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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Backlash: Professors reject DEI 'loyalty oaths'

Harvard Law Professor Randall L. Kennedy

Universities should stop requiring diversity statements, writes Randall L. Kennedy, a Harvard Law professor, in the Harvard Crimson. Requiring job applicants to pledge their allegiance to left-wing ideology undercuts academic freedom, he writes. It rewards "insincerity" and breeds cynicism.

"Many academics at Harvard and beyond feel intense and growing resentment against the DEI enterprise," writes Kennedy, who describes himself as "a scholar on the left committed to struggles for social justice."

Harvard's Bok Center offers advice for job applicants on what the university now calls Equity Diversity Inclusion and Belonging (EDIB).

It suggests answering questions such as: “How does your research engage with and advance the well-being of socially marginalized communities?”; “Do you know how the following operate in the academy: implicit bias, different forms of privilege, (settler-)colonialism, systemic and interpersonal racism, homophobia, heteropatriarchy, and ableism?”; “How do you account for the power dynamics in the classroom, including your own positionality and authority?”; “How do you design course assessments with EDIB in mind?”; and “How have you engaged in or led EDIB campus initiatives or programming?”

"Playing ball entails affirming that the DEI bureaucracy is a good thing and asking no questions that challenge it," writes Kennedy. Implicitly, conservatives need not apply.

"A cottage industry of diversity statement 'counseling' has already emerged to offer candidates prefabricated, boilerplate rhetoric," he adds.

Kennedy imagines what would happen if a would-be professor was required to "submit a statement of their orientation towards capitalism, or patriotism, or Making America Great Again with a clear expectation of allegiance." People would -- and should -- be outraged, he writes.

University of Utah students

Utah is trying to "rein in DEI's excesses," writes Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic. There will be no mass layoffs of DEI staffers, as at the University of Florida, he writes, but they'll be required to serve all students.

The law bans “discriminatory practices,” such as ascribing “values, morals, or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to an individual” because of their identity.

Maximilian Werner, a longtime University of Utah professor, backed the law in an op-ed condemning the "zero-sum, DEI mindset." He told Friedersdorf he hopes it will free faculty and students “to shed the activist mentality and get back to an academic mentality, where you’re cooperating to study hard problems with nuance.”

The backlash is here, writes Friedersdorf. "The Chronicle of Higher Education has tallied 80 bills since 2023 that aim to restrict DEI in some way, by banning DEI offices, mandatory diversity training, faculty diversity statements, and more. Eight have already become law, including in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, North Dakota, and Utah."

1 commento

05 apr

This rebellion against the agenda-laden statements that are the equivalent of answering the, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" question should have started as soon as such statements became a thing. Academia has since at least the 1960s showed little or no courage to stand up against social foolishness and toxicity.

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