In case you’re thinking that requiring DEI statements for academic job applicants was a passing fad, well, you’re wrong. They’re only going to get more pervasive. This report from Texas, in particular Texas Tech University, shows that DEI statements are not only mandatory, but primary: they can be used (as they are at UC Berkeley) to weed out candidates who aren’t with the program—people who have Wrongthink about DEI, like saying that “they don’t discriminate at all on the basis of race.” (This is the worst thing you can say in a DEI statement, since they want to discriminate in favor of minority races.)
Click on this piece from City Journal by John Sailer to read it (it’s short, but I refuse to specify a “reading time”). The part that bothers me most is that it applies largely to science departments.
Statements from Saller’s piece are indented.
In 2020, the Department of Biological Sciences at Texas Tech University adopted a motion on “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI), promising to “require and strongly weight a diversity statement from all candidates” during the hiring process. This amounts to a striking statement of priorities.
Many would be surprised to learn that cell biologists and immunologists might be passed up for a job because they were not sufficiently enthusiastic about DEI. But the policy illustrates a trend across Texas universities. Increasingly, a commitment to a vague and often ideologically charged notion of diversity, equity, and inclusion has become an effective job requirement for professors in Texas.
Have a look at his first link above: it goes to a Department of Biological Sciences statement, saying that the department. .
REQUIRES DBS faculty search committees to: i) require and strongly weight a diversity statement from all candidates and provide an evaluation rubric; ii) provide questions to all candidates prior to off‐campus interviews; iii) provide a report to the DBS faculty that includes diversity metrics and a report on the evaluation of the required diversity statements and strategies implemented.
Not only is your fealty required, but it is STRONGLY WEIGHTED. Further, you have to answer questions from the department, and you better answer them in an ideologically approved way!
One more except from Saller’s piece before I pass on:
In September 2021, the Department of Biological Sciences at Texas Tech announced that it was hiring four assistant professors. Faculty members in the department took to Twitter to advertise the new position, emphasizing a unique feature of the application: per its new resolution, the department makes DEI an explicit priority in hiring. The resolution commits to “recognizing, acknowledging, and rectifying individual conscious and unconscious biases.” To that end, it promises to weigh heavily every job candidates’ contributions to the cause, as laid out in mandatory diversity statements.
The department even released a rubric for evaluating diversity statements, which demonstrates the danger of the requirement. Biologists applying to work in Texas Tech must have a specific, well-delineated understanding of DEI, receiving a low score for “[conflating] diversity, equity, and inclusion without distinguishing among them.” They must also espouse an understanding of diversity that focuses on race, gender, and granular intersectionality. The rubric mandates a low score if a candidate shows little “expressed knowledge of, or experience with, dimensions of diversity that result from different identities (for example, intersections between experiences of women scientists and Black scientists).”
Have a look at Texas Tech’s rubric, which evaluates candidates on a 1-5 point scale in three areas: Knowledge about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Track Record in Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Plans for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. (This is similar to Berkeley’s system.)
Your maximum possible score is 15 and your minimum is 3. And by god, you’d better have an extensive record of diversity-advancing records to get the higher score you need to get a job offer. I surely wouldn’t have gotten a job had this system been in place when I was hired. While I was active in political and anti-racist movements as an undergraduate, I had no record of DEI activities in academia.
A DEI evaluation for hiring almost inevitably weeds out candidates on the basis of their political and social views. Someone who opposes, say, racial preferences in admissions or hiring would likely run afoul of the Texas Tech rubric. This is one reason why the Academic Freedom Alliance recently announced its opposition to diversity statements.
But an even more fundamental problem remains. Prioritizing DEI in hiring means downplaying other, more important criteria—most obviously, basic academic prowess. UT–Austin recently released its “Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity,” which charges each college within the university to develop mechanisms for rewarding DEI contributions. How many highly qualified professors will ultimately lose out on promotions or tenure because they chose not to embrace the fad?
The purpose of higher education is to facilitate the pursuit of truth. By prioritizing social goals as a key feature of a professor’s job, diversity statements and evaluations detract from that mission. Alas, the policy is alive and well in Texas.
There is absolutely no doubt that such initiatives turn the traditional system of academic success on its head. You no longer have to be a great scientist to get a job; you have to have a great track record in DEI. And absent that track record, your chance of getting a job, whatever your scientific accomplishments, is nil. Those who say that DEI and merit are not in conflict at all—and those who label initiatives as “inclusive excellence”—are fooling nobody.