A Survey We Can Do Without

Should colleges analyze their faculties by race, ethnicity and gender to see which group is happier and more content with life on campus? Short answer: no. Identity-group politics is already out of hand in the world of universities. Comparative contentment reports are sure to reinforce the notion of identity uber alles. Besides, grievance is still the coin of the realm on campus, so nothing is more predictable than a conclusion like “Minority professors on the tenure track aren’t as satisfied with their academic workplace as their white counterparts are.” The Chronicle of Higher Education offered that statement while reporting a survey conducted and analyzed by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE).

Some 8,500 pre-tenure faculty members were interviewed at 96 four-year colleges and universities. White and Latino faculty members had similar levels of job satisfaction, but Black, Asian-American and Native American faculty were less satisfied. Kiernan Mathews, director of COACHE, said that colleges that “lump everyone together” (i.e. treat each faculty member as an individual instead of as a member of a potentially unhappy identity group) may not be reaching the topics crucial to different populations. This is the way that the burgeoning diversity bureaucracy makes the case that some groups, if not oppressed or mistreated on campus, definitely need more attention. COACHE is even willing to throw the “r” word into the discussion: the organization’s research director said the racial gaps revealed in the survey suggest that “African American faculty may be experiencing some lingering aspects of racism—real or imagined.” More diversity benefits, please.

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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