Loyalty Oaths, Diversity Mandates, Faculty ‘Training’ at San Diego State

Manchurian Candidate

Higher education has become obsessed with intense devotion to the all-encompassing cult of “diversity,” and as usual, California is leading the way. New loyalty oaths have become so demanding that, as Heather Mac Donald has written in the Los Angeles Times, even Einstein probably could not be hired on a public California university campus today.

Would Einstein’s “job talk,” she asks, quoting UCLA guidelines, reflect his contributions to “equity, diversity and inclusion.” Would he have participated in “service that applies up-to-date knowledge to problems, issues and concerns” of underrepresented groups?

Related: Harvard’s Strip Tease About Wealth and Race

Take a look at this remarkable document from J. Luke Wood, San Diego State University’s “Chief Diversity Officer / Associate Vice President for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion.” to all SDSU faculty.

The document announces that the Office of Faculty Diversity and Inclusion is seeking applications for many faculty positions, “including the inaugural Provost’s Chair of Faculty Diversity and Inclusion” who will serve “as a leader” of an unspecified number of new “Provost’s Professors of Equity in Education.”

What is especially noteworthy and perhaps novel here is that although these are ostensibly faculty positions, “all positions will report to the Associate Vice President for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion,” not to any academic dean or department chair. Diversity is getting its own faculty.

The primary responsibility of these new faculty hires will be to develop practices and procedures to ensure that the SDSU faculty religiously follows the university’s “diversity and inclusion goals and are provided with capacity-building activities that can better empower all personnel to support these efforts.” Got that? A good deal of this effort will take the form of “training sessions,” some examples of which “will include unconscious and implicit bias, racial/gender microaggressions, teaching practices for underserved students, and cultural competency, and becoming a Hispanic serving institution.”

Related: Academic Activists Make a Published Paper Disappear

These “training sessions” will emphasize the faculty search process, such as:

  • Understanding of bias in commonly employed applicant criteria
  • Bias introduced through informal background research on candidates
  • Bias in the messages received by candidates during interviews and on-campus visits
  • Bias introduced through off-list reference checks

And my favorite:

  • Common phrases and sensemaking that conveys bias (e.g., fit, likability, strong)

I’m not sure what that last one means, but “sensemaking” seems to be big at SDSU. For example, one of these new diversity professors’ responsibilities is to help departments develop diversity plans “congruent with the university’s” goals through “Collective sensemaking around areas of disproportionate impact.”

In order to see how the fervor to eradicate all traces of possible bias undermines academic freedom, imagine, if you can, what would happen if James Damore, the former senior software engineer fired from Google for writing a memo questioning efforts at gender diversity, were to apply for a position at SDSU. Observing a search committee considering his application would probably call to mind Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, about witchcraft in Salem.

As University of Virginia law professor Deborah Hellman concluded in a just-published paper after summarizing the Damore controversy, Damore’s unforgivable offense “lay either in (a) having certain beliefs, which he should not have had, or (b) expressing these beliefs, which he should have kept to himself.” (Hellman here is stating the views of Damore’s critics, not her own. In fact, the gist of her deeply philosophical article, “The Epistemic Commitments of Nondiscrimination,” is to take seriously and even enhance the arguments of those “pragmatists” who maintain that some views should not be held or, if held, expressed.)

In short, SDSU’s efforts to root out bias — or anything anyone might ever claim is bias, whether overt, implicit, or unconscious — is much more vigorous than anything California and other universities did during McCarthyism to root out radicals.

Related: How Social Justice Warriors Kill Free Thought

Universities now demand loyalty to “diversity” in both thought and deed. What Jonah Goldberg wrote in National Review about Damore’s firing would almost certainly apply to his predictable non-hiring at SDSU: “[t]he issue here isn’t diversity, but conformity. Everyone must agree with a very narrow dogma about not just sexual equality but the approved ways of enforcing it.” As a result, university diversity czars and their burgeoning staffs of administrative and now faculty apparatchiks now resemble nothing so much as academic equivalents of the old committees on un-American activities.

This is not the first time California universities have been obsessed with loyalty. During the McCarthy period, for example, and even for decades later the campuses were engulfed in conflict and litigation over required loyalty oaths. Oaths were ultimately declared unconstitutional and fired faculty were eventually reinstated, but oaths requiring allegiance to the Constitution etc. lingered. According to Berkeley history professor David Hollinger, “The oaths of the McCarthy Era were embedded in a campaign against certain political opinions, while the oath people sign today has no such connection, and hence is perceived as irrelevant to contemporary issues.”

Alas, that is no longer true. The McCarthy era oaths required statements of allegiance and often denial of membership in the Communist Party, but in some respects, today’s oaths go farther by requiring not only affirmations of belief but actions to implement them.

As Northwestern law professor John McGinness has written, “In the nineteenth century, Oxford and Cambridge required dons to adhere to the 39 Articles of Religion, the basic creed of Anglican Church. Today the University of California requires faculty to adhere to a new creed—diversity…. The old requirement of the British colleges was at least less intrusive. One had to profess a set of beliefs but did not have to do anything to advance their social realization. But under the California policy, a prospective faculty member must advance a designated social mission to advance his or her career.”

This criticism has just been echoed by an influential academic, fomenting a Twitter tsunami of controversy. As Inside Higher Ed reports, “‘As a dean of a major academic institution, I could not have said this. But I will now,’ Jeffrey Flier, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor and Higginson Professor of Physiology and Medicine, tweeted Saturday. ‘Requiring such statements in applications for appointments and promotions is an affront to academic freedom, and diminishes the true value of diversity, equity of inclusion by trivializing it.’”

Flier’s critics cannot comprehend how being required to genuflect to diversity can have a negative impact on academic freedom, and their failure is a good illustration of the depth of the problem. One need not look beyond Flier’s statement that “as a dean of a major academic institution, I could not have said this.” Why not? Perhaps because if he had his fate would have been similar to former Harvard President Lawerence Summers, whose reflections on the underrepresentation of women in the higher reaches of mathematics were widely regarded as beyond the pale, and certainly not the sort of thing a Harvard president could say and keep his job.

Heather Mac Donald and others have documented the explosive growth in the bureaucracy of diversity, inclusion, etc., but San Diego State appears to be pioneering in taking diversity mania to new heights, or depths. Rather than simply hiring another few associate or assistant vice presidents, provosts, or deans of diversity or beefing up their staffs, SDSU is now hiring a slew of professors of diversity, regardless of their academic discipline, to … surprise! … promote diversity.

John S. Rosenberg

John S. Rosenberg

John Rosenberg blogs at Discriminations.

10 thoughts on “Loyalty Oaths, Diversity Mandates, Faculty ‘Training’ at San Diego State

  1. As one would expect the political program that Luke Wood’s announcement of new positions at SDSU candidly outline is not his own invention. It is that of the new, social warrior, “fist of steel in a velvet glove” SDSU president, Adela de la Torre, who is just ending her first semester at SDSU. Further background information on her and her history may be found in:
    IDENTITY U.: THE PURPOSE OF THE UNIVERSITY IS NO LONGER THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE
    By Heather Mac Donald, City Journal, New York, 1 February 2018

    The intense and pathological identity politics that infects academia across the country – and the fascist tactics used to perpetuate it – are no where better exposed than in Mac Donald’s new book, on two pages (187, 192) of which SDSU merits mention:
    THE DIVERSITY DELUSION: HOW RACE AND GENDER PANDERING CORRUPT THE UNIVERSITY AND UNDERMINE OUR CULTURE
    By Heather Mac Donald, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2018

    And for a 53 min videotaped talk by Mac Donald on her ideas, see:
    THE DIVERSITY DELUSION
    By Heather Mac Donald, video of her talk at Hillsdale College, 26 September 2018

    For a good 6 min video on how university administrators think,” see:
    WHAT IS THE UNIVERSITY DIVERSITY SCAM?
    By Heather Mac Donald, Manhattan Institute & Prager University, 23 May 2015

    INTRODUCTION: “America’s campuses, particularly those in California, spend tens of millions of dollars on administrators and programs to combat issues like sexism, homophobia, and racism on campus. But are these problems in any way prevalent at our universities? Or is this diversity bureaucracy a big waste of money? Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute explains.” Focus is primarily on the University of California campuses but new president Adela de la Torre is aggressively expanding the diversity bureaucracy at SDSU in imitation of the UC system and looking for more taxpayer funds to finance the effort.

  2. “Diversity professors” are the American analog to the “political officers” who infested every nook and cranny of the Soviet armed forces in the Stalin era. The Stalin regime believed most of the Red Army personnel were insufficiently enthusiastic about the totalitarian nightmare of the worker’s paradise, so the regime created a parallel organization within the armed forces to ensure military men thought correct thoughts. It was not enough to be a brilliant commander; if such a commander also had wrong thoughts—Orwellian “crimethink”—he was doomed. Gen. Tukashevsky is a fine example. Here in America, eighty years later, the same process is gearing up. The real job of these diversity profs is to enforce the party line ( whatever it is: today, diversity; tomorrow, trans-speciesism? ), not to “facilitate” diversity. Control and punishment is the goal.
    I’m 73 years old, why do I give a hoot about San Diego State? Only because I was a student there between 1963 and 1965. I studied political science, engaged in spirited debate with liberal and conservatives, and mocked the scruffy weirdos who were members of “Students for a Democratic Society”, or SDS. I would have fallen down laughing if you told me those bums would take over all of American higher education in just fifty years.

  3. I seems our institutions of “higher learning” have completely forgotten what their supposed to be all about. There is no such thing as education anymore, just brainwashing. I last thing I would recommend to any youngster interested in actually learning is to go to college, or at least consider the few left that consider teaching the ability to think their primary purpose.

  4. very important story. gather more facts please, and next time, I recommend less editorializing mixed with the facts. does Wood’s program demand “loyalty-to-Diversity” oaths, as your piece implies? are there other programs around the nation that hand some of the staffing decision over to an admin like Wood? what degree of staffing power will he have? what resistance, if any, has there been at SDSU? who there besides him is pushing his advancement, and this program?

    this guy is slick, and can very plausibly present some of what he has done, say with community colleges, as being for real social justice. he is also an elementary danger to the unversity if he is even 2/3 of what you have described. longer investigation needed.

  5. Again, Senator McCarthy’s Committee was LIMITED to Government Employees/Military members/Contractors w/Security Clearances…you mistake it for the HUAC…(and, McCarthy was right…)

    1. McCarthy was also drunk…

      He was considered a “heavy drinker” by the standards of the 1950’s when everyone would have been considered a “heavy drinker” by today’s standards. McCarthy died in 1957, at age 48, from “hepatitis” that is generally considered to have been a consequence of alcoholism.

      I’m not excusing his behavior — only suggesting that he might have been a bit more rational had he been sober.

  6. Of all the things an academic institution can do, why this obsession with Diversity?

    Is there any evidence that a more diverse staff, or a more diverse student body, improves education?

    It seems to me that spending millions of dollars on diversity is simply a colossal waste of resources in an industry that has traditionally been laughably short of them. The real problem is that this desire creates excess demand, and fresh supply of people in the “right” ethnic groups is a generation or two away. So we are going to wind up hiring lower quality people at higher salaries, which does not strike me as a way to improve education.

    Aren’t there better things to emphasize that would actually give better results? If we want to improve the education of minorities I would think it would be more sensible to hire a bank of tutors who could help bridge the often huge gaps in students’ educational background. This applies to all racial groups but minorities more than others. You can hire a lot of tutors for the cost of one Diversity Administrator.

  7. “Take a look at this remarkable document from J. Luke Wood, San Diego State University’s “Chief Diversity Officer / Associate Vice President for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion.”

    Sharks gotta swim, bats gotta fly.

  8. “Bias introduced through off-list reference checks”

    So in other words, you can only contact the listed references?!?

    Not only is that an unreasonable demand but I’m quite certain that those proposing it don’t follow it themselves. No, they have their own national network of like-minded political activists who have no problem “blacklisting” those not considered properly loyal to their activist ideologies — and now they are trying to prevent others from finding out how crazy their cadre of crazies really are.

    But there is the larger issue of the First Amendment involved as these are state schools — they are restricting speech. And there once was a time when academia championed free speech….

    And the larger issue is that of “compelled speech” which is also unconstitutional — a public university can no more ask job applicants to articulate support for a political agenda than they can ask them to articulate that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior. Baylor can (and does require a letter of reference “from your pastor”), but not a public university.

    And then as to the even larger issue of compelling action to demonstrate commitment to the compelled speech — Imagine if the University of Utah asked job applicants what they have done to support the LDS (i.e. Mormon) Church. Think the ACLU might be a tad concerned about a public university doing this?

    What’s the difference?
    And where is the ACLU ????

  9. All professors, even conservative ones, will submit to these procedures and these developments because they value their security more than their freedom. With legions of PhDs just waiting to take their places as “assistant professors” somewhere, anywhere, under any conditions the administrations care to impose (supply-and-demand is inexorable), current faculty have no leverage and wanna-be faculty will say and do anything to get ordained.

    Solzhenitsyn asked (rhetorically, one assumes) whether the Russians had lost, not just their actual, individual freedom, but the measure of freedom. That’s what comes of continued capitulation to each new progressive outrage–you lose not only the fact but also the idea, your way back to the fact. He speculated that if, at the outset of the Bolshevik Stalinist gulag creation, at the start of the sudden and random arrests and interrogations, the arrestees, or even only a significant number of them, had resisted forcefully, then the gulag would never had developed. We may already be past that point in the development of the new university gulag archipelago.

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