Home/Rod Dreher/‘Antiracism’ At LSU

‘Antiracism’ At LSU

LSU protesters going to campus Black Lives Matter march on September 6. '#ACAB' means 'All Cops Are Bastards' (LSU Tiger TV)

The racist “antiracist” madness has now come home to my alma mater, Louisiana State University. Before we go further, I should point out that this is the flagship public university in a very red state governed by a Republican legislature and a conservative Democratic governor.

The LSU Faculty Senate has a proposal before it — one that a source within the university tells me is fully expected to pass. It reads, in part:

 

Here’s the core of the proposal:

AAAS2000 (African & African American Studies) would be a course in which students are indoctrinated in “antiracist” ideology, Critical Race Theory, and the like. From the description here, it is not mere history; it is highly ideologized history (“intersecting oppression”). And if this passes the LSU Faculty Senate, taking this course in left-wing racialism would be a requirement of graduating from LSU. Just imagine how difficult it would be for any student to challenge the professor in this class. To do so would cause one to out oneself as a racist, in the eyes of these ideologues. Dissenters will be intimidated into silence.

One of those dissenters works for the university, and reached out to me to say:

This proposal comes from faculty members affiliated with AAAS [African & African American Studies], but what is interesting is that the Black Student Athletes Association has provided the impetus for this proposal. This is just great: student athletes at LSU dictating academic requirements and curriculum for the entire university, with the complicity of LSU faculty who would like to impose a singular racial world view on all students enrolled in the university.

Here are the required courses all LSU undergraduates must take for their degrees. A single course counts for “three hours”; ergo, six hours of English composition means two classes, each stretching over a semester:

Add to that three hours of Grievance Studies, if the Faculty Senate proposal passes. So what’s going to go from the list above to make room for the mandatory Grievance Studies class? LSU requires no classes in Greek philosophy and thought, none in literature, none in history, none in philosophy, or in any of the foundations of a traditional Western education. You may take these courses to fulfill general requirements above, but you are not required to do so. But if this proposal passes the Faculty Senate, the university will have declared that it is more important for LSU graduates to have had instruction in “intersectional oppression” than Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Milton, Locke, or any of the other greats.

What does that tell you about the future of the university?

I am also told that LSU has imposed discriminatory guidelines for faculty hiring. Academic and professional merit and accomplishment? That’s on the back burner. Race is what matters. Don’t believe me? Here is a link to the Faculty Hiring guidebook that LSU’s office of Academic Affairs sent to its professors. 

Here are some excerpts. If, every time you see the word “Diversity Advocate” below, you replace it with “Commissar,” you will better understand what’s going on here:

More:

This is an astonishing abdication of academic integrity and responsibility, in favor of an ideology of racial preference. There should be lawsuits. How is it legal that race can be used to such an extent in determining hiring policies and curriculum requirements at a public university?

Remember me telling you that Louisiana is a very red state? Where is the legislature? Would the majority of taxpayers of the state of Louisiana — of which I am one — stand for this if they knew it was happening? I am a 1989 LSU graduate, and have my oldest child at LSU now as an undergraduate. I would like to consider sending one or both of my other children to LSU when the time comes. Will I be paying to have my children radicalized by a mandatory class on Critical Race Theory at a public university (or have my children compelled to learn ketman, the art of lying to power-holders to avoid getting in trouble)? Can I have confidence in the quality of instruction if the university is so fanatical about hiring on the basis of race? Note that LSU requires future hires to prove their “commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion” before hiring. I think about the best professors I had at LSU in the 1980s, and while I would bet that they were quite liberal politically, what if they weren’t? What if they were just really good at their jobs, and standouts in their fields, but could not or would not, on principle, demonstrate loyalty to the politicized criteria of “diversity, equity, and inclusion”? Who cares what they think privately? Can they teach well? Are they fair to all students? Do they produce quality research?

I have seen in my own profession (journalism) what happens when administrative elites prioritize hiring on the basis of race. It causes a decrease in the quality of the collective work, and resentment among people who are taking up the slack, and/or who were denied the opportunity to be fairly considered for those jobs, because they were the wrong race, or the wrong sex. But you can’t say anything about it, because to notice this publicly sets you out as a bigot. When a professional’s identity or loyalty to an ideology — left or right — matters as much or more than their competence in their field, then the work they do cannot help but decline.

Back to LSU. Because of the Covid crisis, LSU faces a $54.6 million budget shortfall this year. There will be no pay raises for faculty. But according to the LSU Roadmap To Diversity, a university statement of policy, the university remains committed increasing the diversity bureaucracy:

LSU’s Chief Diversity Officer makes $185,477 per year, according to the 2019 LSU Operating Budget.

In 2016, the then-president of LSU testified that the decade of budget cutting had cost the university around 500 faculty members. In 2018, the same president (who has since moved on) testified that LSU is “on the bottom” in terms of state spending per student. This is not the fault of the university, but of the state government. What do I know, I’m just a Louisiana taxpayer and father of an LSU student, but it would seem that after over ten years of cutting the university to the bone, that recruiting and holding on to the very best professors ought to be the most important goal of the state’s No. 1 public university. In my view, it is generally immoral to hire people based on their race or sex. But it is also absurd and infuriating for a university that is desperate to uphold its standards while the state is starving it to death to declare that it is going to surrender to this social-engineering fantasy that has captured other universities.

If well-endowed private universities want to do this to themselves, that’s their business. But LSU has to answer to the people of the state of Louisiana. How can the university justify racialist hiring, and imposing what sounds like a catechism in racial ideology on its undergraduates, especially given the many years of budget duress?  If the university were to impose a Commissar for guaranteeing 100 Percent Americanism to watch over the faculty hiring process, faculty would revolt — and they should!

Why should Louisiana taxpayers subsidize the inculcation into undergraduates an ideology that trains them to think that giving someone a leg up in hiring because of the color of their skin, or their sex, or their sexual orientation, or gender identity, is morally right? Why are we paying for the state’s flagship university to undermine the principle of fairness and non-discrimination, and to train young people to interpret the world in terms of power and oppression? If a state university can get away with this in a deep red state with a Republican-controlled legislature, then there’s no stopping the Social Justice Warrior ideologues anywhere.

Last word: this is the kind of thing that bugs me about us conservatives. We stay focused on performative nonsense (“Truuuuuump! He fights!”) that satisfies some emotionally, but changes nothing. Meanwhile, the Left marches through the institutions, and sets itself up to capture the minds of the next generation.

UPDATE: Reader Sunniva Sr:

This is disturbing, though I doubt anywhere will be immune. Not the Deep South, not Wyoming Catholic, nowhere.

I work at a comparable institution. My life is saturated with this stuff. Frequent emails from diversity administrators, exhortations for ‘white’ men to read articles that shame us, deans who parrot Kendi and D’Angelo, the only ficus of our department is diversity and inclusion. There are no longer conversations that involve anything else.

Now the students are steeped in this garbage as well. This year, I’ve had papers that claim white people are all raised to use the N-word, white people are inherently hyper-violent, white men are evil, we need to “cleanse” the justice system (of whom, I wonder..) etc. etc. As soon as I can leave, I will leave.

The chickens are coming home to roost, as they say, but those alive today aren’t much responsible for preparing the coop.

Reader Jared:

I read the article before this one (Charlie Kirk’s Hooters Conservatism), then this one right after. One thing that strikes me is the fundamental unseriousness of *so much* on the “new right” and the absolute seriousness, no matter how insane, of the left. The left is absolutely in it to win it: spending money on lawyers, lobbying at every level of culture, and marching through institutions – even if it takes a long time, while the right is hiring Bang Girls to shoot money canons for a half-hour commercial or having rallies that make them feel good while doing nothing – *nothing* – to further serious opposition that will make a lasting impact. The sheer commercialism that takes over these events boggles the mind. It’s the Frankenstein’s monster of Republican business lust and Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

There are really good, thoughtful, and powerful speakers on the Right. How many of them are getting suffocated by this garbage? At a time when we need – *AND HAVE* – people who can argue effectively from logical AND emotional points against the insanity overtaking us, the people at the top have opted for Commercial Inc. to spread their feelgood message that “doing something” is attending a fun rally or watching one online and maybe buying a MyPillow if you really want to support the cause.

UPDATE.2: A university academic writes:

In your post “‘Antiracism’ at LSU” you ask the question “[h]ow is it legal that race can be used to such an extent in determining hiring policies and curriculum requirements at a public university?”

Unless affirmative action (or similar policies whatever their designation) are made explicitly illegal, university faculties and administrations are free to privilege openly any characteristics they please in hiring.

Yes, virtually every university will append a standard non-discrimination clause at the end of job advertisements (“This university does not discriminate on the basis of…”) but in practice candidates from a designated victim group will rise to the top because this all happens confidentially without physical record of the relevant conversations.  More importantly, however, is the fact that affirmative action vel sim. hiring practices can and do continue even when they are explicitly illegal.

My state has a constitutional amendment that explicitly bans affirmative action in hiring by public universities.  This is less than useless because it cannot control what goes on behind closed doors, i.e., the aforementioned confidential work of filtering applications, selecting a longlist, holding interviews,  selecting a shortlist of candidates, and making the final decision.  I was part of the search committee for my department’s most recent hire and there was significant pushback against one shortlisted candidate because he is a “white male with an elite education.”  This issue was raised in the faculty meeting in which we chose our hire and it helped scupper his candidacy.  There is no record of this discussion save its participants’ memories.

Further, the official ban on affirmative action simply forces faculties and administrations to be creative and patient.  At a wealthy university like mine, for example, we simply create college-funded temporary positions for scholars whose work will contribute to “diversity equity and inclusion” initiatives in the school, who will bring their “critical perspectives” to bear on whatever field they study, and who come from “nontraditional educational backgrounds.”  We all know what this language means, yet like all job advertisements its language is fully vetted and approved by university lawyers as unactionable.

And again, behind closed doors we are fully aware that if we receive applications for one of these temporary positions and forward to the college a candidate(s) who does not have “non-traditional background” (i.e. is white or male etc.) our pick will be discarded immediately.

Further, since such college-funded temporary DEI positions can be transformed into tenure-track positions upon their expiration if the hosting faculty so chooses, one can effectively practice affirmative action in faculty hiring even in the context of its official illegality.

Trying to take legal action against a practice like this is essentially impossible for anyone outside the university.  It would take a faculty member himself, who spent many years secretly compiling evidence, statistics, testimony, etc. all to even begin to build a case that the constitutional amendment was being systematically violated in practice and in secret.  A tenured professor with nothing left to prove or to lose and with a monomaniacal obsession could perhaps do this.  But an untenured assistant like me?  Fuhgeddaboudit.

So, even if grassroots action in your state were to pressure the legislature into instituting some sort of official ban on the practices outlined in your post (while they are quite blatant, they have surely been vetted by LSU’s legal team), this would all simply “go underground” and continue without any real interruption, albeit perhaps through more circuitous, roundabout pathways.  I know that this is a pessimistic appraisal but it is one rooted in my own experience.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

leave a comment

Latest Articles