Paul L. Caron
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Sunday, February 10, 2019

More Colleges Are Asking Scholars For Diversity Statements. Here’s What You Need To Know.

Chronicle of Higher Education, More Colleges Are Asking Scholars for Diversity Statements. Here’s What You Need to Know.:

Michelle A. Rodrigues has been on and off the academic job market since 2012. During the current hiring cycle, she's noticed something: Many more institutions are asking her to submit a statement with her application about how her work would advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The requests have appeared on advertisements for jobs at all kinds of colleges, from the largest research institutions to small teaching-focused campuses, said Rodrigues, a biological anthropologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The statements tend to be one page, maybe two. In them, scholars are supposed to explain how their experience can bolster institutional efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Colleges are under increasing pressure to increase access and completion rates for students from underrepresented backgrounds, the thinking goes, so they should hire faculty members who understand their role in improving those outcomes.

Coming up with material for a diversity statement isn't a challenge for Rodrigues. She's Indian, and her research focuses on women of color in science. If anything, such a statement might seem to give her an edge.

She doesn't necessarily see it that way, though. She's concerned about how search committees will evaluate the statements. She also worries about backlash. Committee members who are skeptical of intentional efforts to promote equity in the academy might even penalize her.

Her thought process reflects some of the anxieties surrounding required diversity statements, which are becoming increasingly common in faculty hiring. At least one institution, the University of California at Los Angeles, has moved to require them for tenure and promotion.

Supporters of the statements say they're a way to ensure that scholars of color receive credit for often invisible labor, like mentoring underrepresented students and serving regularly on committees.

By requiring them in the hiring process, colleges can signal to scholars of color elsewhere that they are trying to diversify their mostly white faculties. And requiring them for tenure portfolios can prompt faculty members already at a campus, particularly white academics, to think about how they might help create a more welcoming culture.

But some academics have sounded an alarm about the statements because they see them as potential political litmus tests and consider them threats to academic freedom. Even people who support efforts to strengthen diversity in higher education have their reservations about how committees might use the statements, among other things. ...

Requirements around diversity statements tend to be vague about what should go in the documents. That's on purpose, because they have to be applicable to different disciplines and to candidates who come from a variety of backgrounds. Yet that vagueness can cause confusion.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/02/more-colleges-are-asking-scholars-for-diversity-statements-heres-what-you-need-to-know.html

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Comments

Quote: Colleges are under increasing pressure to increase access and completion rates for students from underrepresented backgrounds, the thinking goes, so they should hire faculty members who understand their role in improving those outcomes.

Did I miss the news? Are these colleges actively pursuing those who're actually grossly underrepresent in their ranks, such as conservative Republicans, devout Catholics and Evangelical Christians, not to mention Asians who're the children of immigrants? The last is why Harvard is being sued.

Somehow I think not. What they claim to want is more racial minorities under the assumption that human races are inherently diverse. That's a stock argument of racists rendered no different for including a pretense of benevolence. What they really want is to compromise the integrity of various minorities, for instance to so shape legal education that no black lawyer challenges Roe's adverse impact on black families.

And is the emphasis on sexual minorities really that beneficial? Anyone with open eyes knows that our culture obsessed too much over sexuality and needs to chatter less about it. The less we talk about minorities and the more we talk about the miseries imposed by divorce and single-parenthood the better. That is where the real pain it, as anyone who knows kids troubled by divorce knows.

Personally, I'd love to write one of those letters. Three of my ancestors were murdered by the Klan and proto-Klan groups in NW Alabama. Several others fought in the Union calvary, providing a screen for Gen. Sherman's march across Georgia.

That's real diversity, but I doubt they'd want me. I don't offer the sort of compliant minds that they want to stuff with their nonsense.


Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Feb 10, 2019 10:31:37 AM

Community colleges offer great practical life courses at terrific rates without huge debt risk.

Posted by: BonHagar | Feb 11, 2019 4:34:13 AM

"Requirements around diversity statements tend to be vague about what should go in the documents. That's on purpose, because they have to be applicable to different disciplines and to candidates who come from a variety of backgrounds. Yet that vagueness can cause confusion."

Creating that confusion is part-and-parcel with the other intent of these Orwellian Marxist loyalty pledges: To create justification for shutting up various unwelcome voices of actual diversity of thought.

Posted by: JeffH | Feb 11, 2019 5:00:34 AM

Another significant problem is the constantly shifting focus of the left. Craft the perfect letter for today's requirements and get hired, and you might be fired later on when the worm turns and those great values have become utterly unacceptable social flaws.

Posted by: Bill G | Feb 11, 2019 5:15:28 AM

This is what I call "orgy diversity". They have zero interest in intellectual diversity; they are focused entirely on what people look like naked (skin color/ethnicity and gender), and what sex acts they are willing to perform (LGBQTXZ&$#).

Posted by: Dr. Steve | Feb 11, 2019 5:39:10 AM

The diversity statements are an infringement on academic freedom, and the failure of already employed faculty to oppose them merely once again reinforces their lack of principle, ethics, and morals.

But at public institutions I would argue that they are also infringements of First Amendment rights. Someone needs to sue.

Posted by: Ankylus | Feb 11, 2019 8:50:35 AM

Re: Ankylus - These diversity statements are being imposed by the generally useless "diversity and inclusion" offices on campuses around the country who insist (with little resistance) that HR implement them in the process without any faculty input. On the positive side, I think almost all hiring committees basically ignore these statements in the candidate's packets, but the statement could potentially be used to screen applicants. I'm just trying to think of what kind of committee would look at a possible faculty member and say, "wow, exceptional research, great teacher, and a joy to work with, but I just can't get past their poorly written diversity statement." Not sure I see it, but if that is a conversation that actually happens, the applicant will only benefit from being passed over and dodge a bullet of joining a group of faculty who are completely nuts.

Posted by: Anon. | Feb 12, 2019 12:34:37 PM