CounterCurrent: Week of 4/18
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI, or as some have chosen to style the acronym, DIE) is taking over every level of American higher education. We have seen this on the student level for decades, primarily in the form of “affirmative action” and other discriminatory admissions practices. But now, DEI mandates are being imposed upon university faculty at an ever-increasing and ever-more-explicit rate. This does not bode well for an already-languishing American professoriate, one flooded with progressive activists, pseudo-scholarship, and starved for honest, disinterested research and teaching.
Faculty “diversity” (hiring for census categories over intellectual capacity) was previously an unspoken goal pursued by university deans and department chairs behind closed doors. In other words, leadership would pull the strings necessary to appease the woke police, making sure that faculty websites have a proper distribution of melanin and estrogen. Now we’re seeing them “say the quiet part out loud,” so to speak. Administrators are explicitly requiring people from “underrepresented groups” to be given preference in faculty hiring, promotion, and tenure, and all applicants to the university—underrepresented or not—must affirm their allegiance to DEI ideology before even stepping foot on campus.
One example of this top-down DEI strategy has come from the University of Texas at Austin, who in July proposed its “Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Strategic Plan,” a document the National Association of Scholars received from an anonymous source. I wrote about the plan, finding that it amounted to little more than a political litmus test for faculty hiring and promotion. Any academic interested in winning or retaining a job within UT Austin’s professoriate would have to swear fealty to DEI dogma, effectively screening out all those who take issue with the ideological claims therein (and refuse to compromise on their beliefs in the application process).
After we pushed back against the proposed plan, UT Austin’s Director of Media Relations and Newsroom, J.B. Bird, doubled down, claiming that the proposed plan would not interfere with faculty performance or intellectual diversity. I was less than convinced by this boilerplate PR statement, but there was ultimately nothing the NAS could do but wait for the plan to be finalized and, presumably, approved. That day has now come.
Last Wednesday, April 14, UT Austin announced its newly enacted plan, now called the “Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity.” In this week’s featured article, Louis K. Bonham, an alum of UT Austin both for his BA and JD, examines the finalized plan, specifically looking for differences from the original proposal. His findings are not encouraging:
… given that the entire thrust of the plan is to increase the numbers of faculty from “underrepresented” groups; that “diversity skills” are the new touchstone for all faculty personnel decisions; that the Provost’s Office (which seems to be the nerve center at UT for all things woke) and dedicated diversity commissars will be the enforcers of these edicts; and that viewpoint diversity is never actually addressed in the plan at all, the concerns voiced by NAS and FIRE about the working draft of the plan do not appear to have been seriously considered.
UT Austin proves once again that it cares little for intellectual diversity, or for institutional neutrality, and has instead chosen to violate civil rights law, encourage state-sponsored employment discrimination, and entrench ideological conformity. This has left UT alumni such as Bonham fed up: “Like a growing number of alumni across the country, I simply can no longer support my alma mater.” We urge UT Austin to rescind this plan, and if it does not, for academics who care about equal opportunity and the fruits of their labors to take their talents elsewhere. Furthermore, the Texas state legislature and Governor Abbot’s handpicked university trustees should take action to eliminate state-sponsored discrimination at UT Austin.
CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.
Image: Daniel Norton, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, cropped.