Home/Rod Dreher/‘Diversity Or (Career) Death!’ Ze Said

‘Diversity Or (Career) Death!’ Ze Said

The Holy Name. 'Every pronoun is sacred/Every pronoun is great..." (rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

A reader at the University of Michigan passed the document below on. It was sent out by the University of Michigan to employees of its Ann Arbor campus:

Dear Ann Arbor campus faculty and students,

The University of Michigan is committed to fostering an environment of inclusiveness. Consistent with this value, the University has created a process for students to designate pronouns with the University and have those pronouns reflected on class rosters this fall. A designated pronoun is a pronoun an individual chooses to identify with and expects others to use when referencing them (i.e., he, she, him, his, ze, etc.). Faculty members play a vital role in ensuring all of our community feels valued, respected and included.

Students can designate pronouns in Wolverine Access through the new Gender Identity tab within the Campus Personal Information section. This page will be used to enter/update and/or delete pronoun information with the University.

Designated Pronouns will automatically populate on all class rosters accessed through Wolverine Access. Rosters pulled from other systems will not have designated pronouns listed. If a student does not designate a pronoun, none will be listed for them. Given that this process is new, we ask that faculty review their rosters again in mid- to late October to give students time to designate their pronouns.

These changes give students the ability to tell the University what pronoun they identify with for use in our communications and interactions with them. Asking about and correctly using someone’s designated pronoun is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity and to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities. If you make a mistake and use the wrong pronoun, you can acknowledge that you made a mistake, and use the correct pronoun next time. Please help us continue to make the University of Michigan an inclusive and welcoming place for all of our students.

To learn more about how to designate pronouns, visit Wolverine Access at https://csprod.dsc.umich.edu/htmldoc/eng/dftie/lsaa/htm/cc_ss_genderid.html. If you have any questions about designated pronouns and to learn more about gender identity and gender expression, email the Spectrum Center at [email protected] or visit our website at spectrumcenter.umich.edu.

The reader added the following commentary, which I’ve edited very lightly out of an abundance of caution to protect the reader’s confidentiality, given the McCarthyism on campus these days:

It was only a matter of time before my institution imposed upon the faculty some sort of system that would compel us to use students’ pronouns of choice. Lo and/or behold. The email above was just now sent to the faculty by two high-ranking administrators (total 2015-16 salary $835,674.13). It informs us that students may now choose to designate a pronoun in their online personal file, which will be displayed on a faculty member’s online course roster.  It would seem that professors and graduate student instructors are now obliged to familiarize themselves with any non-binary pronouns required by a student prior to the start of the semester.

Luckily for the students, they can report any and all cases of harassment to the Spectrum Center. I am unable to locate most of its staff members in a publicly available salary database; its director however, pulls down $81K, more than many faculty members. Since faculty are now given all the necessary pronoun information up front in our class rosters, we no longer have any excuse for slipping up and harassing/micro-aggressing/invalidating a student with the flagrant and violent use of an incorrect pronoun.  But I’m fairly sure that such a thing will never happen because we’re all deathly afraid of losing our jobs over a discrimination lawsuit.  I for one just bought a house and since I have no actual talents or skills I really need this job.  “Ze”, huh?  Well that’s just super!

Now, let’s set aside for the moment the fact that the (very few?) faculty members like myself who have not drunk heady draughts of the Kool-Aid are being compelled to assent to a brand new and extremely radical ideology they disagree with.  Let’s also set aside the fact that when I am told to call a man a woman and vice versa, I am being forced to stare falsehood in the face and call it truth–and then celebrate that falsehood to the heavens (not that I don’t believe that there are men who desperately want to be women and vice versa; I know there are and they have my sympathy). Let’s further forget that something so trivial and childish as improper pronoun use (!!!) could cost me and my peers our jobs unless we were to make public apologies, recant our heathen ways, and embrace the One True Faith.

Again, let’s ignore all that vitally important stuff and think about dollars and cents.  Once again, one of the two units I work in is compelled to trim its annual budget.  By a tiny amount, I’ll freely admit: 1%.  But it’s still a cut.  And we have to cut that 1% every year.  This means that our department never be able to make permanent one of our underpaid temporary employees who keeps a research center running.  Without this individual’s tireless efforts our doors would be closed and our emails often unanswered.  Everyone is asked to trim, to cut, to streamline, etc.  But there is always more money to be found for a new Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, usually someone who makes as much or more than an assistant professor.  In short, if you need something to help you do the job for which you were hired, they plead poverty.  But when the progressive left creates yet another radical identity category, some new and improved form of human personhood, they build and staff a center for it.  Counting only individuals with the word “Diversity” or “Inclusion” either in their job title or the title of the unit for which they work, we spent $3,151,280 on salaries alone in 2015-16.  The cost of whatever programs or initiatives these individuals and units were collectively responsible for is beyond my ability to calculate (I wouldn’t know where to look for such numbers).  Sadly, the two other universities in our “family” spent only $140,347 on similar staff; surely they are nightmare hellscapes for the “diverse”.

Granted, $3 million is chump change for a place like this but darned if I couldn’t do wonders with it. But when my department needs money for something important and central to our job, I’m told to hustle a donor. Kind of insulting.

In the Middle Ages, even when a kingdom was poor, they built lavish cathedrals, because that’s what was most important to them. It’s what they worshiped. On campus today, administrator’s worship the great god Diversity, to whom fulsome tribute must be paid.

The NYT reports on the latest in campus catechesis:

WORCESTER, Mass. — A freshman tentatively raises her hand and takes the microphone. “I’m really scared to ask this,” she begins. “When I, as a white female, listen to music that uses the N word, and I’m in the car, or, especially when I’m with all white friends, is it O.K. to sing along?”

The answer, from Sheree Marlowe, the new chief diversity officer at Clark University, is an unequivocal “no.”

The exchange was included in Ms. Marlowe’s presentation to recently arriving first-year students focusing on subtle “microaggressions,” part of a new campus vocabulary that also includes “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”

Good grief. When a student is not only afraid to sing along with a pop song, but is “really scared” even to ask if it’s okay, because even the question might seem blasphemous, we are in serious trouble. Who can possibly learn in a climate of such ideological fear? Say the wrong thing, and boom! you’re gone. More:

Among her other tips: Don’t ask an Asian student you don’t know for help on your math homework or randomly ask a black student if he plays basketball. Both questions make assumptions based on stereotypes. And don’t say “you guys.” It could be interpreted as leaving out women, said Ms. Marlowe, who realized it was offensive only when someone confronted her for saying it during a presentation.

Want to be extra-safe? Don’t talk to anyone not of your own race. The risk is too great. This is priceless:

Fresh on the minds of university officials are last year’s highly publicized episodes involving racist taunts at the University of Missouri — which appear to have contributed to a precipitous decline in enrollment there this fall.

“That closes your doors,” said Archie Ervin, the vice president for institute diversity at Georgia Institute of Technology and president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. “If you have sustained enrollment drops and disproportionately full-paying students such as out-of-state, the state legislature can’t make up the gap.”

So this is what they’re telling themselves: that the massive drop in enrollments at Mizzou is because there were alleged racist taunts there, not because SJWs roiled the campus and demonstrated that the university will surrender to their crybullying. The thought that the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education are actually making things worse on campus never occurs to them, or, crucially, to the colleges that hire them. They’re all true believers.

UPDATE: This just went out from the University of Washington. The boldface part is emphasized by the faculty member who forwarded it to me:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Names matter. And there are many reasons why some of our students may use names that differ from their legal names. Some students prefer to use a middle or nickname. Some students may choose a name that aligns with their gender identity. International students may adopt “Western” names. Other reasons may include a pending divorce or identity-related safety concerns. Whatever the reason, it’s important that the University of Washington respect students’ wishes. Our student leaders have asked us to update our systems to use preferred names, and our commitment to equity compels us to respond.

I’m pleased to announce that, starting autumn 2016, the University of Washington is offering students at all three campuses the opportunity to have their preferred names appear on class and photo rosters, in the UW Directory and on Grade Page, a system through which faculty enter grades. In winter quarter 2017, we will be able to add more options, with preferred names appearing on Canvas, MyPlan, MyGradProgram, EARS, DARS and Panopto. Legal names will continue to appear on official documents such as transcripts, diplomas, financial aid and immigration records.

This change sounds simple, but is the result of five years of substantial research and infrastructure engineering by UW-IT and the Office of the University Registrar to update relevant systems as part of the Preferred Names Project. This work supports the University’s commitment to value and honor diverse experiences and perspectives, and to create a welcoming and respectful learning environment, promote access, opportunity, and justice for all.  In making this change, we join a host of peer institutions, such as University of Michigan and UC Berkeley, in using the names student prefer.

The tools at Identity.UW.edu help students add a preferred name at any time during the quarter. Instructions prompt students to notify their professors and teaching assistants when a name change has been made to facilitate a smooth transition across applications.

See the Preferred Names website for more information, or contact the Office of the University Registrar at [email protected].

The faculty member who forwarded that to me adds:

As with the faculty member from UM, what kind of jumped out at me was the amount of resources being sunk into this (see bolded portion). Because apparently students can’t just hand in assignments with their preferred name on them in quotation marks, or underlined, or using a first initial and their preferred middle name, or any number of other solutions that have worked perfectly well in the past.

I’m sure pronouns are next for us at the UW. That will be fun. It’s hard enough to learn names in a 10 week quarter. Maybe I just won’t bother addressing anyone by name, and will avoid using third person pronouns in discussions.

UPDATE.2: A reader writes:

Just this week, the oldest public school in America, Boston Latin School (which educated Sam Adams, Cotton Mather, and countless others), which is a minority-majority nationally-ranked public exam school that sends 15-20 kids to Harvard a year, was ordered by the Department of Justice to hire a diversity officer and produce annual reports on the racial climate.  And they need to “institute a system of restorative justice”, whatever that means.

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2016/09/26/boston-latin-school-civil-rights/

And, presumably so that they aren’t disciplined by the Feds again, the whole school department is pro-actively updating their record systems with a non-binary gender option, probably similar to UMich [NFR: The tweet is from a Boston at-large city council member]:

https://mobile.twitter.com/AyannaPressley/status/780794512805208064

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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