James Hankins, a Harvard history professor, posts an honest diversity statement addressed to "dear members of Harvard's Faceless Bureaucracy" in Law & Liberty. It's a doozie.
He starts by saying he doesn't think about "Equity Diversity Inclusion and Belonging" (EDIB), the university's version of DEI. He's too busy thinking about history.
"Since, however, you require me, as a condition of further employment, to state my attitude to these 'values' that the university is said to share (though I don’t remember a faculty vote endorsing them), let me say that, in general, the statement of EDIB beliefs offered on your website is too vapid to offer any purchase for serious ethical analysis," he writes.
Hankins analyzes the popular slogan "Diversity is our strength," noting most societies through most of history have preferred unity.
When Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great's generals, took over Egypt in the third century B.C., writes Hankins, he promoted a new Greco-Egyptian god based on Osiris and Apis to unify his Macedonian and Egyptian subjects.
. . . diversity is a luxury good that can be enjoyed only in secure, peaceful societies. Even in such societies, it has to be weighed against other goods (like meritocracy) that will have to be sacrificed if it is pursued as an absolute good. An indiscriminate commitment to “diversity,” bereft of any loyalty to unifying principles, is the mark of a weak or collapsing society.
Diversity can be a strength, he writes, but more often it's not.
Hankins moves on to "equity" which now means "equality of outcomes" in "EDIB-speak." Seeking to admit students or hire professors that "mirror the exact proportions of some (not all) minorities in the country" undermines Harvard's primary purpose of "finding out new truths," he writes. "If a research university really wants the best, if it really wants to discover new truths, it can’t allow non-expert administrators to overrule search committees and throw out candidates just because they don’t help the EDIB office reach its diversity targets."
"Inclusion and belonging" are fine ideals, if they apply to "people we don't agree with," Hankins writes.
Many people who have come to this country in the last four hundred years came precisely because in America they could escape racist or class prejudice and be treated as equals. . . . they could start a business, practice their religion, and educate their children without anyone requiring them to hold particular political beliefs.
In the American tradition, Harvard should "make everybody welcome," writes Hankins. "We fail when we impose smelly little orthodoxies on our students — in the form, for example, of diversity statements that call for a certain kind of response."
Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker has proposed a five-point plan that includes "disempowering DEI" and a group of Penn academics have drafted a new constitution for their institution, emphasizing similar principles.
There's been a lot of pushback to requiring faculty to submit diversity statements: University of Massachusetts Boston, under fire from FIRE, announced in November that faculty applicants will not be required to swear allegiance to DEI principles to be considered for a job.
The University of Utah also has dropped diversity statements for new hires.