On July 23 I wrote about the mishigass going on in California’s community college system (CCC; a government operation since it’s a state system). CCC professors were not only required to swear fealty to a specific version of DEI, but also incorporate Kendian antiracism into their curriculum. That is, they were required to espouse a given ideology, which is compelled speech that’s illegal under the First Amendment. Here’s the requirements that were in place; the quotes are from the WSJ:
“. . . three months ago California Community Colleges, which serves 1.8 million students at 116 campuses, amended its regulations so employees must espouse its tenets of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA). “Faculty members shall employ teaching, learning, and professional practices that reflect DEIA and anti-racist principles,” the regulations say. Schools must “place significant emphasis on DEIA competencies in employee evaluation and tenure review.”
A detailed baseline explanation of that last policy was soon distributed to faculty, including at Bakersfield College. “The DEI competencies provided in this document are meant to define the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that all California Community College (CCC) employees must demonstrate,” it says, according to the copy attached as an exhibit to Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit. Here are a few of the items it lists as markers of success for faculty and staff:
• “Promotes and incorporates DEI and anti-racist pedagogy.”
• “Develops and implements a pedagogy and/or curriculum that promotes a race-conscious and intersectional lens.”
• “Contributes to DEI and anti-racism research and scholarship.”
• “Articulates the importance and impact of DEI and anti-racism as part of the institution’s greater mission.”
• “Advocates for and advances DEI and anti-racist goals and initiatives.”
• “Leads DEI and anti-racist efforts by participating in DEI groups, committees, or community activities that promote systemic and cultural change to close equity gaps and support minoritized groups.”
• “Participates in a continuous cycle of self-assessment of one’s growth and commitment to DEI and acknowledgement of any internalized personal biases and racial superiority or inferiority.”
At the time, I noted that an affected professor, Daymon Johnson at CCC’s Bakersfield College, who opposed these new regulations, was suing with help from the Institute for Free Speech.
But wait: there’s more news of interest to those of us who oppose mandatory DEI statements for college professors (hiring or promotion) or mandates to teach DEI in classes, especially when the topic isn’t relevant. (The regulations above, which are hard-core instantiations of DEI, surely constitute compelled speech and are an unwarranted intrusion of ideology into any college.) Now the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is also suing the CCC system for the same violations, and they’ve found six professors with “standing” to join the suit.
The situation is outlined in their article below; click the screenshot to read:
An excerpt from the August 17 piece:
Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression filed a lawsuit on behalf of six California community college professors to halt new, systemwide regulations forcing professors to espouse and teach politicized conceptions of “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Each of the professors teach at one of three Fresno-area community colleges within the State Center Community College District. Under the new regulations, all of the more-than-54,000 professors who teach in the California Community Colleges system must incorporate “anti-racist” viewpoints into classroom teaching.
The regulations explicitly require professors to pledge allegiance to contested ideological viewpoints. Professors must “acknowledge” that “cultural and social identities are diverse, fluid, and intersectional,” and they must develop “knowledge of the intersectionality of social identities and the multiple axes of oppression that people from different racial, ethnic, and other minoritized groups face.” Faculty performance and tenure will be evaluated based on professors’ commitment to and promotion of the government’s viewpoints.
. . . FIRE is representing professors James Druley, David Richardson, Linda de Morales, and Loren Palsgaard of Madera Community College, Bill Blanken of Reedley College, and Michael Stannard of Clovis Community College. The defendants are California Community Colleges Chancellor Sonya Christian, the State Board of Governors, State Center Community College District Chancellor Carole Goldsmith, and the District Board of Trustees.
A chemistry professor is baffled (and offended) that he has to adhere to these pledges and requirements:
“I’m a professor of chemistry. How am I supposed to incorporate DEI into my classroom instruction?” asked Reedley College professor Bill Blanken. “What’s the ‘anti-racist’ perspective on the atomic mass of boron?”
Of course the woke will explain—and may have already done this in chemistry journals—why it’s essential to teach chemistry from an antiracist perspective, and will tell us how. But this kind of indoctrination doesn’t belong in science—or in any subject taught in college.
FIRE explains why this is illegal:
“These regulations are a totalitarian triple-whammy,” said FIRE attorney Daniel Ortner. “The government is forcing professors to teach and preach a politicized viewpoint they do not share, imposing incomprehensible guidelines, and threatening to punish professors when they cross an arbitrary, indiscernible line.”
. . . An official glossary of terms released by the state makes plain that the “anti-racist” views it mandates are highly ideological. Indeed, the definition for “anti-racism” states that “persons that say they are ‘not a racist’ are in denial.” California declares that “color-blindness,” or the belief that “the best way to end prejudice and discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity,” is itself a problem because it “perpetuates existing racial inequities and denies systematic racism.”
Even a professor saying something as benign as “I grade my class based on merit” is suspect under the regulations. “Merit is embedded in the ideology of Whiteness and upholds race-based structural inequality,” the glossary claims. “Merit protects White privilege under the guise of standards … and as highlighted by anti-affirmative action forces.”
. . . FIRE first expressed concerns with the California regulations when they were proposed in 2022, warning in a public comment that the new rules would “unconstitutionally require faculty to profess allegiance to and to promote a contested set of ideological views.” The response from the chancellor’s office was woefully inadequate, denying that the chancellor or the board of governors could ever violate a professor’s academic freedom. The regulations are now in effect in the State Center Community College District, and FIRE’s clients have already been forced to change their syllabi and teaching materials, lest they face repercussions
Have a look at page 2 of the glossary if you want to see why colorblindness is bad. And here’s their definition of “merit”:
Merit: A concept that at face value appears to be a neutral measure of academic achievement and qualifications; however, merit is embedded in the ideology of Whiteness and upholds race-based structural inequality. Merit protects White privilege under the guise of standards (i.e., the use of standardized tests that are biased against racial minorities) and as highlighted by anti-affirmative action forces. Merit implies that White people are deemed better qualified and more worthy but are denied opportunities due to race-conscious policies. However, this understanding of merit and worthiness fails to recognize systemic oppression, racism, and generational privilege afforded to Whites.
Merit is “embedded in the ideology of whiteness”? And it “implies that White people are deemed better qualifed and more worthy”? That, of course, is total nonsense, but also a recipe for getting rid of merit-based judgements, something that is already happening throughout the country.
But I digress. My view is that while this suit may fail at the state level, it should (and must) be appealed to the Supreme Court, and there it will be overturned, as it must be. This is a prima facie violation of the First Amendment. It’s even worse because the state of California itself prohibits using race-based admission to both private and public colleges, and this has been affirmed by the recent Supreme Court decision. If race can’t be used as an admissions criterion, how can they force it to be used as a promotion and hiring criterion for professors. Worse, how can CCC force professors to swear adherence to it?
Those of us who favor some form of affirmative action (I’m one) think there are other ways to get more diverse student bodies and faculties, like expanding searches and using socioeconomic rather than ethnicity criteria to create diversity. While some have said that socioeconomic criteria for admission, which are legal, won’t lead to a diverse student body, I’m not convinced.