From Affirmative Action To DEI

There was a time, not very long ago, when it was regarded as insulting, even racist, to describe someone as an “affirmative action hire,” even though everyone knew when affirmative action hires were in fact affirmative action hires. That seems to have changed.

Notes of a DEI Search Chair,” which appears in this morning’s Inside Higher Ed by Abena Ampofoa Asare, an associate professor of Africana Studies and History at Stony Brook, begins by asking, “What do you do when you become a co-chair of a diversity, equity and inclusion search committee charged with increasing faculty diversity?”

Leave aside the legal question of how a public university can create an affirmative action committee charged with making affirmative action hires. And also leave aside what Professor Ampofoa Asare did on her search committee or thinks all such committees should do — primarily, make sure the affirmative action hires are given comparable salaries, work loads, etc., with tenure track faculty.

What I find striking about this article is that it takes as an unchallenged given — without the need to defend or disguise —  that of course the purpose of DEI search committees is to hire on the basis of race. Here is one of her “principles” for such committees:

Given the current popularity of the DEI faculty search as a feature of university hiring, we must articulate a few clear principles.

  • It is crucial that DEI faculty positions are compensated at a wage that is equal or comparable to incoming tenure-track positions at the university.
  • It is crucial that DEI faculty positions have job duties, including teaching loads, that are equal to or better than incoming tenure-track positions at the university.
  • It is crucial that DEI faculty positions have access to the same institutional support and job protections as tenure-track faculty.

Without those three conditions, a DEI search amounts to a public devaluing of scholars whose research, teaching and service interests have historically been marginalized within the American academy. What is the message sent to students, colleagues and the candidates themselves when DEI positions are posted with terms that are inferior to the terms of the institution’s tenure-track positions? The higher education landscape includes a number of DEI searches structured as postdoctoral positions with the potential of conversion to a tenure-track line. Postdoctoral positions simply do not have the same institutional investment and the many privileges of a tenure-track position.

There is no recognition here that, even aside from salaries, duties, etc., the fact that DEI hires are DEI hires sends “the message … to students, colleagues and the candidates themselves” that they are inferior to other faculty.

The name may have changed, but they are still affirmative action hires.

Wokery At UNC: If Balanced is Conservative, Then Unbalanced Must Be …

Inside Higher Ed reports this morning:

Confusion Over a New Unit at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s board chairman told Fox News a new school would provide equal opportunity for right- and left-of-center views. Faculty, caught off guard, have expressed concerns, while the provost says it’s not what it sounds like.

Well, of course the faculty “expressed concerns”!  What faculty could contemplate the creation of a new organization offering equal opportunity for right and left without concern?

The lede:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill leaders have given mixed messages about what sounded, at least initially, like the university is trying to resurrect plans for a conservative campus center.

Interesting, revealing, but not surprising that faculty and journalists covering higher education would assume without a second (or even a first) thought that a new center providing equal opportunity for left and right would be “a conservative campus center.” But wait: if non-discriminatory equal opportunity for right and left is “conservative,” then institutional preference for some views and “concerns” about the presence of others must be … what? Institutional discrimination?

For background on the proposed, concern-inducing new center see here, here, here, here, and here.

Stanford’s Words For The Woke

Stanford wants to improve its — and by implication, our — language. When the British say, “Can I have a word?,” that’s generally a request for a chat in private. Here, when a student is told, “The principal wants to have a word with you,” the kid knows he’s in trouble. In the current instance, […]

Martin Luther King, Redux Redux …

On a number of Martin Luther King days past I have posted version of the following. Since these comments still seem relevant, I post one version, linking others, here: On a past Martin Luther King day, several years ago, I noted (“Dishonoring Martin Luther King, Jr.”) that one of the saddest commentaries on the sorry […]

“Equity”: Disparate Impact, Unhinged

Long-time correspondent, former western newspaper editor Linda Seebach, comments on my recent Stanford post that “A lot of the mischief has been enabled by “disparate impact” as a legal justification for lawsuits. Maybe that needs to go too.” That is such a good point that I want to address it in a post rather than replying to […]

Affirmative Action Pro And Con

An old and good friend sent the following partial comment on my essay about affirmative action at Stanford linked in my last post: I remain a supporter of diversity on campus, because I think that there is an important difference between keeping members of a group out due to prejudice and taking pains to admit […]

Affirmative Action At Stanford, Then And Now

Stanford has been much in the news lately because of its woefully woke list of words that one should not use for fear of offending someone, like “American” or “stupid” (maybe that was listed to protect the list from criticism), but there is also other news from my alma mater that is equally discouraging. I […]

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