A reader who is a PhD student in a STEM field writes (and give me permission to publish), in response to my earlier post about diversity and scholarship:
While diversity statements are definitely a thing, from my experience in the academic job market and that of people close to me who are in the humanities, most universities don’t ask for one. Yet.
However, I think that looking at my university’s mission statement says a lot. It states:
OUR GOALS ARE:
- to welcome students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds to create an inclusive community that is welcoming, nurturing and intellectually rigorous
- to foster excellence in our teaching, research, scholarship and service
- to prepare students with attitudes, skills and habits of lifelong learning and leadership, thereby enabling them to be productive members of a global society
- to be an institution that excels by its accomplishments in our home community, St. Louis, as well as in the nation and the world
That’s right, diversity goes before excellence in teaching and/or research.
I can’t speak for all of academia, but over here, diversity is treated almost as a fetish; it seems to be the one and only thing students and administrators care about. Apparently, having a Center for Diversity and Inclusion is not enough, now we will also have an Academy for Diversity and Inclusion, with the goal of “trying to drive culture climate change and to really help us achieve being the fully inclusive and competitive university we want to be, especially with focus on faculty and staff.”
There is no problem that can’t be solved with more administration.
Finally, while the current trends are hurting the humanities considerably more than they are hurting the sciences and engineering, it does spread into our field a bit. One of the professors in my department does research on fossil fuel combustion and he has been trying to organize a round-table discussion on energy, in which only students would participate (he invited me to be part of it.) The administration has been lukewarm about it, to put it generously. Last time I asked him about it he said it was simply not going to happen. The fact that the “Fossil Free” group on campus is quite active probably had something to do with that. He is very passionate about the topic, just as I am, so we were both very disappointed. But the current line is that fossil fuels = bad and there is nothing to discuss.
There is a lot I have to say about the current state of academia. The change I have observed in the past ten years has been drastic, and not for the best. I hope to be able to write about it this summer. Feel free to contact me if you need more information “from the trenches.” I enjoy reading your blog even if we are probably as far as possible on the political/cultural spectrum. Heck, that’s probably why I enjoy it. Good luck.
I really appreciated this letter. The reader wrote back:
While I’m at it, are you aware of Bias Report Systems? Ours reads:
A bias incident is any discriminatory or hurtful act that appears to be or is perceived by the victim to be motivated by race, ethnicity, age, religion, national origin, sex, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, veteran status or socioeconomic status. To be considered an incident, the act is not required to be a crime under any federal, state or local statutes, nor does it have to violate university policy.
In other words, anyone can report anyone for anything. In my opinion, this illustrates the most powerful thing that this trend, or whatever you want to call it, has achieved: They have managed to take intent away from the transmitter and transfer it to the receiver. What your intentions are do not matter any more. If someone feels “hurt,” then you are guilty. Great way to not only demonize anyone that might disagree with you, but also anyone who is not versed enough, “woke” if you may, on the current accepted lingo, no matter what their views on anything might be. Take this case, for example:
It is 8 a.m. and I am rushing to the office for a meeting. I enter the building, briskly walking. I hear someone talking in the background. The voice grows louder. “Excuse me, are you lost?” Now, I realize that this person is talking to me. I stop and say, “no.”
He approaches me. “Can I help you find someone?” I respond, “No thanks, I am good.” He responds, “Wait, who are you meeting with?” I finally stop and say, “I am Dr. Garcia, I am going to my office.”
A surprised look appears on his face and he responds: “Oh! You don’t look like a professor.”
My day successfully starts off with a gendered-raced microaggression and the process of undoing the pain that follows such interaction. I still must enter my office to work on a project that combats the very topic I just experienced.
We don’t know what the intentions of the person were. But it does not matter. The receiver has decided that a “gendered-raced microagression” has occurred, therefore a gendered-race microagression has occurred.
Imagine living like that, feeling “pain” after such a low-stakes encounter.
True. And imagine the anxiety that everyone on that campus has to live with, knowing that their professional fates hang on not giving offense to members of castes favored by diversity ideology.
Imagine: a university — an actual university! — that has chosen to institute a system that encourages people to inform on each other. A university that — and we know it’s not only this university — has chosen to acculturate people within its community to embrace their fragility, and to demand that Authority intervene as punisher and (therefore) therapist.