Sunday, September 2, 2018

The 'Diversity' Racket at UCLA

At great piece, from Heather Mac Donald, at the Los Angeles Times (surprisingly), "UCLA's infatuation with diversity is a costly diversion from its true mission":

If Albert Einstein applied for a professorship at UCLA today, would he be hired? The answer is not clear. Starting this fall, all faculty applicants to UCLA must document their contributions to “equity, diversity and inclusion.” (Next year, existing UCLA faculty will also have to submit an “equity, diversity and inclusion statement” in order to be considered for promotion, following the lead of five other UC campuses.) The mandatory statements will be credited in the same manner as the rest of an applicant’s portfolio, according to UCLA’s equity, diversity and inclusion office.

A contemporary Einstein may not meet the suggested evaluation criteria. Would his “job talk” — a presentation of one’s scholarly accomplishments — reflect his contributions to equity, diversity and inclusion? Unlikely. Would his research show, in the words of the evaluation template, the “potential to understand the barriers facing women and racial/ethnic minorities?” Also unlikely. Would he have participated in “service that applies up-to-date knowledge to problems, issues and concerns of groups historically underrepresented in higher education?” Sadly, he may have been focusing on the theory of general relativity instead. What about “utilizing pedagogies addressing different learning styles” or demonstrating the ability to “effectively teach and attract students from underrepresented communities”? Again, not at all guaranteed.

As the new mandate suggests, UCLA and the rest of the University of California have been engulfed by the diversity obsession. The campuses are infatuated with group identity and difference. Science and the empirical method, however, transcend just those trivialities of identity that UC now deems so crucial: “race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status,” to quote from the university’s Diversity Statement. The results of that transcendence speak for themselves: an astounding conquest of disease and an ever-increasing understanding of the physical environment. Unlocking the secrets of nature is challenge enough; scientists (and other faculty) should not also be tasked with a “social justice” mission.

But such a confusion of realms currently pervades American universities, and UC in particular. UCLA’s Intergroup Relations Office offers credit courses and “co-curricular dialogues” that encourage students to, you guessed it, “explore their own social identities (i.e. gender, race, nationality, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, social class, etc.) and associated positions within the campus community.” Even if exploring your social identity were the purpose of a college education (which it is not), it would be more fruitful to define that identity around accomplishments and intellectual passions — “budding mathematician,” say, or “history fanatic” — rather than gender and race.

Intergroup Relations is just the tip of the bureaucratic diversity iceberg. In 2015, UCLA created a vice chancellorship for equity, diversity and inclusion, funded at $4.3 million, according to figures published by the Millennial Review in 2017. (The EDI vice chancellor’s office did not have its current budget “at the ready,” a UCLA spokesman said, nor did Intergroup Relations.) Over the last two years, according to the Sacramento Bee’s state salary database, the diversity vice chancellor’s total pay, including benefits, has averaged $414,000, more than four times many faculty salaries. Besides his own staff, the vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion presides over the Discrimination Prevention Office; BruinX, the “research and development arm of EDI”; faculty “equity advisors”; UCLA’s Title IX office; and a student advisory board. Various schools at UCLA, including medicine and dentistry, have their own diversity deans, whose job includes making sure that the faculty avoid “implicit bias in the hiring process,” in the words of the engineering school’s diversity dean.

These bureaucratic sinecures are premised on the idea that UCLA is rife with discrimination, from which an ever-growing number of victim groups need protection...
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