Enforced orthodoxy in Texas science departments

January 20, 2023 • 11:45 am

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.

Sailer continues:

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.

23 thoughts on “Enforced orthodoxy in Texas science departments

  1. Yes, it’s evident that the societal role of the university as a “think tank” for our country and indeed the world has changed completely into being a brainwashing station. How can the coming brainwashed graduates and postgraduates continue to advance the sciences and arts as their forebears have done? I feel sorry for these future graduates, because their lack of knowledge and skill will cause our society to grind to a halt, and they will probably suffer the most, “Because something is happening here. /But you don’t know what it is. /Do you, Mister Jones?”. I’m afraid that, because we apes tend not to change ourselves unless and until we bottom out, the grinding has to happen before the woke ideology is recognized as a deleterious program.

  2. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate”, says Frink.

    However, on the neostructuralist paradigm, race-as-inclusivity presents a knowledge-capitalistic framework from which critical anti-ideological imperatives become manifest.

    Thus, “recognizing, acknowledging, and rectifying individual conscious and unconscious biases” disrupts the dysconscious narrative and replaces it with a discourse that is neither racist nor neo-imperial, but in fact is a dialectical neoconsciousness.

    [ adjusts turtleneck ]
    [ sips tea ]
    [ has another go at ]
    [ https://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/ ]

    1. Hmmmm.
      Rather the academic equivalent of sitting proudly in a pool of ones own feces, wouldn’t you think?

      1. You know the old joke about philosophy departments :

        All they need a budget for is paper and pencils. Its the math department that needs a higher budget to cover one particular item.

        … (that’s a setup… I set the joke up.. so now it’s someone’s turn for the punchline…)…

  3. It is likely that this is the same John Sailer who wrote (for Tablet) a disturbing piece, several months ago, entitled “Higher Ed’s New Woke Loyalty Oaths”. It is not an easy matter to determine which is the more destructive academic trend, this “enforced orthodoxy” or the assault, at many universities, on freedom of expression.

  4. Won’t this kind of overreach that requires an approved political opinion before your science is even considered for a job, simply trigger a similar excess from the other side? I wouldn’t be surprised that if this gets more press, the very right wing Texas governor and legislature will respond by making any consideration of DEI illegal – in hiring and everything else on campus.

    1. And he wouldn’t be wrong to do so. Any sort of ideological requirement should be rejected. But if Abbott does, he’ll be called a racist for his trouble.

    2. That might help dampen this thing in Texas. Non-private universities rely on critical funding from the state, and at a minimum they could threaten to choke that off. So its a kind of surprise that those depending on that support would do this in a red or purple state.

  5. 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.

    It’s the academic triumph of “It’s better to be nice than right.” Everything you need to know, you learned in Kindergarten.

  6. Young job seekers (like myself) that are being affected by policies like this are counting on the older generations of logical thinkers to assist us in this battle. The reason we are counting on YOU is because we have no power or influence ourselves. We don’t have platforms, we don’t have money, we don’t even have jobs. The only way things are going to change is if YOU (Dr. Coyne et al.) grow a spine and fight for what you believe in (which I would hope is objective truth). Stop being cowards and stand up and fight for truth, fight for logic, and fight for future scientists. Myself (and others) will be by your side, but we need your help. I hope you make the right decision.

    1. Drew, I’m truly sorry this is happening to you. Nobody here wants this. But name-calling the commenters here won’t get you very far. Plus my guess is that something like half of the regulars here are retired like Jerry and have even less influence than you have over these woke initiatives.

      Again I’m sorry this is happening to you. It sucks. People like me with faculty jobs and classic liberal politics are trying to oppose the new orthodoxy. But the truth is we’re vastly outnumbered. At my university I’d guess about two-thirds of faculty members really believe that diversity statements are a good thing, equity and antiracism are the most important goals of the university, trans women really are women, the Kenosha riots were mostly peaceful, and Juicy Smoolyay got a raw deal. Resistance to all this is not exactly futile but it’s not putting a dent in anything important (for example, in spite of good reasons not to do this, we’re going have a cluster hire of 15 black faculty members, which will put the representation of black people on the faculty at about 3 times the proportion of black people in my Canadian province). I hope the situation elsewhere is less dire and that you find a great job.

  7. In “Lysenko and the Tragedy of Soviet Science” (1994), Valery Soyfer recounts how, 20 years and more after Stalin’s death, biology in the USSR was still recovering very slowly from the damage it suffered from the “Michurinism” period of the 1940s-50s. Referring to Lysenko himself, he concludes as follows (my italics). “He lost the capacity for self-criticism and surrounded himself with flatterers. They called him a genius, when he was merely an inspired mediocrity. But he lived in a world where mediocrities had seized power and ruled every sphere of life. The Soviet system had not created mediocrities, but it provided them with the opportunities for power. It invited them into the ranks of scientists and gave them preference in appointments in the institutes and academies…”

    1. This is highly insightful. The purveyors of DEI are, by and large, very dim bulbs compared to the academics they now seem to lord over. Most academics are smarter than the average bear and tend to be attracted to rigorous scholarship for that very reason. Those that are attracted to DEI and admin in general are probably much more pedestrian in cognitive firepower, and may even have some hostility to the talented researchers and professors.

      Unfortunately, one has only so many hours in the day. A very talented scholar is going to spend her time on scholarship, and not climbing up the greasy pole of administration….so the ambitious politically-minded dullard is going to win.

  8. I may be a strong believer in encouraging people from all backgrounds into basically anything and ensuring there is common respect both towards them and from them to others and that may have been what this originally intended but like everything in life it went toxic.

    I respect the basic motive regardless, just maybe not the execution.

  9. The histories by Valery Soyfer and by Zhores Medvedev emphasize a feature of the Lysenkovshchina which is not well understood here. It was not just an instance of top-down repression of academia by Stalin. It began in the 30s, continued in the 40s, as high-stakes academic politics, in which Lysenko & Co. used ideological verbiage as a gimmick to enlist Party-state support. Their ascendancy in the 40s and early 50s—less than two decades—placed in power a generation of academic careerists whose principal talent was fluency in Marxist-Leninist word-salad. Biology in the USSR creeped from under this crippling burden only slowly because of the Soviet equivalent of an academic custom we value in the west—the custom we call tenure. Academia in the US will likely recover equally slowly (if at all) from its current DEIshchina.

  10. So I went to the TTU Dept of Bio Sciences website and looked at a job announcement for an Ass’t Prof tenuretrack in cell biology (https://sjobs.brassring.com/TGnewUI/Search/home/HomeWithPreLoad?partnerid=25898&siteid=5637&PageType=JobDetails&jobid=750174#jobDetails=750174_5637). Neither the required nor preferred qualifications mention dei as far as i can see; it looks like regular bio technical requirements: phd, peer reviewed research record and the like. Dei statement is only mentioned as part of application package under special instructions to applicants. Since the resolution of the diversity committee points out that the dept has zero black or indigenous faculty, it looks like thediversity committee requirements are an add-on to the regularposition requirements that will be evaluated as always for this type of position. At least that is how it looks to me…a tie breaker if you will trying to get some faculty into the dept who look like a majority of the students. Of course i could be totally wrong.

  11. The biggest problem is that major discoveries/achievements in biology will conflict with the principles of DIE, so that scientists who hold accurate views in biology will be regarded as paranoid and fired, who can guarantee those nineteenth century “outdated false theory” won ‘t be confirmed by new evidence? But given decades of academic attempts to dismiss scientists who disagree with biology, calling them bigots and racists.


    today’s It is only a normal development that Those scientists who was participated canceling dissent in the past are purged by their successors for the same reasons.

    As Pinker said, “Biology cannot be racism/sexism”. For most biologists in academia (most of whom hold Enlightenment views), once they find that the results of rational and evidence derivation are confirmation Those opinion traditionally regard racism and sexism as facts, Their first reaction is always to resort to self-blame or blame Scientific method, and this has become a breeding ground for awakening, because Because biological facts are incompatible with the Enlightenment view of human nature There is such a huge contradiction that you either accept biology or you accept Enlightenment value, there is no middle ground. if biology doesn’t discriminate, why can’t people with intellectual disabilities be biologists? We’ve already refused the evidence that women are less suitable scientists, so why can’t rebuttal all the evidence that people with mental disabilities are less suitable scientists follow the same pattern?

  12. So, universities are now hiring reams of administrators for DEI positions (money that should be going to hire people to actually teach the students, among other things). I wonder at what point these administrators will consider that their job is now done, and they can now leave. It’s just going to be self-perpetuating with an increasing spiral of what they can find to complain about next.

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