MIT tells prospective faculty how to write a successful diversity statement

November 26, 2022 • 11:45 am

It was inevitable that when universities began requiring diversity statements for prospective faculty, postdocs, and grad students, sites would pop up telling you how to write a good statement.  (Some places will even charge to help you!) This site, from the MIT Communication Lab (click on screenshot below) is fairly extensive, covering not only the format of your 1-2 page statement, but also the content.

Although I was a political activist in college (I’m not going to go through that again), it turns out that there’s no way I could write a statement the way MIT suggests. This means that had this been a critical criterion when I was applying for jobs, I’d be flipping burgers now. Several of my colleagues who have read these requirements have said the same. People would have more burgers, but who would have written a book on speciation?

These DEI statements are often critical. Although the MIT site says this:

A diversity statement alone is unlikely to get you an interview or a job offer, but a well-written diversity statement may enable you to stand out among a large pool of qualified candidates.

. . . in reality, in some places like Berkeley, if your diversity statement isn’t up to muster you have no chance of getting a job, no matter how good your academic qualifications are (see here and here). And since you have to talk about efforts you have made in the past to increase diversity, as well as your philosophy of diversity, you have to start doing social-justice work well before you intend to apply for jobs. Woe to those students who have immersed themselves wholly in quantum mechanics or classical literature out of the love of the field and of knowledge. Without a track record in promoting diversity, as well as a philosophy of diversity, those people are doomed.

I don’t of course object to universities encouraging diversity efforts as a way to “broaden” a candidate, but there are many ways to be broad besides fighting for equity of races and genders. These include doing general outreach to high schools, writing popular books and articles on your field, doing an internship at a newspaper or other organization,, and so on. But those don’t count nearly as much as showing your history of fighting for equity.  And is this attempt to turn universities from places of learning into instruments of specific types of social justice that bothers me. As Stanley Fish said (it’s a book title): “Save the world on your own time.”

And, in the end, DEI statements may be illegal. As my colleague Brian Leiter (a law school prof) pointed out, such required statements, if used to cull candidates, may constitute illegal “viewpoint discrimination”. As he notes:

I recommend that those applying for jobs in the University of California system say only this in the diversity statement:  “I decline to supply this statement which constitutes illegal viewpoint discrimination in violation of my constitutional rights.”   There are already lawyers gearing up to bring legal challenges; I hope they act soon.   If you have been rejected from a University of California search, and suspect it was on grounds of insufficient ideological purity about “diversity,” please get in touch with me.  I can connect you with one public interest legal organization looking for plaintiffs.

But back to the MIT recommendations from this site:

 

Here’s the recommended breakdown of how you should divide your diversity activities and knowledge:

This means you have to have studied DEI extensively, and have a good track record of “advancing DEI”. I’m surprised they don’t recommend a reading list.

Here’s what you need to do (all quotes are indented):

Identify your purpose:

A faculty application diversity statement is NOT a document explaining how you as a candidate are diverse. While it is fine to include personal stories if they have informed how you think about diversity, this should not be the main focus of the statement. Rather, a diversity statement is an opportunity to show that you care about the inclusion of many forms of identity in academia and in your field, including but not limited to gender, race/ethnicity, age, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and ability status.

Note: you have to show how much you care, not about the field itself, but about mentoring and gathering in people diverse not in viewpoint but in disability status, race, gender, age, and so on.

And you better know your onions:

As such, a diversity statement should not focus on your own experience but rather your intentions as a professor. It should demonstrate that you are familiar with the importance of DEI issues, outline your experience working with diverse groups and advancing DEI, and identify ways that you will use your position as a leader in your field to have an impact within your community.

Oy! Where’s the reading list?

Demonstrate knowledge of DEI:

As such, a diversity statement should not focus on your own experience but rather your intentions as a professor. It should demonstrate that you are familiar with the importance of DEI issues, outline your experience working with diverse groups and advancing DEI, and identify ways that you will use your position as a leader in your field to have an impact within your community. . .

Demonstrate experience with DEI:

It is not sufficient to demonstrate knowledge about diversity, equity, and inclusion; your statement should also show experience with them. While this need not be a separate section, your statement should make it clear that you have not only thought about DEI in the abstract but have applied that knowledge and are prepared to continue doing so in the future.

There’s other stuff like “be concrete in your future plans” (you’ll have to do more than say you’ll treat all students with equal effort and respect: that’s a statement that will get your application binned). Rather, you have to be absolutely specific in what you will do to promote equity and inclusivity. This is where MIT is more or less writing the application for you:

Note that specific actions are required; you can’t just say “I’ll treat my students equally, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, age, and so on.” You have to go to orientation and recruitment events, and act somewhat as a psychologist to your students. Nor do I don’t understand the difference between having a lab that’s “inclusive of women” and “striving for gender parity,” but that’s how it works, so you’d better be on board.

Now the advice to be specific in what you’ll do is not so bad, it’s just that they’re prescribing what you should say. This—along with the site’s other advice—is the compelled speech (and belief) that Leiter thinks may be illegal.  Some day we shall see, but to test the legality of DEI statements you need someone to sue who didn’t get a position (presumably because of a faulty statement). And finding someone with that “standing” may be hard. But come it will, and we shall see.

By the way, you can even see a successful example of a diversity statement published on MIT Communications’ web page, with the useful parts highlighted.  It was submitted by an MIT postdoc who got a faculty position at Brown.  Here’s part of it with the good bits coded in different colors: Pink indicates the recommended subheadings.

h/t: Luana

How to write an anti-racist tenure or promotion letter

November 17, 2022 • 1:00 pm

This article is from eLife as well, and I could write reams about it, but I’ll just say a few things. (I bet John McWhorter would have a lot of things to say about this!)

This set of guidelines about how to write a letter to get tenure or promotion for a black (or, in general minority) colleague is about the most patronizing thing I’ve seen, for it assumes that black people (victims of systemic racism in academia, of course) should not be held to the same standards that “white supremacy culture” has fostered. Instead they must be judged by more “holistic” standards that emphasize other things than research quality or traditional measures of academic success. For example, “mentorship” should count a lot more in an anti-racist letter than it does for a traditional letter, though of course all academics are judged by the students they teach and produce (I’m not aware that the temporal burden of “mentorship” or “role model time” is significantly higher for minority than for white faculty, though I’d be glad to see data).

This was written by (their words) a group of “mostly non-Black academics in STEM fields, most of us women, who are learning about and working toward Black liberation in academia.”

Click to read:

A few quotes:

According to Okun, “White supremacy culture is the widespread ideology baked into the beliefs, values, norms, and standards of our groups (many if not most of them), our communities, our towns, our states, our nation, teaching us both overtly and covertly that whiteness holds value, whiteness is value” (https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/what-is-it.html). Whether we are aware of it or not, academic culture is steeped in the beliefs and values Okun associates with ‘white supremacy culture’, including:

  • Perfectionism: the belief that there is ‘one right way’ to do things and a false sense that we can be objective, and that mistakes are personal.

  • Quantity over quality: valuing things that can be measured – publications, grant money – more highly than processes that are harder to quantify (e.g., mentoring relationships, morale).

  • Individualism: de-emphasis of team-work and collaboration and over-emphasis on individual achievement and competition.

  • Defensiveness: a tendency to protect current systems of power at the expense of hearing new ideas; perceiving criticisms as threats.

  • Sense of urgency: an imposed sense of urgency makes it difficult to take time to be inclusive and to reflect on and learn from mistakes, and draws attention away from truly urgent work for racial justice regardless of academic field.

These values are not a necessity in academia. Most of us, having been trained in this culture for years, may not even recognize these invisible but ever-present ‘rules of the game’ despite the fact that these rules limit creativity and inclusion. Naming these values as ones we have adopted makes clear that they are not axioms of academic culture. There are alternatives. Those of us committed to disrupting this implicit and harmful culture have a right and obligation to actively promote an academic community that recognizes and benefits from the expertise of all people who participate in academia. One way to accomplish this on an individual level is to reconsider how we write letters of assessment, including tenure and promotion letters, so that they embody the cultural shift we’d like to see.

This racist and stereotypical characterization of “white culture” is the same kind of stuff that the Smithsonian once posted, but then ditched out of embarrassment.

The aim of these guidelines is to completely change the nature of what’s considered “merit” in academia so that more minority people will qualify as meritorious:

The bulk of a tenure and promotion letter rests on the accomplishments of the candidate. Here, it is vitally important that you name all of the candidate’s accomplishments (Figure 1 middle, box 3). That is, in addition to mentioning traditional scholarship (papers, books, citations, invited talks, grants), you can expand your own – and the readers’ – notion of what a scholarly accomplishment is. For example, you should call attention to: grant applications submitted (and re-submitted), symposia organized, spaces and classes created, leadership and service to the department and academic community, leadership to and education of the community outside of academia, creation of public policy and impact on public health, and participation in public relations or recruiting efforts. When possible, frame this as scholarship rather than service, because many of these achievements reflect the scholar’s standing in the field.

And you must not forget to ad your own critique of systemic racism in the letter of recommenation, just to educate the people who will be reading the letter:

We encourage you to add literature-supported encouragement for evaluators to account for systemic racism in academia (Figure 1 middle, box 6). For example, you can include “Given the known racial disparities in grant funding (Taffe and Gilpin, 2021) and publication rates (Lerback et al., 2020), and the epistemic exclusion of minoritized faculty (Settles et al., 2022),…” to provide context for your statements. It is important here to account for the many interpersonal and institutional barriers experienced by Black scholars, and to critique the devaluation of their work that provides tangible benefits to the university but is often unappreciated (Rodríguez et al., 2015). It may be helpful to explicitly state “even though the evaluation criteria do not consider [service/outreach/etc.], I include my assessment in this area given the vital importance of these contributions to the department and the field, and research on disproportionate service done by scholars of Color.” We recommend emphasizing that achievement in spite of the systemic barriers enhances the value of the scholar’s accomplishments rather than offering such barriers as a rationale for any potential perceived weaknesses.

Umm. . . . this is supposed to be providing an evaluation of a person, not the whole system of academia. It’s to help a person, not change a culture! And I doubt that readers will welcome such attempts to “educate” them.

Further, stuff like this will not help the candidate at all:

To be sure, anti-racist tenure letters may be met with resistance and even backlash by tenure committees, as many academics are (implicitly) committed to maintaining power structures that are familiar to them, and that confer them with outsized power and privilege. We suggest to directly rebut, in your letter, what might traditionally be considered ‘weaknesses’ in the applicant’s file, by explicitly addressing why you do not consider these as weaknesses. This can be done throughout your letter (and we have suggested specific ideas for how to do this in the above recommendations), as well as in an explicit rebuttal paragraph, as we are doing here. Such resistance-anticipating arguments will provide much needed ammunition for other advocates involved in the tenure process at the candidate’s home institution.

There’s nothing that raises more red flags in a letter than a statement like “While Dr. Jones might seem to be weak in his number of publications, this isn’t really a weakness because Jones has spent less time on research than other candidates, as he’s spent much time mentoring students of color and serving as a role model.”  You do NOT call attention to a candidate’s weaknesses in such a way, and then try to excuse them, if you want that candidate promoted or hired.

I can’t help feeling that the drive to drastically change academic standards to achieve “equity” is a backwards approach, and that a better one might be changing the education pipeline so that more minority applicants meet the standards of excellence honed in STEM over decades and decades.

***************

Here’s what the Smithsonian posted on the website of Washington, D. C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. and then took down because it “did not contribute to productive discussion”. I suggest that the essay above has the same effect:

 

Can a person, object, or action be “diverse”?

October 11, 2022 • 12:30 pm

We’ve all learned by now that “diversity”, at least used as a social desideratum, is a code word for “racial or sex diversity”, not simply for the dictionary definition of a “difference in character or quality”.  When a university commits itself, for instance, to “improving diversity”, they are using the first definition rather than diversity in ideology, socioeconomic class, politics, or approaches to an academic subject.

Because the usage above is so common, and we all understand what it means, I have no big quarrel with it. But others do, including liberal people who would simply prefer more clarity in usage. An example of this is the interview of Asad Dhunna (founder of the U.K.-based consultancy firm, The Unmistakables) by Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar in the Harvard Business Review.  Two excerpts before I get to my own beef (it’s Grumpy Old Man Day). The interview is called “Stop saying ‘diverse’ when you mean something else.”  The questions are in bold and Dhunnas’ answers are in plain type:

Let’s talk about the word diverse. Why is it so unhelpful?

We often hear companies say they want to hire diverse employees and create diverse cultures. But what does it really mean when someone says diverse? Are they talking about different genders? Sexualities? Ethnicities? [JAC: Note that ideas or viewpoints aren’t even considered here.]

For instance, BAME (Black, Asian, minority, and ethnic) is a popular acronym used in the U.K., and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) is similarly popular in the U.S. LGBTQ+ is popular worldwide. However, when you look closely, these acronyms simply refer to people who are not white, who are not cisgender, and who are not straight. They end up telling us what we’re not — as opposed to who we really are.

When we frame identities as what they are not, it can reinforce the narrative that these identities are a minority or less than the dominant identity. It creates a feeling of us versus them. . .

Right. It reminds me of a statistic I read in the report. It said around 27% of people feel excluded from conversations around D&I because of their identity. What mistakes are we making — and what should we NOT do? 

Take the term “diversity hire.” Using that word without understanding what it means is a mistake. That word often comes with a loaded social connotation that this person has been hired to simply fill a quota. Even when it’s unintentional, it leads to unconscious biases about this person. Basically, it takes away from the skills, talents, and strengths that this individual brings to work. This kind of microaggression is also why marginalized groups continue to be absent or feel excluded from D&I conversations.

It’s also why being intentional and specific about language is so important. If you want to talk about police brutality against the Black community, say that. If you want to hire more women at work, say that. Your aim should be to center the experiences, struggles, and trauma of a particular community — and not yourself.

You can see that Dhunna is not some kind of bigot, but a “progressive.” Nevertheless, he favors linguistic precision as a way to improve society as well as to avoid stigmatizing people.

I agree with all that, and add the observation that “diversity” as a social goal never means “diversity of ideas or viewpoints”, which of course is what you want in a university. Indeed, equating gender or racial diversity with viewpoint diversity is also patronizing, for it assumes that all the members of one group share a commonality of views. It also leads to the notion that if, say, a black person diverges from a presumed “black” point of view, as does John McWhorter, he’s somehow transgressing. (See Ayanna Pressley’s remark about this issue.)

But here I am digressing, for these are points we’ve discussed before. What I object to is simply the use of “diverse” as an adjective referring to a single person, noun (e.g., “hire) or action. For example, “our department is looking to hire a diverse person”. But one person is not diverse except in the sense that they may do different things at different times—but of course that’s not what is meant.  Another example, with the same ambiguity, is that “we’re doing a diverse search.”

Like Dhunna above, it would pay to be clear about these things. If you are looking for a woman, person of color, or member of a minority group as your “diverse” hire, say so! If you don’t, it seems as if you’re hiding something, or afraid or unable to specify exactly whom you’re looking for. (There may be legal considerations as well.) For all the reasons Dhunna specifies in his answer to the second question above, if your search or need involves a person falling into one or more identifiable groups, say so.

Now much of this may become moot when the Supreme Court gets rid of affirmative action this term, but we’ll still have the usage of  “a diverse” person, which is objectionably ambiguous.

The Atlantic ponders the tension between freedom of speech and inclusivity

June 14, 2022 • 12:45 pm

Conor Friedersdorf has a new piece in The Atlantic that tackles a question that vexes many:  what happens if a university or institution has a free-speech policy but at the same time guarantees an “inclusive and welcoming environment” for everyone?  Now we already know that these two policies will be incompatible in some cases, for some critical speech, say criticizing the tenets of Islam, the “colonialist” policies of Israel, or the principles of Black Lives Matter, will inevitably be perceived as “unwelcoming”—indeed, as “hate speech.” What happens then?

Such a policy used to be in effect at Georgetown University, and resulted in the resignation of legal scholar Ilya Shapiro, who made some hamhanded tweets about Biden’s new pick for Supreme Court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a black woman. These tweets were issued before Shapiro was appointed at Georgetown (which does profess a free-speech policy), so shouldn’t have caused him trouble, but I have to say that they were pretty dire. And yes, offensive.

This is the one that caused all the trouble (he’s since taken it down):

It’s not clear whether Shapiro meant by “lesser” whether black women are inherently poor choices, or that Srinivasan was simply a “greater” choice. Anyway, Shapiro rightfully was called out for it, and apologized:

This is free speech, particularly because the tweets preceded Shapiro’s demonization by Georgetown, which nevertheless launched an investigation of his conduct after he was hired. He was ultimately exculpated, but only on the grounds that he wasn’t a professor when he made the tweets. Still, the university made dark threats that things might be different if Shapiro tweeted like that again.  So he quit, announcing in The Wall Street Journal that he didn’t want to work in a hostile atmosphere. So that was the end of that; he now has a job at the Manhattan Institute, a right-wing think tank.

Well, it’s not quite the end, because in the a new piece in The Atlantic (click to read), Conors Friedersdorf analyzes two aspects of the case that remain.


A. What happens when free speech conflicts with “inclusivity”?  To me the answer is obvious, especially at a school like Georgetown that professes to adhere to free speech principles. Unless the speech is not protected by the First Amendment because of the exceptions carved out by the courts (harassment, production of imminent, predictable violence, defamation, etc.), speech takes priority over people’s offense. (This doesn’t necessarily hold in private universities or corporations, but in most cases it should.)

Further, such discipline isn’t really known to further inclusivity; that’s just an assumption. Any punishment then would be either a deterrent or a form of retribution, neither of which is justifiable. Friedersdorf says:

In recent years, diversity, equity, and inclusion administrators have proliferated across colleges as the “kindly inquisitors” of the “Great Awokening.” These officials are supposed to make sure that people from underrepresented groups feel included on campus. Yet in practice, DEI offices and the deans who supervise them have taken on a dubious enterprise: enforcing leftist speech norms most familiar to highly educated cultural elites. The unspoken assumption is that disciplining a scholar for, say, an offensive tweet will help young people from marginalized backgrounds. It’s an assumption that too many universities simply accept and too few feel any need to study or measure, let alone prove.

The conflict was addressed by Georgetown, but the resolution was ambiguous:

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor declared in a statement that he was guided in the Shapiro matter “by two overarching principles.” The first was the law school’s “dedication to speech and expression,” while “the second and equally important principle was our dedication to building a culture of equity and inclusion.” When free speech and “building a culture of equity and inclusion” are on equal footing, the implication is that, when they conflict, free speech can sometimes lose. Treanor’s formulation leaves employees without any way of knowing exactly where the lines are. If even one ambiguously worded tweet can ostensibly surpass Georgetown’s threshold for harassment—or is deemed to violate professional-conduct policies against offensive or inclusionary speech—an employee risks being disciplined or fired over almost any statement that might offend others.

The ambiguity is deliberate, for it allows the University to do what it wants.

Fortunately, the Foundation for Individual Right and Expression (FIRE) have just announced that Georgetown has resolved the conflict, and—hallelujah!—has given precedence to speech over feelings. It’s done so by adopting a version of the University of Chicago’s Principles of Free Expression—making it the 87th college to do so. From FIRE:

Here is how the new policy statement begins:

The ideas of different members of the University community will often and naturally conflict. It is not the proper role of a University to insulate individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Deliberation or debate may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or ill conceived.

The statement continues:

It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to judge the value of ideas, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting those arguments and ideas that they oppose.

If this language sounds familiar, it should. Georgetown is just the latest institution to adopt a policy that closely mirrors the Chicago Statement. Since its introduction in 2015, FIRE has touted the Chicago Statement as a model free speech policy for universities and colleges across the country.

Taking cues from the Chicago Statement, Georgetown’s new policy goes on to say:

Although members of the University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed by other members of the community, or by individuals who are invited to campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of deliberation and debate, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.

So good for Georgetown, even though FIRE has still given it a “red light” for its speech-code policies since it still has rules in place that inhibit free expression.

Finally, and to Friedersdorf’s main point:

B. Who should formulate the rules for speech and behavior? As the subtitle says above, “overzealous administrators” often make the rules and punish faculty and students, while Friedersdorf says that the faculty should drive out the “overzealous administrators,” which include the DEI bureaucracy and all the other administrators involved in making arcane rules designed to create an atmosphere of in loco parentis. As we know, this group is growing far faster than the number of faculty or students. Friedersdorf’s recommendation, which is really only a small part of his story, is this:

Universities should operate according to scholars’ values, not bureaucrats’ subjective judgments. And my correspondence with Georgetown professors indicates both significant disagreement with administrators and a dearth of clarity about what speech—in practice—might get them investigated or punished.

To fix this problem at Georgetown and elsewhere, faculty need power to protect free speech. At present, sanctions in higher education flow in one direction: Diversity bureaucrats exert control over faculty members whose speech allegedly undermines inclusion. I propose giving faculty the power to investigate, sanction, and fire diversity officials if they undermine free speech. Administrative abuses will continue as long as bureaucrats can punish speech, even in flagrant violation of university policy, without any consequences.

This is pretty much the situation at the University of Chicago, but we still suffer from administrative bloat.  Now I don’t think we should do away with DEI administrators completely, for, after all, they have a job that’s vital for the university, and one that no professor would want to do. Diversity needs to be both promoted and protected. That said, I agree with Friedersdorf that the faculty and not the administration should make the rules relevant to education, which includes speech and diversity issues. The rest of the administration should be running the institution, making sure it functions physically and financially. While DEI can investigate cases, the rules by which they do this, or regulate speech, must be made by the faculty itself. After all, the purpose of the university is teaching and learning, a purpose summed up by the University of Chicago’s famously young President:

The object of the educational system, taken as a whole, is not to produce hands for industry or to teach the young how to make a living. It is to produce responsible citizens. — Robert Hutchins
These aims are best achieved by having the academic, speech, and behavior rules made by faculty, not administrators.  Why? Because, I think, the faculty ponders these issues more deeply than the administration, and have been trained in law, philosophy, and ethics, not “critical studies”. After all, Chicago’s foundational principles of the Kalven Report and the Chicago Principles of Free Expression, regarded as the gold standards for college speech regulation, were both concocted by faculty committees, not administrators.

 

h/t: Carl

DEI statements for hiring: can they be made legal?

May 30, 2022 • 1:30 pm

As you know, DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) statements are increasingly required by colleges and universities for both hiring and promotion of faculty. And for a long time my law-school colleague Brian Leiter has argued that they should not be used, as hiring or promotion based on them constitutes illegal “viewpoint discrimination” by deep-sixing candidates that don’t have the “right ideological views.”

Leiter’s most prominent argument against the use of these statements, and one that is cited often, is his piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) two years ago, “The Legal Problem with Diversity Statements.” His objection is this:

. . . some universities and departments are using scores on the diversity statement to make the first cuts in faculty searches. That would not be objectionable if it were only a device for weeding out candidates unwilling to work with a diverse student body: The ability to do so obviously goes to the core of a faculty member’s professional duties. The problem is that the new diversity statements go well beyond that, requiring candidates to profess allegiance to a controversial set of moral and political views that have little or no relationship to a faculty member’s pedagogical and scholarly duties.

I agree with him; it’s a form of sneaking ideology into the hiring and promotion process. To succeed we all know what we have to say, and it certainly isn’t “I have and will treat all undergraduates equally, regardless of who they are.” Nevertheless, the requirements for these statements are not only proliferating, but the weeding-out process, used most prominently by the University of California, is being used to cull those who don’t agree with the progressive view of DEI. Even here I’ve heard dark rumors that such statements are being used to cull those with unacceptable ideological views, but I don’t know for sure.

At any rate, there’s a new article in the CHE by Brian Soucek, a law professor at the University of California at Davis, that argues the feasibility of using DEI statements legally. (By so arguing this he admits that there are legal problems with these statements from the get-go, problems like those raised by Leiter.) The problem is that by rendering the statements legal, Soucek also removes the rationale for why many academics really want them: to assure that faculty conform to “a controversial set of moral and political views.”

Click to read:

You can see how the DEI statements must, according to Soucek, be “made legal”: by showing that they don’t violate academic freedom or constitute compelled speech because they do indeed require criteria necessary for a specific academic job. Further requirements for “legalization” mean ensuring that those judgments be made by the relevant scholars, not by administrators or diversity experts. Soucek:

Critics need to do more than point out that faculty are potentially getting judged on their viewpoints. What matters constitutionally is whether the views being judged are relevant to the position in question. One consequence: Prompts and rubrics that look for the same kinds of contributions to diversity no matter the job or discipline are less likely to be constitutional than those better tailored to the position at issue.

And indeed, for most academic jobs, specific commitments to forms of diversity are not relevant. Anything in science, and in most humanities jobs, are off the table; no specific views on diversity are crucial for performing those jobs well.

So who makes the requirements? Soucek:

. . . .So when critics call mandated diversity statements “an affront to academic freedom,” their accusations hit their target if and only if someone other than disciplinary experts are setting the terms by which faculty members are judged. For example, if the rubrics used to evaluate diversity statements are imposed by administrators top-down and university-wide, academic-freedom worries are going to compound the potential viewpoint discrimination concerns that arise when evaluative criteria aren’t tailored to the job at hand.

But of course nearly all such requirements come from the University, and must adhere to University standards and wording, futher rendering the statements irrelevant.

Soucek adds that there’s nothing wrong with compelled speech, and supports that by giving some ludicrous examples that are irrelevant to Leiter’s Constitutional concerns. Soucek:

Critics often say that public universities, bound as they are by the First Amendment, can’t discriminate against students and employees based on their viewpoints. This just isn’t true. Like most professors, I engaged in rampant viewpoint discrimination when I graded my student’s exams this month. (For example, if a First Amendment student expressed the view that viewpoint discrimination is always unconstitutional at public universities, I would lower their grade.) Hiring and tenure review both require judgments by applicants’ disciplinary peers about the quality of the conclusions reached in their scholarly work. And surely when a university hires someone to run an asylum clinic, or to direct its program on entrepreneurship, it can reject an immigration restrictionist for the former search, but not the latter, and favor someone who is pro-capitalism for the latter search, though not the former.

Soucek is a law professor, for crying out loud, and should know the difference between judging someone based on whether they’ve met the criteria for the job (or gotten decent grades) or whether extraneous political views are being tacked on for ideological reasons.

Leiter takes apart Soucek’s article in a short post on his philosophy website Leiter Reports. An excerpt from Leiter’s rebuttal:

Soucek  complains that critics “assum[e] rather than argu[e] that DEI contributions are not part of the job description for most academics,” quoting my observation that diversity has “little or no relationship to a faculty member’s pedagogical and scholarly duties.”  Soucek omits, however, that I was explicitly criticizing Berkeley’s diversity requirement, according to which a job applicant’s diversity statement would get a low score if s/he “describes only activities that are already the expectation of Berkeley faculty (mentoring, treating all students the same regardless of background, etc.).” In other words, Berkeley’s diversity requirement explicitly distinguished a commitment to the diversity ideology from a faculty member’s other pedagogical duties.

Soucek suggests Berkeley and other UC campuses can avoid legal problems as long as diversity requirements represent “criteria experts within the discipline conscientiously judge to be relevant to the job.”  That point would rule out most university requirements of diversity statements, which are administratively imposed.  If different departments can genuinely decide on their own if actions in support of “diversity” (as distinct from the usual pedagogical duties of faculty, such as “treating all students the same regardless of background” as Berkeley put it) are relevant to the job, and if their disciplinary peers at other universities concur, then Soucek may be right that academic freedom protects such a decision.

Suppose, however, members of the economics discipline decided that actions in support of “capitalism” were “relevant to the job.”   Does that mean economics departments at public universities could exclude candidates who do not demonstrate in practice their commitment to capitalism?  One hopes that the courts would see through this pretextual form of viewpoint discrimination.

If you’re in academia, and able to see how these statements are being used, it’s clear that they are aimed at weeding out candidates who don’t conform to progressive Leftist ideology on race or gender (adherence to “structural racism/sexism” and so on).  Needless to say, I agree with Leiter: it only weakens academics when departments in which adherence to a specific DEI requirements are irrelevant are still forced to adhere to those requirements. I’m surprised that the University of California has gotten away with these shenanigans, and I smell a lawsuit approaching from the wings.

One again: Diversity training doesn’t work, ditto with microaggression training, implicit bias training, or any mandatory DEI training

January 16, 2022 • 11:00 am

This is not from some crackpot site, as you’ll have heard of Real Clear Science and know that it’s legit. But if you have questions about the author’s contentions, he gives a list of references supporting each one at the site (click on screenshot below to read).

Note that the article is from late 2020, so if you know of more recent references that overturn al-Gharbi’s contentions, by all means put them in the comments. The author, by the way, is a is a Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow in Sociology at Columbia University, and I fear for his future! Sometimes telling the truth gets you severely damaged in today’s political climate.

Now I doubt that there are many schools or big companies that don’t offer diversity training—mandatory or otherwise—with many having units on microaggressions and implicit bias training as well as DEI training.  The year-old data show that none of these is effective in reducing bias; in fact, they can be counterproductive, increasing bias, resentment, or divisiveness.  In this way, DEI training is mainly performative.

Why, then, are these courses still on ta?  I think the answer is obvious: universities and companies need to show that they’re doing something, about the issue du jour, so what better way to demonstrate that your heart’s in the right place than to hire consultants to “train” your people. Sadly, the heart may be (and usually is) in the right place, but the head is not.

Now the author has previously discussed—and endorsed—viewpoint diversity in universities, so he’s not an appointment of that kind of diversity. The question that arises is whether viewpoint diversity is best expressed as assuming homogeneous viewpoints of a given gender, sex, or ethnic group.  I won’t get into that, as you can read al-Gharbi’s piece on this issue. But I don’t think anybody would contest the notion that having a diversity of views in a university is a good thing. That’s assumed in every argument for freedom of speech.

The question in this article is whether such a diversity is actually promoted by various forms of DEI training. All I’ll do is list al-Gharbi’s contentions and let you know that there is a longish list of references adduced to support each contention.

I’ve put the contentions in bold and everything that’s a quote is indented.

1.) Historically, many rationales for diversity training have proven, upon later analysis, to not work very well.  

Three references are given for this claim

2.) Training is generally ineffective. 

The stated goals of these training programs vary, from helping to increase hiring and retention of people from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups, to eliminating prejudicial attitudes or behaviors to members of said groups, to reducing conflict and enhancing cooperation and belonging among all employees. Irrespective of the stated goals of the programs, they are overwhelmingly ineffective with respect to those goals. Generally speaking, they do not increase diversity in the workplace, they do not reduce harassment or discrimination, they do not lead to greater intergroup cooperation and cohesion – consequently, they do not increase productivity. More striking: many of those tasked with ensuring compliance with these training programs recognize them as ineffective (see Rynes & Rosen 1995, p. 258).

Eight references are given for this claim.

3.)  Training often reinforces biases.

By articulating various stereotypes associated with particular groups, emphasizing the salience of those stereotypes, and then calling for their suppression, they often end up reinforcing them in participants’ minds. Sometimes they even implant new stereotypes (for instance, if participants didn’t previously have particular stereotypes for Vietnamese people, or much knowledge about them overall, but were introduced to common stereotypes about this group through training intended to dispel said stereotypes).

Other times, they can fail to improve negative perceptions about the target group, yet increase negative views about others. For instance, an empirical investigation of ‘white privilege’ training found that it did nothing to make participants more sympathetic to minorities – it just increased resentment towards lower-income whites.

Encouraging people to ignore racial and cultural differences often results in diminished cooperation across racial lines. Meanwhile, multicultural training — emphasizing those differences — often ends up reinforcing race essentialism among participants. It is not clear what the best position between these poles is (such that these negative side effects can be avoided), let alone how to consistently strike that balance in training.

Six references are given for this claim

4.)Training Can Increase Biased Behavior, Minority Turnover

Many diversity-related training programs describe bias and discrimination as rampant. One unfortunate consequence of depicting these attitudes and behaviors as common is that it makes many feel more comfortable expressing biased attitudes or behaving in discriminatory ways. Insofar as it is depicted as ubiquitous, diversity-related training can actually normalize bias. . . .

Eight references are given for this claim

5.) Training Often Alienates People from High-Status Groups, Reduces Morale

Diversity-related training programs often depict people from historically marginalized and disenfranchised groups as important and worthwhile, celebrating their heritage and culture, while criticizing the dominant culture as fundamentally depraved (racist, sexist, sadistic, etc.). People from minority groups are discussed in overwhelmingly positive terms, while people from majority groups are characterized as typically (and uniquely) ignorant, insensitive or outright malicious with respect to those who are different than them. Members of the majority group are told to listen to, and validate, the perspectives of people from historically marginalized or disadvantaged groups — even as they are instructed to submit their own feelings and perspectives to intense scrutiny.

In short, there is a clear double-standard in many of these programs with respect to how members of dominant groups (typically men, whites and/or heterosexuals) are described as compared to members of minority groups (i.e. women, ethnic/ racial minorities, LGBTQ employees). The result is that many members from the dominant group walk away from the training believing that themselves, their culture, their perspectives and interests are not valued at the institution – certainly not as much as those of minority team members — reducing their morale and productivity.

Five references are given for this claim

6.) Implicit bias training doesn’t work.

Implicit attitudes are one of the most commonly relied-upon constructs in contemporary diversity-related training. However, there are severe problems with these constructs – as hammered home by meta-analysis after meta-analysis: it is not clear precisely what isbeing measured on implicit attitude tests; implicit attitudes do not effectively predict actual discriminatory behavior; most interventions to attempts to change implicit attitudes are ineffective (effects, when present, tend to be small and fleeting). Moreover, there is no evidence that changing implicit attitudes has any significant, let alone durable, impact on reducing biased or discriminatory behaviors. In short, the construct itself has numerous validity issues, and the training has no demonstrable benefit.

Five references are given for this claim

7.) Training to avoid “microaggressions” doesn’t work.

. . . However, although the microaggressions framework goes back to 1974, there is virtually no systematic research detailing if and how microaggressions are harmful, for whom, and under what circumstances (indeed, there is not even robust conceptual clarity in the literature as to what constitutes a microaggression). There is no systematic empirical evidence that training on microaggressions has any significant or long-term effects on behavior, nor that it correlates with any other positive institutional outcomes.

In fact, when presented with canonical microaggressions, black and Hispanic respondents overwhelmingly find them to be inoffensive – and we have ample reason to believe that sensitizing people to perceive and take greater offense at these slights actually would cause harm: the evidence is clear and abundant that increased perceptions of racism have adverse mental and physical consequences for minorities. In short, not only is there no evidence that training on microaggressions is valuable for improving the well-being of people from historically marginalized or disadvantaged groups, there is reason to believe it could actually be counter-productive to that end.

Two references are given for this claim, one written by the author

8.) Mandatory Training Causes Additional Blowback

Although diversity-related training programs are generally ineffective, and often bring negative side-effects, they tend to work better (or at least, be less harmful) when they are opt-in. Mandatory training causes people to engage with the materials and exercises in the wrong frame of mind: adversarial and resentful. Consequently, mandatory training often leads to more negative feelings and behaviors, both towards the company and minority co-workers. This effect is especially pronounced among the people who need the training most.  Yet roughly 80% of diversity-related training programs in the U.S. seem to be mandatory.

If an institution is going to include diversity-related training, it should offer it as a resource for those who want to learn more. . .

Seven references are given for this claim

9.) Training Comes at the Expense of Other Priorities

We are in a period of educational austerity. Creating, implementing and ensuring compliance with diversity-related training programs is expensive. In a world where these training programs consistently advanced diversity and inclusion goals within an organization, or enhanced intergroup cooperation and overall productivity, then these costs could be justified – even during a time of belt-tightening. However, it’s a different dynamic when the training is typically ineffective or even counterproductive. Worse, it often crowds out much more substantial efforts that could be undertaken to actually enhance diversity and inclusion within institutions.

Now the last point is moot if the others be true, so it’s not really necessary to discuss it.

About more recent findings, all I can say is that I’ve paid attention to the literature, and haven’t seen these nine conclusions overturned at all. In fact, they seem to have been supported even more strongly. But this raises one questions beyond, “why are so many companies and universities doing it, then?” (Another answer beyond “it makes them look good” is to lessen their legal liability in bias cases. But if training doesn’t work, how much liability does that lessen?)

The question is this: “What do we do, then?”

This presumes there is indeed a problem of racial tension and a problem of racism in companies and universities.  I don’t think anyone can deny that. Whether the racism is “structural”—built into the system—is in most cases dubious, but every organization has racism because every organism has racists. The question then becomes, “if this is a serious problem, how do we defuse it?”

My own way of phrasing the relevant question is “How do we reduce the divisiveness and mutual antipathy between groups?”

I am no expert here, but suggest a few things:

a.) DO NOT create and enforce speech codes, and DO NOT, for the reasons stated above, enforce bias training. For bias training all too often turns out to be ideological brainwashing, setting group against group.

b.) DO create discussions about the First Amendment for entering students to take. (And push for a Kalven-like amendment in your school.)

c.) DO NOT separate groups by creating “affinity housing” or any such segregated institution (graduations included) that is gender- or race-specific.  In fact, try to bring people together, but not to discuss their differences or to air grievances. It may be my kumbayah attitude, but I feel that the more experience people have with each other, the more they apprehend and appreciate their common humanity. As the old song from “South Pacific” goes “You have to be carefully taught.”  DEI training is a form of careful teaching that sets group against group.

d.) DO NOT racialize everything. It is divisive and does not serve to create a community of supportive people.

e.) Create a supportive network for individuals based on their personal issues. One way is therapy, and there is a case to be made to have gender- or race-sensitive therapists on tap.

This program won’t endear me to many, I know, but if the present practices aren’t working, we have to think of others. Not just think of them, either—we have to see if they “work” by achieving the goals they’re supposed to achieve. As far as possible, interventions should be empirically supported.

Oh, and about inequities: differences in representation of groups that, to a Kendi-an, are prima facie evidence of bigotry. That’s a much more complicated issue that I’ve discussed before and will take up again some time. But not today!

Canadian government denies McGill professor grants on the grounds that his mandatory DEI statements describe color-blind hiring based on merit

November 26, 2021 • 10:15 am

Here’s a renegade scientist described by Canada’s conservative National Post, which must love articles like this.  It is the tale of a person of color—Patanjali Kambhampati, an Indian physical chemist at McGill University who seems quite accomplished. He works on “quantum dots“, which are tiny semiconductors, has published 132 papers, on many of which he was first author, and has an “h index of 37”, which means he’s published 37 papers that were each cited 37 times or more. (The higher the index, the more widely you’ve been cited.)

One other relevant fact besides his scientific quality: he’s been subject to racism since he moved to North America from India at age four. He reports that he’s been verbally harassed, beat up constantly, and has been “harassed by U.S. border guards and racially profiled in Canada, too.”

But his scientific quality, his “person of colorhood”, and his oppressed past haven’t helped him get grants from the Canadian government. Why? Because he refuses to write the kind of woke diversity statement that the Canadian grant authorities demand.

Click on the screenshot to read:

Kambhampati has been turned down for his last two grants because of insufficient diversity statements, which are mandatory. And in Canada, if you don’t past muster with that statement, your grant gets canned without even being evaluated for scientific merit. I quote from the article, and I’ve put his terse diversity statement in bold:

Patanjali Kambhampati, a professor in the chemistry department at Montreal’s McGill University, believes the death knell for the latest grant was a line in the application form where he was asked about hiring staff based on diversity and inclusion considerations. He says his mistake was maintaining that he would hire on merit any research assistant who was qualified, regardless of their identity.

“I’ve had two people say that was the kiss of death,” said Kambhampati. “I thought I was trying to be nice saying that if you were interested and able I’d hire you and that’s all that mattered. I don’t care about the colour of your skin. I’m interested in hiring someone who wants to work on the project and is good at it.”

Kambhampati said he didn’t go public after the first grant was rejected but decided to speak out now because the increasing use by the government of equity, diversity and inclusion, aka “EDI,” provisions, as well as woke culture, are killing innovation, harming science and disrupting society.

“I believe this is an important stand to make. I will not be silenced anymore,” he said.

It is the kiss of death, for prizing merit above race, but being color-blind in your hiring (the now-outmoded view of Dr. King), is not the way to succeed. To get these grants, I’m assuming that your diversity statement has to including some affirmative action, which means elevating members of oppressed minorities above those whose indices of merit used by the school are higher.

As I’ve said, I believe in some forms of affirmative action in hiring, but I do not believe in diversity statements, for they are forms of compelled speech to which you must adhere, and Kambhampati didn’t. He paid the price. What’s even worse than diversity statements. though, is evaluating them as the first step in the grant-giving process, and then deep-sixing your application if the diversity statement isn’t up to snuff.

Like Dorian Abbot at the University of Chicago, Kambhmpati believes in hiring solely on merit.  While I don’t adhere to that 100%, I adhere to it more than I do to the Canadian or University of California hiring systems, which use the DEI statement as a first-step “up or out” gateway to funding.

Because both applications were rejected at the bureaucratic level, it means that neither proceeded to the step where they would be forward to other scientists to review Kambhampati’s proposals.

But Kambhampati said he believes basing his hiring decisions on merit is a valid, moral position to hold.

“I think what’s happened is the woke and the social justice warriors have made a moralistic argument the way the religious right used to make moralistic arguments. And now people are afraid to challenge them. But I think it’s okay to say I believe that equality is a morally valid position. I believe that meritocracy is a morally valid position.”

The salt in his wound is the huge funding that Canada recently gave for a dubious project on preventing cancer using “indigenous healing practices” (for more on that, see the news section in this recent post of mine).  The National Post says this:

Around the same time that Kambhampati’s latest application was turned down, another arm of the government, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, gave Dr. Lana Ray, a professor at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., a $1.2-million grant to study cancer prevention using traditional Indigenous healing practices. When the award was announced, Ray said “We need to stop framing prevalent risk factors of cancer as such and start thinking about them as symptoms of colonialism.”

As I said, Canada is woker than the United States. In terms of DEI statements and hiring they’re about equal, but to me Canadians seem more timorous about standing up to metastasizing Wokeism. Kambhampati did, but he’ll pay the price, because without outside funding, you can’t do experimental science.

UC Irvine Vice Chancellor retracts and apologizes for his official pronouncement on the Rittenhouse verdict

November 23, 2021 • 9:15 am

The other day I posted a statement by the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and “Chief Diversity Officer” of the University of California at Irvine, who took it upon himself to make an official pronouncement about, and criticism of, the “not guilty on all charges” verdict given to Kyle Rittenhouse. Just to remind you, here’s the statement that Vice Chancellor Douglas Haynes issued to the entire UCI community:

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse versus the State of Wisconsin concluded earlier today. The jury returned not guilty on all five counts of the original indictment (a sixth count was previously dismissed by the judge), including the murder of two people and the wounding of a third on August 25 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The relief of the Rittenhouse family in this verdict was met by the heavy burden of the families mourning the absence of loved ones and the continuing trauma of the lone survivor.

The conclusion of this trial does not end the reckoning about systemic racism in the United States. If anything, it has simply made it more legible. Kyle Rittenhouse did not live in Wisconsin, but in Antioch, Illinois. He traveled to Kenosha during protests against police violence in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake while in police custody. Blake was shot seven times in the back. The Kenosha event continued protests in response to the killings of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in St. Louis on March 13, 2020 in Louisville. These multi-racial protests were grounded in a call for racial justice and the end of police brutality. Rittenhouse imposed himself on the protests in Kenosha. His assistance was not requested. It was as much about resisting the calls of protestors as it was to defend property and render first aid.

For this reason, the verdict conveys a chilling message: Neither Black lives nor those of their allies’ matter.

UCI will continue its whole university approach to recognizing and responding to anti-Blackness as an existential threat to our mission as a public research university. Learn more on the UCI Black Thriving Initiative website.

I described why this statement, and similar statements making debatable political, ideological, or moral pronouncements should not be made officially by universities or colleges—either by administrators, departments, or other units of the school. (Such statements should be made privately and emphasized as the personal opinion of individuals.) It has to do with chilling of speech, which has to do with freedom of speech, and you can read more about my views at the original post. The rationale for prohibiting such statements is embodied in the University of Chicago’s “Kalven Report”, passed in 1967.

Well, apparently I’m not the only person who objected to Haynes’s statement, and he has now apologized for what he said—in effect retracted it. It’s not a lame apology either: he admits what he did wrong and says that it’s “uncomfortable and embarrassing to him”. Reader Michael posted it on the original thread, and I’ve now verified that this is a real statement.

Dear campus community,

Last week I shared my reflections on the announcement of the Rittenhouse verdict. Like the national conversation, my message generated a range of reactions and responses. As a university leader and educator, I would be remiss if I did not consider and reflect on this input. Listening is a critical skill that is important to our mission as a great public research university and valued by the many communities that we serve. Here, I want to acknowledge to the UCI community that I am listening.

Two criticisms stand out about my message. I appeared to call into question a lawful trial verdict. I also forced a relationship between the specific facts of the case to the unique dimensions of the racial reckoning in the United States. These criticisms are valid. While uncomfortable and embarrassing, I acknowledge and apologize for these mistakes. I prepared this message out of a desire to emphasize the importance of listening and learning as our society continues to face critical issues that challenge us.

I look forward to our continued campus dialogues in pursuit of inclusive excellence.

Sincerely,

Douglas M. Haynes, Ph.D. (Pronouns: he/him/his)
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer
Director, ADVANCE Program
Professor of History

I have two things to say about this. First, Haynes left out the most important part of the apology, which was to say “I am sorry for making an official political statement as a representative of the University of California at Irvine.”  Irvine, like all schools that purport to allow freedom of speech, have to buttress that by another stricture saying that Universities should not suppress or chill speech by making their own statements on politics or ideology.

Second, I don’t think Haynes is telling the truth when he says “I prepared this [presumably the first] message out of a desire to emphasize the importance of listening and learning as our society continues to face critical issues that challenge us.” I think he prepared the message as a sign of personal and institutional virtue signaling, and to show that he objected to the Rittenhouse verdict. There is nothing in his original statement that says its purpose was to emphasize listening and learning!

Despite these beefs, I’ll take the statement, as it’s better than nothing. Someone should send Haynes the Kalven Report, and all free-speech universities should adopt a version of it. In fact, I’m going to do that now.

 

_____________

UPDATE: I sent Dr. Haynes this email and enclosed our Kalven Report.

Dear Dr. Haynes,

I’ve been following your statement about the Rittenhouse verdict and your apology for issuing it, and I want to congratulate you for having the courage to admit when you made a misstep. Further, your apology was not hedged: it was honest and straightforward.

Here at the University of Chicago we have a policy embodied in the Kalven Report stipulating that no university administrator or department can make official pronouncements on ideology, politics, and morality, and I enclose a copy. The reason we do this is that the Kaven Report buttresses our Chicago Principles of Free Speech. If departments, units of the University, or administrators make such official statements, it leads to chilling of free speech: what untenured faculty member or student would dare take issue with an official university statement on, say, politics, or even the Rittenhouse trial?  I really do think that more colleges and universities should adopt statements like the Kalven Report, and I urge you to read it; it’s short and (like your apology) to the point.

I wish you good luck in your endeavors.

Cordially,
Jerry Coyne
Professor Emeritus
Dept. Ecology & Evolution
The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago nixes required diversity statements for hiring

November 12, 2021 • 10:45 am

I’ve written several posts about why diversity statements should not be required nor suggested for candidates from applying for a job (or promotion) in academia, but should be prohibited. This is not because I oppose increasing diversity in hiring (I’m in favor of it), but because these statements are a form of compelled speech, in which you must tender certain approved ideological views to be seriously considered for a job.  These statements are, of course, a way to increase the ethnic diversity of a faculty, but in my view there are better ways.

As I wrote in April of last year:

. . . the mandatory “diversity statements” now required by the University of California [will] soon be required on campuses elsewhere. These statements are used to weed out candidates for academic jobs before their academic credentials are even assessed, and they require candidates to do three things: they must express their philosophy of diversity, they must recount their past efforts to promote diversity, and they must describe their plans to increase diversity at the UC campus where they’re applying.

Just saying you’re in favor of diversity is not enough. You have to have that track record and you have to have a credible plan to promote diversity (“diversity” refers, of course, to gender and racial diversity, not socioeconomic, religious, or political diversity). Asserting that you’re in favor of diversity, and will treat all students as equals, is not sufficient—your application will get tossed. At Berkeley and Santa Cruz, for instance, the applications are scored by committees, not the relevant departments, and you’re given points for each of the three parts. If your points don’t exceed a specified threshold, your candidacy is stopped in its tracks.

I’ve been opposed to these statements on several grounds, including the insupportable requirement that faculty adhere to a particular ideological position (you cannot, for example, be opposed to affirmative action, or even take Dr. King’s view that someone is to be judged by the content of their character rather than their pigmentation). Further, faculty who have done outreach in other ways besides promoting diversity (e.g., writing popular articles, lecturing on their field to secondary-school students, and so on) get no credit for that, and their applications are discarded. As I wrote in February, while I favor affirmative action, I oppose these ideological purity tests. . . .

If you favor some affirmative action to diversity your faculty’s ethnicity, the last thing you want to do is choose candidates that adhere to a favored ideology.  My own view would be to consider ethnicity itself as a desirable characteristic in hiring, though I know some readers will consider that “reverse racism.” Nevertheless, in his essay for the Chronicle of Higher Education below, my colleague Brian Leiter recommends that, if you want to increase diversity, you use the rationales of reparations for previously oppressed groups as well as creating more role models. I agree with those views. But compelling speech (and don’t think for a moment that those requesting diversity statements are open to all ideologies), especially in public universities, is not the way to do it.  It’s illegal, though it hasn’t yet been contested in court.

Click on the screenshot to read Brian’s piece:

I wanted to find out whether the University of Chicago required diversity statements for its hires, and so I made inquiries.  One of my colleagues helpfully emailed an administrator (I don’t have the guts to do that!) and got a response. The short answer is, no, we don’t require them and it is in fact against University policy to require them—or any other non-academic attestation. With the permission of the administrator, I quote his/her email response with permission. The bolding is mine:

Our guidelines on faculty cases is attached (a slightly older version is on the web here). Although units (Divisions, Schools, and the College) are given leeway to build convincing cases for faculty appointments according to their norms and traditions, we do expect units to operate under the guidelines that we’ve created, based on the Shils Report and decades of provostial practice. We also operate under the usual rule of statutory construal, “expressio unius est exclusio alterius”: “the expression of the one is the exclusion of the other”. That is, our list of elements that need to be included in a case file is exhaustive. [JAC: See below for the University’s “list of elements.”)
Some policies are recorded only in provostial internal memos, but all are reflected in the written guidelines and in our office’s guidance to deans, who we encourage to ask us whenever questions of implementation or clarity arise.
To date, no search committee or chair or dean has asked to be allowed to solicit statements from candidates re academic freedom, freedom of expression, democracy, capitalism, or other important values of the University and/or societal elements that have allowed the University to flourish. Our policy does not permit the solicitation of such statements. The principle here is that we should not solicit materials unless we can articulate how we intend to assess those materials. For the usual materials (cv, statements of research and teaching, research publications), we have well developed traditions that guide our understanding of excellence. For anything else, the University would have to give uniform guidance regarding the assessment of materials, and this guidance has not yet been developed.

The second statement in bold would seem to prohibit diversity statements.  Yet departments get around this by including statements like these in job ads:

Applicants must upload a CV including bibliography, a research statement, and a teaching statement (which may include a description of the candidate’s experience in teaching diverse students).
Now every candidate on the job market knows that the word “may” in the above is a euphemism for “must”, for without some mention of “teaching diverse students”, your application is going nowhere. In fact, I have heard, though I can’t vouch for it, that some committees triage job ads by simply discarding ones at the outset that don’t have a “acceptable” diversity statemen. If that is the case—and I emphasize that I don’t know if it is—it would be a violation not only of University principles, but unfair to everyone who applies for the job and isn’t told that the diversity statement (part of the teaching statement) is not optional but really mandatory.

Below are the University’s guidelines for faculty hiring reappointment, and promotion as of April of 2021. Click to go to the pdf which is public:

From page 6 of these Guidelines, here’s an exhaustive list of what an applicant for a job, tenure-track or not, must submit:

Nothing but these items must be submitted by the candidate, and there is no mention of diversity statements. Given the administrator’s opinion above, they are prohibited, though I don’t know about whether it’s kosher to say that an applicant may include a statement about teaching diverse students. After all, there are many aspects of what a good teacher should do, but the ad above stipulates only one.

The department also asks for letters of reference for the candidates, and the people asked must be justified in a statement to the provost.

Finally, after the interviews, when the department has chosen its favored candidate, a complete description of the search must be forwarded to the provost, along with the chairman’s account of the faculty discussion about the candidate and a statement from the head of the search committee.  The Provost and her assistants would review this information carefully, and only if the Provost approves can an offer be made to the candidate (items going with the offer, like space and salary, must also be approved). I presume that if this is a “diversity hire”, the discussion about diversity would have to be included in the package that goes to the Provost.

This is my best judgement about how the process works, partly based on what I’ve observed. The main point is that we do not require diversity statements, but we do ask about diversity (though I’m not sure this is kosher), and we do try to increase the diversity of our faculty, which is fine. What I object to, and what Leiter objects to, are mandatory statements that, at least in public universities, may be illegal because they constitute compelled speech. Further, job ads should be transparent and not describe things as optional if, in practice, they are mandatory.

A reader’s comment: The Jews are behind diversity and multiculturalism initiatives

October 12, 2021 • 9:00 am

Here’s an example of the kind of comment I put in the trash. It was from a potential commenter named “Thunderstruck,” responding to another reader’s query about the diversity of the Art Institute of Chicago’s board, administrators, and curators:

In reply to Richard Lemanczykafka.

Diversity and multiculturalism are mostly Jewish-led efforts, I’m afraid.
I recently watched a new documentary about Swedish multiculturalism and many things finally clicked into place: https://odysee.com/@Palaestra:4/Why-is-Sweden-multicultural:7

The mainstream media never shows us the ugly side of “diversity” (assuming there’s an upside somewhere that I’m not yet aware of).

Get that:  “I’m afraid.” How sad that the Jews are in charge of DEI—even though I know of little evidence that they are. And how ugly this fact is!

If you essay the 104-minute movie (I’ve watched only snippets), you’ll see that the movie is rabidly anti-Semitic, arguing that the incursion of “multiculturalism” in Sweden was a very bad thing, eroding a monolithic society of those with Swedish ancestry.

It then blames the Jews for making Sweden multicultural, ergo creating ethnic conflicts. I was too disgusted to watch enough to learn why the Jews want to make Sweden—and, according to Thunderstruck, everywhere—more diverse, but you can watch for yourself. (I suspect it’ll be a nefarious Jewish plot to get the Jews accepted in Sweden!)

This odious film surely documents some of the increasing anti-Semitism of Europe. And the filmmakers were clever: the movie starts out describing the advent of multiculturalism in Sweden in the Sixties, why it was bad; and the Jews are mentioned first only at 7:12. But then the anti-Semitism comes thick and fast.