Wokeademia - Barokong - Teknoiot

4 Jun 2020

Wokeademia - Barokong

I'm working on an economic view of political polarization. One aspect of that project is the extent to which many institutions in our society have become politicized. Today's post is one little data point in that larger story. It tells a little story of how to politicize an institution and silence dissenters.

Jerry Coyne reports on the "diversity equity and inclusion statement" required of anyone hired by the University of California, or desiring a raise or promotion. This is a required statement each candidate must write "Demonstrating Interest in and Ability to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion." It's not about whether you are "diverse," meaning belonging to a racial, gender, or sexual-preference group the University wishes to hire. It is a statement, as it says, of your active participation in a  political movement.

Jerry's news in this post is that the statements are now being scored numerically, and only the files of those scoring high enough are passed on for scholarly review. Jerry previously postedhere on the case of Abigail Thompson, professor of mathematics at UC Davis, who dared to question diversity statements in a letter to the American Mathematical Society, pointing out that they are political tests

Why is it a political test? Politics are a reflection of how you believe society should be organized. Classical liberals aspire to treat every person as a unique individual, not as a representative of their gender or their ethnic group. The sample rubric dictates that in order to get a high diversity score, a candidate must have actively engaged in promoting different identity groups as part of their professional life.... Requiring candidates to believe that people should be treated differently according to their identity is indeed a political test...The idea of using a political test as a screen for job applicants should send a shiver down our collective spine....
and he coveredhere the inevitable kerfuffle, which only goes to prove how much it is a political test.

To be clear here, Abigail's point is not whether classical liberalism is true or not. The point is whether a classical liberal may not be appointed to the university of California, no matter his, her, or their scientific accomplishments, or must be made to abjure and deny that political belief as a condition of employment. You can disagree with classical liberals, but you can still agree they may express their political views, and you may agree that they should not be  forced, as a condition of employment,  to abjure their beliefs and associations, to express other beliefs, and to be forced to participate in activities and associations that advance other political views.

Before the twitter mob goes nuts, the point today is the nature of the diversity statement. I'm not arguing against "diversity" either in its plain English sense, or in its current political meaning as a euphemism for racial, gender and sexual-identity quotas. I do, as required by my employer, put quite a bit of thumb on the scale in hiring and appointments.  We'll argue about that some other day. Jerry too, in addition to being an eminent scientist, describes himself as a liberal, and believes in advancing diversity in academia. But not loyalty oaths.

What is it?

The university not only requires the statements, but gives

these statements precedence in the hiring process, so that if your statement doesn’t exceed a minimum numerical cutoff for promoting diversity, increasing it in your past, and promulgating it in the future should you be hired, your candidacy is terminated
My friends (anonymous!) in the UC system report that the criteria are clear and the word is out: Don't try to be clever.  Don't quote Martin Luther King, on judgement by content of character rather than color of skin.  Don't write vibrant essays on the importance of ideological, political or religious diversity.  Don't quote federal anti-discrimination law, the 14th Amendment, and the UC's own statements of non-discrimination in hiring. Don't write about class diversity, diverse experiences of immigrants, such as people born under communism in Eastern Europe or the amazingly diverse experience of the colleague you just hired who came from a small village in China. Don't write about the importance of freedom of speech, or  anti-communist loyalty oaths in the 1950s. Are you thinking of writing about your hilbilly elegy background, your time in the military, your support for gun rights and Trump, and how this background and viewpoint would enrich a faculty and staff that likely has absolutely zero people like you? Don't bother. We all know what "diversity" means. And, heaven forbid, don't express distaste for the project. The staff are on to all these tricks,  and each of these specifically will earn you a downgrade. For an example of what not to do, see UCLA Professor Stephen Bainbridge's (UCLA law)posted diversity statement. Let's see if he gets that raise.

Jerry links to the UC Rubric to assess candidate contributions to diversity equity and inclusion. It's lovely that they are so secure they don't think they have to hide this sort of thing.

Knowledge Score 1-2:

doesn't discuss gender or ethnicity/race.
Only specific kinds of diversity need apply.

Discusses diversity in vague terms, such as "diversity is important for science."... Little demonstrated understanding of demographic data related to diversity in higher education or in their discipline.
It's clear they want a recitation of statistics. I suggest you do not start as Bainbridge does,

“A study of various university faculties showed that at Cornell the ratio of liberal to conservative faculty members was 166 to 6, at Stanford it was 151 to 17, at UCLA it was 141 to 9, and at the University of Colorado it was 116 to 5.”[4]
Continuing with score 1-2

.may state that it's better not to have outreach or affinity groups aimed at underrepresented individuals because it keeps them separate from everyone else, or will make them feel less valued.
A valid worry, which we may not even investigate. I might not mention Justice Thomas' view of affirmative action, born of personal experience, that it stigmatizes people like himself. True or false, but no longer open to inquiry.

Score 4-5:

Discusses diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values that every faculty member should actively contribute to advancing.
Clear knowledge of, experience with, and interest in dimensions of diversity that result from different identities, such as ethnic, socioeconomic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and cultural differences
Notice the absence of political, ideological, religious, national.

Track record score 1-2:

Participated in no specific activities, or only one or two limited activities
Only mentions activities that are already the expectation of faculty... (for example, "I always invite and welcome students from all backgrounds to participate in my research lab, and in fact have mentored several women." ...
..the only activities were oriented toward informing oneself (for example, attended a workshop at a conference).
score 4-5

Describes multiple activities in depth...Activities may span research, teaching and service, and could include applying their research skills or expertise to investigating diversity, equity and inclusion.
Got that? Your research must now come up with the right answer too. (My emphasis)

...e.g.,  a current graduate student may have volunteered for an extended period of time for an organization or group that seeks to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in science.
Prove you are already a member of our political club.

Your plans score 1-2:

...States that would be happy to "help out" but seems to expect the University or department to invite or assign them to activities.
score 3:

Plans or ideas lacking in detail or clear purpose (for example, if "outreach" is proposed, who is the specific target, what is the type of engagement, and what are the expected outcomes? What are the specific roles and responsibilities of the faculty member?
score 4-5:

Clear and detailed ideas for what existing programs they would get involved with
You can't ask for a clearer statement that a candidate will join some groups and not others, and support the existing bureaucracy.

and what new ideas they have for advancing equity and inclusion at Berkeley and within their field, through their research, teaching, and/or service.
Again, now your scientific research must come up with the right answer, and you must promulgate it in the classroom.

Intends to be a strong advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion within the department/school/college and also their field...References activities already taking place at Berkeley and in the field, and how additional or new activities would advance equity and inclusion.
(my emphasis) You can't get a job unless you support our club and our jobs.

The Office of Diversity and Equity website offers additional written guidance.  Choice quotes:

Teaching..Using new pedagogies and classroom strategies to advance equity and inclusion.
Research:..Research focused on underserved communities.
Service/professional activities: Participation in workshops and activities that help build multicultural competencies and create inclusive climates....Supporting student organizations that serve underrepresented groups....Participation with professional or scientific associations or meetings that aim to increase diversity or address the needs of underrepresented students, staff, or faculty. Serving on university or college committees related to equity and inclusion...
It's not just thought police, it's belong and actively participate in  the club police!

How does it work?

Coyne links to an informativeinternal report on the effect of the diversity pledge on life sciences recruiting, the "Initiative to Advance Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Life Science at UC Berkeley Year End Summary Report: 2018-2019:" by Dr. Rebecca Heald and Dr. Mary Wildermuth:

...participating departments agreed to incorporate interventions in all future faculty recruitments. This change has been more difficult in some departments and has met resistance by a small number of senior faculty members. ...What cannot be emphasized enough is the value of the Initiative in bringing together faculty and staff across departments who share a common passion and set of goals. The Initiative established a group of allies across campus who are valuable resources for support and encouragement, and above all are committed to changing the status quo. With support from the campus leadership, the Life Sciences are now at a cultural and procedural tipping point in advancing faculty diversity, equity and inclusion.
So, the point is as much about internal political battles as it is about hiring "diverse" faculty. Squashing the "resistance" by the "small number" of "senior" faculty members actually willing to risk their necks by speaking out about this. "Bringing together" the faculty -- and staff! -- who "share a common passion and set of goals." Forming a "group of allies." Achieving a "cultural and procedural tipping point."

I'm interested here in the politicization of our institutions. It is interesting that not everyone is on board this project, even in the UC system. There are still Jerry Coynes and Abigail Thompsons at major universities. Much of the project is to force political conformity and silence their dissent within the institution.

The story:

The Berkeley campus committed five FTE for a broad search in the Life Sciences....A total of 993 applications were received, of which 893 met basic qualifications. The LSI Committee conducted a first review and evaluated candidates based solely on contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion. Only candidates that met a high standard in this area were advanced for further review, narrowing the pool down to 214 for serious consideration. The remaining applications were then opened to review by the departmental ad-hoc search committees for short-list consideration.
My emphasis. Jerry on this:

having a cutoff for diversity from the outset indicates that it was actually the most important criterion for a search to proceed further. No matter how good your scholarship, if you didn’t pass the diversity cutoff (a score of 11 in the second search), you were toast.
The report goes on

...Five finalists were ultimately proposed.... Ultimately, the “cluster search” was one of the most successful interventions of the initiative. It will result in an increase in faculty committed to advancing faculty diversity, equity and inclusion on the campus.
My emphasis again. The game is no longer to advance candidates who are themselves "diverse." The game is to stock the faculty with people of a certified ideological stripe, who are committed to advancing this cause. Tom Sowell need not apply. In case the litmus test is not perfectly clear:

in the first review, the Committee evaluated redacted statements on contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion. Limiting the first review to contributions in DE&I is itself a dramatic change of emphasis in the typical evaluation process which generally focuses on primarily on research accomplishments....
...emphasizing diversity, equity and inclusion in the first review is now an agreed practice in these departments.
The report documents the effects of this selection:

But wait a minute. If the point is to hire African Americans, Hispanics (UC: you're supposed to say Latinx now) and women, why not just ask people what they are and hire them? Indeed the diversity statements were redacted to exclude names precisely so people didn't have that basis to pick more "diverse" candidates.

Without presumptions regarding a candidate’s gender, national origin or ethnicity, reviewers evaluated candidates solely on their statements on accomplishments, depth of understanding, and future plans.
about "diversity."  Well, because racial and gender quotas are illegal, of course.

In closing, the report notes

Finalists were asked to describe their efforts to promote equity and inclusion, as well as ideas for advancing equity and inclusion at Berkeley, as part of their job talk....Only candidates who demonstrated, through their knowledge, past contributions, and/or future plans for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, potential to meet Berkeley standards were advanced as finalists and ultimately proposed candidates
Jerry comments

I find this process chilling in its commitment to a specific form of social engineering. While I favor affirmative action (many readers here don’t), I think it should be enacted not through eliminating candidates because of insufficient diversity statements, but through departmental initiatives to identify and hire good minority candidates.  You might respond that, well, this is one kind of such initiative. But these hires involve initiatives meant to assure that every person hired is committed to diversity in precise accord with the ranking system...., it enforces not just diversity, which I favor, but ideology, which I don’t. Further, only race and gender were involved here as aspects of “diversity”—not things like class, political viewpoint, background independent of race and sex, and so on.
Nobody should ever be automatically eliminated because their “diversity score” is below 11. If you do that, you will eliminate all those who are good scholars but don’t have a track record in promoting racial and gender diversity, even though they may have been involved in other valued social activities that don’t affect diversity (I’ve mentioned writing about your field for the public and giving talks to high school students to educate and interest them in your field).
This is a good point. Suppose you spent all your copious free time as a scientist activating for climate change, working as a drug addiction counselor, teaching in prisons, or saving endangered species. None of that counts. Of course if you spent your time as a Mormon missionary, activating for second amendment rights, or working for the Federalist society, we know that doesn't count!

... the Berkeley Diversity Mavens have won. By hiring large numbers of deans and administrators whose job is to promote initiatives like the above, colleges like Berkeley have guaranteed that this kind of process will only get more onerous and more invidious. After all, those people have to keep ratcheting up the process to keep their jobs going.  In reality, their goal should be to ultimately make their own jobs obsolete.
An important economic insight. By and large this sort of thing seems to be the result of the diversity equity and inclusion staff, not faculty, who mostly are too busy. The modern university is more and more of the staff by the staff and for the staff.

If faculty and trustees do not like this, or what the admissions office is doing, rise up and take charge. If alumni do not like this, stop giving them money, as I have.

In other news, Yale eliminates art history 1. From Reason magazine,

"the class might make some students uncomfortable due to the "overwhelming" whiteness, maleness, and straightness of the artists who comprise the Western canon..."
"In its final iteration, the course will "consider art in relation to questions of gender, class and race and discuss its involvement with Western capitalism," according to the latest syllabus. Art's relationship to climate change will also be a "key theme." "
TheYale Daily News  adds

The decision to get rid of this survey art history course resembles the English Department’s move to “decolonize” its degree requirements in 2017. At the time, the department made a sequence titled “Major English Poets” optional for majors.
A correspondent (anonymous!) comments, "Next, they'll eliminate their calculus, probability, and statistics courses because of the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of the inventors." True. How can one teach thermodynamics (basically, the physics of steam engines) without a through examination of James' Watt's privilege, and the huge effect of steam engines, the coal mines they drained, the coal they burned, on "western capitalism" and climate change? Well, obviously, someone still takes physics seriously, such as the ability to calculate just how hot the liquid sodium in a solar power plat can be before the whole thing melts. Art history, sadly, not.

Roger Kimball in the Wall Street Journal adds

It is also yet another sign that Yale has succumbed to a life-draining decadence. A decadent institution isn’t necessarily impoverished or licentious. Rather, it is desiccated because it has lost the life-giving pith of its purpose. ...the animating élan has evaporated. A decadent institution is one that has repudiated itself.
This is (to me) a new meaning of "decadent" and a word I have been looking for. A lot of America is "decadent" these days.

The political philosopher James Burnham once observed that “suicide is probably more frequent than murder as the end phase of a civilization.” As Yale has been demonstrating for some years now, elite institutions are eager to take the lead.

More thoughts on the next post in the series

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