count). Service is usually described in just a few words.

      You can apologize for calling what I said “ridiculous”, or you can leave. Your choice. You don’t read the Roolz, do you?

      1. I apologize for saying that was ridiculous. That was unwarranted statement on my part. But I would argue the definition of service has broadened.

    3. “Prioritizing service aimed at outreach and recruitment for traditionally underrepresented populations is certainly reasonable. I see nothing WOKE about that ad at all.”
      Funny some “traditionally underrepresented populations” (the Jews, or people of Chinese or Indian extraction) did manage to catch up, if not surpass, the broader public in their academic representation, no special “outreach and recruitment” needed, thank you very much? By using the same tools of meritocracy available to everyone, no special treatment needed.
      And it does not appear you would recognize woke under ANY circumstances, I doubt you think such a thing exists at all.
      And that is what is REALLY ridiculous here.

  4. I don’t think diversity statements promote diversity directly. They are not ensuring that diverse candidates are hired (that’s easy enough to do, assuming you get applicants). The diversity statement is about what the candidate would do as part of his job to foster diversity. In that respect, I think these often are ideological tests, or at least an invitation to dissimulation. They are a great way to see if this person thinks like we do.

    Related to this, how do we know when we are diverse? When has equality been achieved? When the faculty mirrors the state, national, or discipline’s demographics? When the department does? What if, over time, the minority makeup of the institution slips, is this new proof of a problem? How do you keep this from just being tokenism, especially if diversity is considered before professional qualifications?

  5. A lot of this kind of reminds me of lists of things you were not allowed to ask people when interviewing for jobs. Things like, are you planning on getting pregnant? There are just things you have no business getting into with people during the application process. What your diversity has to do with teaching almost any subject would be over the line for me. Yes you can ask if they have ever been arrested but have you been a bigot lately would be a no.

    1. It’s not like that at all; the question is asking how the candidate will perform an expected salaried job activity. How they conduct themselves in the classroom, with students, or when selecting grad students, and so on.

      Now it does presume a yes answer to the question: should diversity improvement be a salaried job activity. I think that presumption is something a lot of people disagree with either in part or in whole. But no, it is not like asking the candidate if they plan to take time off in the near future for reason XYZ.

  6. I am shocked, shocked that the San Diego State ad contains as much as 11% verbiage about
    what we used to call professional qualifications. Surely, the urgent need to create an anti-racist physical chemistry supercedes any consideration of something as insignificant as, well, physical chemistry.

    As to Norman Gilinsky’s concern that the Diversity Statement ritual will produce a generation of liars in academe: we have a good example of how that worked out in Biology in a large Eurasian country of recent memory.

  7. Years ago (maybe 6 or so years ago), I think many of us “woke” up to what was going on in politics. Specifically that corporations seem to be our ‘dictatorship’ because what they say and want goes. Like him or not, Bernie Sanders played a crucial part in opening our eyes to all the corruption. I was proud to be “woke”, but some woke people began to take it further and further until we reached a micro-wokeism that focuses on the minutest details that many of us don’t even notice, and is more destructive than productive. I know micro-wokeism isn’t a word, but it might as well be….we make up words and phrases daily as the cool thing to do. 😉

  8. … a form of compelled speech that violates the First Amendment, even though the Constitution doesn’t apply in this sense to private schools.

    At public universities such “diversity statements” would violate the First Amendment’s “compelled speech” doctrine unless applicants are permitted to opt out of making such statements — the way students are permitted to opt out of saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Cf. Wooley v. Maynard (New Hampshirites permitted to cover the state motto “Live Free or Die” on state license plates).

    1. The Leonard “Bones” McCoy application:

      Dammit screening committee, I’m a doctor not a social justice warrior!”

    2. I don’t see how this is tenable. If making a statement is compelled by virtue of the fact that you won’t get the job if you don’t say it, then asking people for their experience in the field for which they are applying counts as compelled speech.

      I think it should be a requirement of any job that you treat your colleagues and students fairly and not give preferential treatment based on race, sex, sexuality, gender identity etc. I also think that a university could expect promotion of diversity as an aspect of the job description and therefore asking about credentials in these regards is fine in terms of the US constitution.

      Whether it is a good idea is another matter. I think these diversity statements, and in fact a lot of Woke ideology, is a cargo cult. I don’t think any of this stuff really does anything to improve the lot of women and people from minorities.

  9. There is too much verbiage here on all sides, when the simple fact its that we are facing a neo Stalinist indoctrination of the most dangerous kind, one that is going to dumb down or hypnotize or alienate qualified people from teaching in our universities. Those who don’t know the history of how Lysenko smeared Vavilov, who ended up starving to death after years in a subterranean jail should familiarize themselves with this dark period of history, one that is now being repeated in this country. Its dangers are not yet recognized, even by academic administrators themselves, but they are real. Loyalty oaths are now being required and yes, that is the correct description. Race, which now denotes oppression followed by appropriate recompense and penance, is now the ruling paradigm. As Darwin and evolution were cursed and prohibited, now racial fanatics are determined to oust
    nonconforming beliefs. Their method is simpler and to the public less painful: job refusal, shaming, shunning, guilt by association. This is the new soviet brainwashing: twist dissent minds hard enough and they will eventually shut up or disappear. So much for truth.

    1. Well-stated indeed! The worst elements of Stalinism are being combined with the ideological fanaticism of Maoism (young “woke” Red Guards filled with ignorance and zealous dogmatism). To deny that the incessant (and insanely racialized) moralizing, the never-ending hunt for heretics, the anti-rational refusal to engage in reasoned debate, the elevation of pseudo-intellectual cranks into gurus and prophets of so-called “anti-racism”, and the rapid expansion of the grotesquely-lucrative DEI racket all constitute a genuine danger to democracy, to freedom of expression, and to the proper functioning of the university, would be the height of foolishness.

        1. I am a Bulgarian. It started exactly this way, with scaring people to say things they don’t think and to be silent about what they think, by fanatics monopolizing jobs and giving them to those who tout the party line, and by dismantling or “reforming” key institutions that worked perfectly fine. The gulag came a little later.

          1. You can make a slippery slope argument if you like but equating today’s woke crowd to “the worst elements of Stalinism” is monumentally absurd. It reminds me of my younger days, those many decades ago, where anyone to the right of George McGovern was called a fascist (in some circles). Hyperbole on steroids.

        1. Many years ago, the Soviet defector Bezmenov warned of what might happen in this country. More recently, Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist (and dissident), has spoken of the troubling similarities between the cult of “wokeism” and the ideology which inspired the terror unleashed by Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

  10. …notice they don’t involve ascribing a devious agenda to diversity-statement proponents

    I certainly don’t ascribe any devious agenda to woke efforts. I think they’re very well-intentioned. It’s just that, like a lot of political issues, they’re so concerned with fixing the problem that they don’t spend the time they should thinking about the solutions they offer. It’s “we have to do SOMETHING! Emergency!” sort of thinking. I think they also steamroll over real differences of opinion about diversity’s role, value, etc. – which is still well-intentioned, but is somewhat authoritarian in it’s “everyone must be good liberals” messaging.

    Frank McCormick, a history teacher and author of many impassioned tweets about critical race theory, says diversity statements are “what ideological screening in education looks like. This is how the Woke uses gatekeeping to maintain institutional capture.”

    That sounds terrible. But is it happening? Isn’t it more likely that job candidates will tackle diversity statements the same way they do other application materials

    Ms. Rini, the position you’ve taken here is that woke institutional capture hasn’t been successful because applicants game the process. But this doesn’t make your attempt at institutional capture any less terrible.
    Yes, demanding that candidates first show a dedication to diversity as a cause and incorporate diversity efforts into their professional work IS an attempt to ensure only diversity-minded academics get jobs at universities. Which is institutional capture.

    1. And what would you suggest for someone like me, a mathematics Ph.D. on the autism spectrum, who would only be able to make a generic promise to such dedication? Which, to my understanding, is apparently *not good enough*.

      I have no problem with being inclusive. But I cannot for the life of me describe the intimate details of my experiences with diversity. Oh sure, I have had a lot of students from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds as a graduate TA, but that is all I can say about that.

      I feel like I am expected to have such experiences *and articulate them* right out of the box.

      It’s bad enough that being on the autism spectrum already makes it difficult for me to get my foot in the door of employment. DEI statements just make it even worse for someone like me.

  11. When I applied for a position at the University of California Northridge in the ’60s the only requirement was that I had to state whether I advocated the “overthrow of the government of California by force or violence.” I chose “violence.”

  12. Somehow I don’t think diversity statements come into play when academics in China apply for university positions. And much as modern conformist Chinese society appalls me, (and also no doubt stifles original thinking), if they appoint on merit whilst we appoint according to fictional diversity statements, we can see they won’t need to be stealing original ideas from the west much longer. We won’t have any and they will. Perhaps we will deserve what we will get in that future.

    1. Yeah, in China they only appoint on merit. They would never blackball anyone for speaking out against the Party, it’s members, or it’s policies.

      BTW, you wouldn’t happen to know where Peng Shuai is right now, would you? I’m sure with their focus on professional merit, she’s voluntarily cut all media contact and she’s just practicing somewhere not even her family can reach her.

  13. Imagine the uproar that would occur in academia if job applicants had to fill out a “Free Enterprise Statement”, setting forth all their past activism on behalf of the free market system. Why, even at the height of the supposedly stultifying 1950s with their loyalty oaths, not one major university imposed anything of the kind. It seemed to me (an undergrad in the 1950s) that academic administrations went along with the Red scare only hesitantly, sheepishly, in some embarrassment. Contrast that with the dogmatism and over-reach by today’s communicants of the Church of the holy trinity of D, E, and I, not to mention that new Lysenkoism of the anti-Biology trans lobbyists— and the enthusiasm with which academic administrations fall into line.

    Maybe the 50s passed into the 60s so easily because Conservatism in those days retained classical Liberal principles to a substantial extent, as shown by the number of Republican senators who voted to censure Joe McCarthy, and those who made corresponding public statements. [The GOP has not aged well since those days, to judge from the increasingly demented cult of Trump and his fakery. On the other hand, the Wyoming GOP was split virtually 50:50 in its vote on expelling Representative Cheney,
    and the new book by former New Jersey gov Chris Christie may suggest a wind-shift. ]

    Conversely, we are only just beginning to hear statements from political figures of the conventional Left, and still less from “liberal” administrators, dissociating themselves from the authoritarian tactics and dishonesty of the Church of DEI. I have to say, comparing contemporary academic weasel-words with the forthrightness of Republican Senators like Smith of Maine and Aiken of Vermont back in the 1950s, that the center-Left is not winning any laurels in this arena.

  14. These DEI requirements will just be gamed. Services will emerge to help people craft the right statement with the correct empty jargon and puffery. So yet more administrative headwind for people who just want to be good scholars and academics.

  15. “Further, some schools, like the University of California, often screen applicants based solely on their diversity statements, so if you don’t have a good background in promoting diversity as well as a good plan for promoting diversity at the University and a philosophy of diversity, your application gets tossed without further consideration. That is unconscionable, and puts considerable pressure on the candidates to confect a statement that they think will pass muster.”

    That is very far from all it does. It places pressure on all of the people in the institutions downstream from it to do politically-motivated work — in this case, to spread their particular ideology. It doesn’t just force people to make statements, but to actively create, participate in, and give support to certain political projects, agendas, and ideas. It forces everyone who hopes to ever work for the UoC to build up a long resume pushing those particular politics. It’s totalizing, and it’s a way to spread the “gospel” by forcing people who want jobs to do certain things to promote a certain kind of politics, regardless of whether or not they agree with them.

  16. Let me offer another example of job ad – from serious school published in a serious venue:

    “We especially seek applications from candidates working at the intersection of chemical engineering, social justice and the common good, including research efforts that address anti-racism, inclusion, equity or related topics. ”

    Just imagine future benefits to the society once we replace chemical engineering faculty by social justice engineers…

  17. Professor Coyne*,
    How would you deal with a diversity statement requirement if you were a young scientist applying for a faculty position today? I would really be interested in your thoughts on this, since I will be in the position to apply to such jobs very soon and it poses a moral dilemma that makes me consider to leave academia. “Just make up the stuff they want to hear” doesn’t really cut it for me. Or is this the only way us classical liberals can retain a foothold in the academy?
    I’ve so far managed to go through life without having to confess to believes I do not hold and would like to keep it this way. And we all know that classical liberal, MLK-type believes are not what will get you through an “Initial DEI screening” carried out by a diversity officer worth their critical X studies degree.


    *I’m also interested in hearing other readers’ responses to this.

    1. Good question. I have very little in my c.v. that could be counted as “diversity promoting activities”; not only was this not a thing at the time (I did engage in anti-apartheid stuff), but I spent my postdoc and Ph.D. doing science pretty much all time time. Given this, I don’t know if I’d even be able to get a job these days.

      1. PRECISELY! All of us who devoted our time in graduate study to doing graduate study would not be able to get a job today, at least in the California system. California can look forward to a whole new academic population in chemical engineering, astrophysics, molecular biology, advanced
        mathematics, etc.: individuals whose interest in chemical engineering, astrophysics, molecular biology, advanced mathematics, etc. was secondary to other things—or individuals who are willing to pretend it was.

  18. >”Second, requiring these statements as part of the hiring process encourages candidates to think about diversity as just another marketable skill, something to puff up and cynically stage like everything else in one’s portfolio.” — Rini.

    I hear echoes of this in the calls for doctors to practise “culturally safe care”, which is couched mostly in indigenous terms in Canada. Other “racialized people” are given their due, yes, but health status of indigenous people is so much worse than anyone else’s that the medical schools are striving to “indigenize” themselves. Also because people of other racial groupings all competed to be allowed to come here voluntarily there is an “original sin” wrapped up in colonialism uniquely.

    Here’s the theme I’m getting from the house organ of our regulator. Because I’m retired it doesn’t affect me professionally; I am probably just hitting the high spots in understanding.

    The message starts in a conciliatory, inclusive mood: we all have unconscious biases. That’s OK as long as you accept what the Implicit Association Test says about you and don’t push back by blaming the acknowledged weaknesses of the test instead of yourself. If you sincerely work to re-educate yourself you’re good. Acknowledge that all disparities in health outcomes are due to racial or gender bias displayed by people like you and for God’s sake be careful with those pronouns.

    But not so fast. The goalposts are moving. You (assuming you’re a settler physician) remain a product of colonialism. So don’t get thinking that because you’ve taken diversity training — which could be mandated by the regulator if you were the subject of a complaint –, you are now certified culturally safe. “Acknowledging my implicit bias” lets you off the hook too easily, you racist. You must do more than acknowledge your implicit racism, you must recognize that you aren’t culturally competent and in fact know nothing until your patient tells you what you must know. That’s what you should learn from diversity training. Don’t get thinking you have some special skill or competence about “indigenous people” or “their culture”. That just makes you an arrogant racist likely to provide culturally unsafe care instead of a humble racist. And this threat, unlike a ghost-written diversity statement to upload for tick-off at hiring (or entry to practice?), will follow you all the days of your professional career.

    Upthread the concern was raised that these diversity statements would eventually work their way into the academic promotions process. I’m sure that’s the goal. They are mistaken as they stand because they don’t go far enough. (Nothing is ever far enough.) Disassembling the air conditioner on the desk I think is a metaphor for reassembling it “collegially” so that it works only as a heat pump in winter and won’t cool the room in summer.

  19. I suspect that these DEI requirements are “one size fits all” requirements for any faculty position. It is easy to see that a humanities faculty member might propose teaching a course focusing on minority authors; even better if they have already done this. But I find it difficult to see how this sort of spin could be applied to chemistry or physics. Josiah Willard Gibbs was a white male but it is impossible to teach thermodynamics without the concept of free energy.

  20. I am reminded of what happened in some Muslim universities as reported:

    On page 44 of Islam and Science, Professor Hoodbhoy reports that applicants for science positions at Quaid-e-Azam University were asked

    What are the names of the Holy Prophet’s wives?
    Recite the prayer Dua-e-Qunoot.
    When was the Pakistan Resolution adopted?
    What is the difference between different azan’s [the Islamic call to prayer]?
    What does your [name] mean?
    Give the various names of God.

    Sounds depressingly similar.

  21. I completed a Ph.D. in mathematics. My desire is to teach mathematics. I understand the importance of diversity, and support the idea of being inclusive. I have no love whatsoever of cancerous “racial purity” viewpoints.

    But… I am on the autism spectrum. It is already difficult for me just to get my foot in the door any place with regards to employment. Now I face just one more insurmountable barrier to obtaining employment in my desired field.

    I can describe and explain complex mathematical ideas with precision. But I struggle with discussing the intricacies of social issues. I even struggle with trying to quantify precisely how my Asperger Syndrome affects me.

    In the time I spent immersed in mathematical research, it had never occurred to me that I needed to put in thought into DEI beyond a generic statement of support. Nobody approached me and told me that I needed to dive beneath the surface to understand the nuances of DEI.

    It’s not good enough that I am open to DEI training, I am expected to have knowledge and experience *out of the box*. I am expected to be an expert on the matter.

    It’s the chicken and the egg problem.

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