Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Wokeademia spreads

In my first and second posts on "diversity statements," I discovered how these political loyalty oaths are now required by the University of California and the National Institutes of Health. 

In a quick look at academicjobsonline I discovered that this cancer has metastasized even further. "Diversity statements," professions of loyalty to the "diversity" cause, and testimonials about one's past commitment to "diversity" efforts pervade academic jobs postings. This is not just a requirement imposed by a nebulous bureaucracy, as I had assumed. It is deeply embedded in each department's recruiting, with therefore the active participation of faculty. 

At the cost of repetition, let me be clear about this sensitive issue. 

Universities started with a desire to hire African Americans, women, and other groups, to address the sadly small numbers of these on their faculties. Racial and gender discrimination being illegal, this was soon labeled a "diversity" effort. But for a long time "diversity" meant only who you hire, not their politics. 

The "diversity statement" is a new effort, in which every potential faculty member must pledge their personal loyalty to the diversity movement, and pledge future activity.  They also must describe their personal experiences advancing "diversity." And they must not mention ideological or other diversity. 

In part, as documented in my first post and references, this has simply been a way to more effectively impose illegal racial and gender quotas. 
The part I object to in these posts is the "diversity statement," and the activity it commands. This statement is a clearly political oath, and squashes ideological diversity. Republicans are a lot rarer on college faculty than any racial or sexual group! 

This post is not about the desirability of seeing more under-represented groups in academia. It is not about the previous "diversity" regime which mostly amounted to spending a lot more time making sure one had examined all potential candidates from under represented groups, and documented such to upper administration. We can discuss those another day. The point here is only about the diversity statement, and the requirement to bend ones research, political support and activity to its cause.

Here is a brief sampling of current job postings (it's a little late in the season, so the pickings are slim. I'll look again in the fall. All emphasis in italics are mine. Major news below, Cornell seems to have the same institution-wide diversity pledge requirement as the UC system. 


Position: Assistant Professor of History  

Required Qualifications:
Ph.D. in History with specialization in Modern World history, with an emphasis in either the African Diaspora, the Islamicate, or South Asia 
Demonstrated commitment to working successfully with a diverse student population 

Preferred Qualifications:
...Evidence of support for and/or experience related to the University’s strong commitment to the academic success of its diverse student body ...

...enthusiastically support the University’s strong commitment to the academic success of all of our students, including students of color, students with disabilities, students who are first generation to college, veterans, students with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, and students of diverse sexual orientations and gender expressions. 

How to Apply - Required Documentation:
An Equity and Diversity Statement about your teaching or other experiences, successes, and challenges in working with a diverse student population (maximum two pages, single-spaced)....

(Cal state Long Beach has lots of job postings at the moment, all with this language, so it does come from upper administration, but with the consent of the departmental faculty.) 


Purdue University, History Department
Position Title: Assistant Professor of History
Position Description: Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Military History / History of the American Civil War Era 

[Someone still teaches military history! I had great hope for this one. But no...]

Principal Duties: ... Applicants will be expected to enhance and complement the strengths of the department in the histories of science, technology, and medicine, gender, politics, and violence/conflict/Human Rights. 

Purdue University’s Department of History is committed to advancing diversity... Candidates should address at least one of these areas in the cover letter, indicating their past experiences, current interests or activities and / or future goals to promote a climate that values diversity and inclusion. 


Ohio State University, Mershon Center for International Security Studies
Position Title: Wayne Woodrow Hayes Chair in National Security Studies

Application Instructions:

...The cover letter should articulate your demonstrated commitments and capacities to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion through research, teaching, mentoring, and/or outreach/engagement. 


University of Connecticut, History
Position Title: Assistant Professor in Early Modern Global History, 1400-1750
Subject Area: History / Ottoman Empire

Applicants must also highlight a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching and service. 

...Additional required materials include a curriculum vitae, commitment to diversity statement 


Cornell University, Anthropology

Position Title: Economic Anthropologist

...Applications should include:...  4. a statement explaining how your teaching and research would contribute to diversity and inclusion at Cornell (please see http://facultydevelopment.cornell.edu/information-for-faculty-candidates/);

...The College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will create a climate that attracts students and faculty of all races, nationalities, and genders.

Application Materials Required:
...Diversity and Inclusion statement

I followed the link: 
All applicants for tenure track and tenured faculty positions are asked to submit a Statement of Contribution to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. ...
...Explaining how the candidate's research, scholarship or creative activities contribute to understanding the barriers experienced by marginalized groups;
...Committing to public engagement with organizations or community groups serving marginalized populations or extending opportunities to disadvantaged people
In general, strong statements share common attributes; the statement:
...Demonstrates a track record on diversity, equity and inclusion matters throughout candidate's career as a student and educator...
Provides clear and concrete examples of how the candidate might approach the issue articulated at Cornell University.
The statement links to Cornell's "rubric assessing candidate on diversity equity and inclusion" which looks very similar  to the University of California rubric:
Awareness/Understanding of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
...No indication of efforts to educate self about diversity topics in higher education.
"educate"  means "agree with us." 
Discounts the importance of diversity.
Don't argue with the thought police
...Unaware of demographic data about diversity in specific disciplines or in higher education.
Listing numbers is a good way to pass this test. 

...Sophisticated understanding of differences stemming from ethnic, socioeconomic, racial, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and cultural backgrounds and the obstacles people from these backgrounds face in higher education. 
"understanding" means that this is settled fact. You are not allowed to question this. 
... Provides examples of programs to address climate or underrepresentation.
...Addresses why it’s important for faculty to contribute to meeting the above challenges.
Experience Promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
May have attended a workshop or read books, but no interest in participating ....
You have to be on the team.
Significant direct experience advancing diversity, equity and inclusion through research, service and teaching. Examples may include advising an organization supporting underrepresented individuals; addressing attendees at a workshop promoting diversity, equity, inclusion; creating and implementing strategies and/or pedagogy to encourage a respectful class environment for underrepresented students; serving on relevant university committee on diversity, equity and inclusion; research on underrepresented communities; active involvement in professional or scientific organization aimed at addressing needs of underrepresented students.
Notice the clear direction from the university what the results of your research must be. An participation in the club activities is the most important concrete step
Plans to Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion at Cornell
... Merely says they would do what is asked, if hired.
Details plans to promote diversity, equity and inclusion through research, service and teaching...
References ongoing efforts at Cornell and ways to improve and modify them to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.
Support the team if you want the job. 

Ohio State University, The Department of Political Science
Position Title: Politics of Race, Gender, and Ethnicity in American Politics

This position is part of a Faculty Cluster Hiring Initiative ... to increase diversity in our professorial ranks, foster an inclusiveness, and promote research and teaching on topics central to racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation.

Application Instructions: ... and a diversity statement that addresses the candidate’s past efforts, as well as future plans, to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in their scholarship, teaching, and service.


  1. Diversity statements have been required for academic job applications in the US for a long time. I assumed that they weren't that important as long as you showed you were fair minded and inclusive and understood the difficulties faced by disadvantaged groups in your teaching etc. What's new here is using this as a first screen and requiring activity outside of your regular teaching and research collaborations.

  2. It's unfortunate Cornell has gone this route.

    When I was there as a freshman in 1993, the campus was already very diverse. My CS and EE classes were not very diverse, however. In one CS class, there was one female. The ILR school? Completely different in terms of diversity. More females and minorities in the student body and the faculty. Whatever they were doing, it was fine back then. There was no rabid push for diversity on the campus. It just was. Half the campus hailed from NYC or Long Island because of the state schools - get an Ivy League education for the price of a public school.

    I'm not entirely sure where this diversity push is coming from. Maybe it is political. On LinkedIn, I follow trends on diversity efforts, all hailing the benefits of "diversity" whatever that looks like to the people constructing it. They claim there are economic benefits to doing so: Women on corporate boards, etc. Maybe there is something to this.

    Maybe my elitist idealism was formed in such a way where I care about what people do versus how they look in the first 5 seconds of meeting them. Perhaps the real danger is trying to make subjective data objective - literally changing the perception of reality and how we measure it.


    Now, I didn't question how this diversity came to be. I took it as a given. But, having grown up in Los Angeles, diversity was a normal and natural thing.

  3. I find it interesting how many female pro-choice advocates strenuously object to men having any opinion, or participating in any way, in the abortion debate. "No uterus, no opinion." It is then ironic that many of these same people are forcing many people who analogously "couldn't know what it's like" to be a minority, to decide what creates a more welcoming environment for them. And not only that, to favor a white male with a purported "commitment to diversity" over an actually diverse person who is simply passionate about their field.

  4. Comment from a Professor in England: Universities (and the BBC etc) require diversity in race, sex and religion (identity politics), but are totally opposed to diversity in thought, opinion, intellectual persuit [the purpose of universities] and attitude (ideological politics).

    Republicans (who are not tolerated on campus) and Conservatives in the UK), should withdraw funding from the liberal arts and social sciences faculties until Universities demonstrate intellectual diversity commitment, fundamental to critical and creative thought, teaching and research (the true mission of a university).

  5. It's simple: Stop any type of tax benefit to universities.

  6. Professor - this is Gleichschaltung in slow motion. Slowly, creeping into many forms, many hiring practices, and because it is slow, not many notice. They find it natural. Until one good day, we find ourselves among Stalinists.
    As you say, it is a cancer, slowly metastasizing all over, and freedom be damned. Very scary. I fret for my children and (possible) grandchildren.

  7. While I am sure there was a strong deliberate program to up the ideological ante at a number of universities (eg California's state universities), I suspect that a lot of this is coming about from other universities copying the previous year's ads from their peers or idols. Hence like a cancer, this spreads. Which University will want to be caught next year without at least a boiler-plate inclusion in their ads? Yet if pressed, the administration and trustees of a number of these institutions would likely run for cover.

    We need something like a Chicago Statement on free speech to be drafted and promoted to nip this in the bud.

  8. This appears to have developed into a sort of ideological purity test and/or coded way to advance diversity itself without overt affirmative action-style measures in the hiring process. In your earlier post which shared the results of using these diversity statements as a tool to narrow the applicant pools, it just so happened that the "short lists" included disproportionately large ratios of "diverse" candidates. The whole thing strikes me as doublespeak. Filtering out people with interests outside progressive political activism can only serve to decrease diversity broadly defined.


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