Wanna Teach? Submit a Killer ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ Statement

George Will’s column last month on leftist bias in faculty hiring got to the heart of the practice but showed that conservatives can’t do a damn thing about it. He cites the policy at the University of California of requiring all applicants in every field to submit, along with their CV and letters of recommendation, a “diversity, equity, and inclusion” statement.

As Will summarizes it, the statement should show that the applicant “has been active, and must promise to be active, in advancing the approved agenda. This process explicitly subordinates assessments of academic excellence.”

Will refers to the results of job searches in eight departments in the life sciences at Berkeley as evidence of that political prioritization. The searches drew 893 applicants. Fully 679 of them were quickly tossed out precisely because they scored low on the diversity statement.  Further tests of diversity qualifications thinned the ranks of the qualified even further. This part of the screening was, once again, entirely unrelated to the candidates’ specific research and teaching qualifications in the field.

[The University of Texas Succumbs to the ‘Social Justice’ Pandemic]

Will rightly marks this trend as a flagrant violation of academic freedom. Under the guise of benign watchwords and happy slogans, it recalls the loyalty oaths of the 1950s, which played a role in the free speech movement that originated in Berkeley in the 1960s. The diversity oath inserts ideology right into the process of peer review where it doesn’t belong.

The diversiphiles can claim that diversity is a politically neutral concept all they want, but everybody knows that’s not so. Leftists insist that the absence of proportionate diversity among the faculty signifies a politics always already at work and that their initiatives merely free the personnel process of longstanding discriminations.

But having witnessed the heavy-handed machinations and frank resentments of diversity officers, and having participated in coercive diversity training sessions, and having learned the fate of dissenters, even moderate liberals on campus recognize the thoroughly political motives of the programmers and policy-makers.

The diversity statement is just one more mechanism of control and surveillance, an ingenious one. It is precisely what Michel Foucault made the subject of a book that academic leftists love, Surveillir et Punir: Naissance de la prison, a mode of soft totalitarianism. As Will puts it, “The defining characteristic of totalitarian societies is not that the individual cannot participate in politics but that the individual cannot not participate.” It’s a trap. Leftists maintain that everything is political, and then design a system to make it so.

[When Meeting Racial Quotas Is Impossible]

The worst part of the UC’s policy, which is now commonplace in higher education, is that there is no way to fight it. I wrote about the diversity statement a few months ago, noting that it makes a brilliant maneuver by shifting political correctness away from current employees of the university and toward prospective employees. That way, you don’t have to fear any complaints. A tenured professor in chemistry who resists the diversity regime can become a big problem, for instance, as Jordan Peterson did in Toronto over the pronoun controversy. But applicants turned away because of their insufficient observance of diversity dogma have no recourse. They are job seekers, and they don’t want to become known as troublemakers. They don’t have money to mount a lawsuit, either, and Federal anti-discrimination laws won’t help (partly because diversiphilia has infiltrated Federal civil rights offices).

If you can enforce diversity piety at the gatekeeping stage, then you needn’t worry so much about keeping already hired faculty in line. As time goes by, professors who oppose diversity agendas grow tired, get old, and retire. They are replaced by professors who have shown at the very start that they will obey diversity codes. It’s a long-term strategy, part of the long march through the institutions.

And there is another advantage to the gatekeeping tactic: it saves academic leftists from waging a battle of ideas. If PC attitudes are a prerequisite of employment, no debate needs to take place. For example, progressive professors need not justify their replacement of a US History general requirement with a diversity requirement. They now have the votes to do so; they can table the discussion, add up the ayes and nays, and move to the next reform.

[‘Social Justice’ Ideology Is Damaging American Values]

It’s an effective escape from the marketplace of ideas. George Will writes a trenchant critique of identity politics on campus that appears in dozens of newspapers across the country–so what! The Closing of the American Mind becomes a best-seller–big deal! The profs shrug and carry on knowing that hirings will continue next year just as they did last year. As I wrote in First Things, “While conservative intellectuals and activists were winning policy debates on Capitol Hill, the left focused on personnel. Conservatives won the argument; progressives seized office space.”

It is for this reason that as the American public has become fully aware of leftist bias in higher education, the bias has gotten stronger since Allan Bloom’s time, not weaker. Exposure of their coercive politics hasn’t curbed academic leftists one bit. They are more brazen than ever. The diversity statement is a blunt demand for conformity, a party-line laid out for every aspiring educator to toe. More tactics are on the way; we may be sure.


  • Mark Bauerlein

    Mark Bauerlein is a professor emeritus of English at Emory University and an editor at First Things, where he hosts a podcast twice a week. He is the author of five books, including The Dumbest Generation Grows Up: From Stupefied Youth to Dangerous Adults.

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7 thoughts on “Wanna Teach? Submit a Killer ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ Statement

  1. Diversity and inclusion are great as long as that doesn’t mean political-viewpoint diversity or inclusion. Everyone knows the glaring, blatant hypocrisy by now. The Academic Left is a cancer on this country, and is chock full of dishonest and nasty people. I’ve encountered enough of them to know. The last thing they want is a fair fight against the opposition not involving lazy caricatures, canceling, etc.

    1. By your logic, doesn’t writing “damn” make you a blasephemous psychopath whose sole purpose in life is the sabotage of civil society?

  2. What the PCL is doing is correct, here. You start with a candidate that is more qualified than many existing professors the university has, and you have them submit a diversity statement that simply says “I agree that true diversity is a good thing, and in all my pursuits where the outcomes are close, I seek to consider whether the decision will make the outcome more or less diverse.”

    And then you force the university to justify why they took a similar, but lesser qualified candidate. Our legal system is 100% set up to ferret this stuff out: It’s how lesser qualified white beat blacks for the same job. Or lesser qualified men beat women. Our legal system will not and cannot stand for this this. And in the end, the university will have to admit it came down to diversity statements. And then the real fun begins. Because if diversity is the goal, then we must begin wondering why there are so few christians, and why so few republicans, …

    What is the difference between the life experiences of a black or white professor if they have the identical view on the issues that define us? Big gov versus small gov, beliefs on speech and censorship, views on abortion, beliefs about the size of the social safety net, medical care is a right, and on and on.

    If a black and a white have the identical views on the top 20-30 issues that define us and the problems that ail us, then there is no diversity, really, in the outcomes. Because all decisions are, at their core, driven by these defining issues.

    Adn that is precisely what diversity is all about at its core. Corporations tell us in training that that diversity makes us stronger because it brings so many divergent opinions together. But if everyone has the same opinion and would make the same decision, then diversity isn’t doing what was promised. That’s no different than having a bunch of Jim Crow white folks getting together to decide where to build the next swimming pool in town.

    Good luck PCL, this is an important fight. And it’s winnable.

  3. “While conservative intellectuals and activists were winning policy debates on Capitol Hill, the left focused on personnel. Conservatives won the argument; progressives seized office space.”

    And conservatives need to seize the budget.

    That’s how the American Left finally managed to lose the Vietnam War — the 94th Congress cut off aid to South Vietnam and 55 days later, Saigon fell.

    And next spring, Conservatives in both Congress and the White House need to cut off aid to Higher Education and let it collapse as well…

    For 50 years the radical left has had the attitude of “and they shall die” — in controlling the entry to the academy (along with the legal and psychological professions) they have effectively subverted it through attrition. They may control the office space but we control the budget and it’s time for us to simply say “no mas”!

    Regardless of if shutting down a $22 Trillion Dollar economy was wise or even necessary, the bottom line is that the largess of Washington can not continue and that’s even without the inevitable hyperinflation that will result from all of the expansion of the currency. And the Baby Boomers aren’t going to look kindly at their Social Security and Medicare being reduced.

    Now is the time for us to simply let the empty shell implode. The academic left seems to believe that those of us who endured the Ivory Gulag are somehow going to forget all the abuse and be willing to bail them out, that they somehow are entitled to it.

    I don’t think so. Much like Andrew Jackson cleaned out the idiot son-in-laws of the Founding Fathers, President Trump needs to “drain the swamp” and the most festering swamp in America is academia. Shut it down!!!

  4. I agree, this is a terrible development. What to do about it? Mark Bauerlein gives no hint. I don’t expect him to have an answer; I’m just saying how it is — there is no clue about what to do.

    One might begin by asking how this stuff has happened? One reason is that state governments have allowed it. Now in California, where the UC system is unfortunately doing this, there is little or no hope that the legislature or governor would step in and try to stop this. None. Ditto probably for the entire continental west coast.

    But in red states, the situation does not have to be so dire. Does that mean this is not happening in those states? I doubt it! The Republican governments are too brain dead to be aware of what is going on, and if they do have some awareness, too meek and spineless to attempt to do something about it. Yet if they wanted to, they could easily stop this!

    1. From what I keep hearing, Ole Miss has a very leftist faculty. The university faculty often doesn’t reflect the population at all. So it will be legislature vs. “faculty governance”, with the faculty governance being something you wouldn’t want, but as quietly as possible so you don’t really notice.

      Same in many states.

  5. Mark,

    Thanks for the very thoughtful post. It is true that the average job applicant will not be able to fight back, at least without the help of public interest law firms.

    If anyone has personally been rejected by a UC school or other school on the basis of a diversity statement requirement, please reach out to me because we are looking to potentially offer pro bono representation in a challenge.

    Daniel Ortner
    Pacific Legal Foundation

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