Hiring people based on race or ethnicity is illegal but the University of California seems to have found a workaround (or a woke-around) to this problem. University of Chicago professor Jerry Coyne wrote a blog post last month about hiring within the UC system. He explains how it has become more focused on mining the content of mandatory diversity statements than academic qualifications:
A document from the University of California tells us how the system worked in six searches in the life sciences, and I find it a bit disturbing—disturbing because the ideology and social engineering is clear, because candidates, however good in scholarship, were eliminated if their diversity statements fell below a specified cutoff, and disturbing because the only kind of diversity involved was racial and gender diversity. But we know that that is what people mean when they talk about “diversity”. Ideological, class, and background diversity are irrelevant.
In this process, diversity statements were used at the outset of searches to eliminate candidates. There were two searches.
A.) Search 1 (“Cluster search”). Here five faculty lines were opened in the Life Sciences with no stipulation as to preferred sub-areas. Instead of departments vetting the candidates at the beginning, a committee was formed of 22 members from all departments in the Life Sciences. 993 applications were received, of which 893 were considered viable.
These 893 applications were then vetted for diversity statements alone, rating the statements in three areas: knowledge about diversity, track record in advancing diversity, and plans for advancing diversity if hired. The published Berkeley diversity-evaluation rubric was used, rating candidates on a 1-5 scale for each of the three areas, so that the minimum score was 3 and the maximum 15…
Only 214 of the 893 candidates (24%) passed muster here as having adequate diversity statements. These 214 were then passed on to the appropriate departmental search committees to create a short list for interviewing candidates (these are typically 3-6 candidates per job). In this search and the second one below, candidates were also asked to explain their ideas about diversity during the interviews…
It’s clear from the document that diversity was regarded at least as important as scholarship in these hires, though 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.
Coyne goes on to say that he supports affirmative action so he’s not objecting to the idea of increasing diversity per se, he’s objecting to a system which a) is selecting not just for diversity but for a specific ideological commitment to a narrow type of diversity, i.e. diversity of race and gender.
According to the rubric the hiring committee used to evaluate applicants a disqualifying score for “Knowledge of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” would be someone who seems “uncomfortable discussing diversity-related issues. May state that he or she ‘just hasn’t had much of a chance to think about these issues yet.'”
A mid-level applicant on this metric would “show a strong understanding of challenges faced by individuals who are underrepresented and the need to eliminate barriers, and be comfortable discussing diversity-related issues.”
But a person with a successful score would have, “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.”
Coyne concludes: “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.”
Responding to Coyne’s blog post, Hoover Institution fellow John Cochrane says the writing is on the wall for academics who want to have a shot at a job:
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.
If you want to work at a UC school the message from the hiring committee is simple: Get woke or go broke.