J.E. McReynolds | October 27, 2021
Oklahoma higher ed is hiring (diversity statement required)
The Woke dominance of American higher education continues apace. In the name of diversity, the nation's colleges and universities are actually promoting a lack of diversity—namely, hiring teaching staff on the basis of modern liberal values rather than traditional liberal arts.
Witness a recent development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences canceled a scheduled lecture on climate change. Why? The speaker wasn't Woke enough. The views of University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot ran afoul of academia's obsession with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Abbot may have sterling credentials to talk about the climate, but he was outspoken about higher ed's concessions to the DEI mentality, arguing that (as noted by The Wall Street Journal) DEI “threatens to derail” a primary mission of higher ed, which is the “production and dissemination of knowledge.”
Imagine that! Imagine, too, that an elite university disagrees with Abbot's premise—so much so that his lecture was booted off the campus. It wound up instead at a Princeton subsidiary that hasn't yet succumbed to Woke-i-tude.
Lest readers believe these trends are occurring exclusively in the redoubts of the MITs, Yales, Harvards, Berkleys, etc., consider what this blog has been exposing lately about the diversity mania here in Oklahoma (see parts one, two, three, four, and five in this series).
Job postings in the Chronicle of Higher Education tell the tale.
The University of Central Oklahoma wants to hire an assistant professor of humanities and philosophy. Applicants must include a diversity statement. Listed as “highly valued” in the job description is the applicant's ability to “diversify the curriculum in under-represented areas of humanities and/or philosophy.” On the Edmond campus, such an ability is apparently to DEI for.
UCO’s Department of English is looking for someone to teach in areas “including but not limited to African American literature, Black Studies, and critical race theories.” Applicants must include “a teaching statement that demonstrates commitment to racial justice in the classroom.”
Also at UCO, the Department of Political Science is seeking a full-time, tenure-track faculty member with specialization in indigenous/tribal government. Interested? First submit an essay of one to two pages exploring your bona fides on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Should there be any remaining doubt, the university wants you to know that it “affirms and promotes diversity in areas including race, class, gender identity, ethnicity, culture, religion, ideology ... gender expression and other aspects of self-identification.” What was established in 1890 as the Territorial Normal School has a history that was too normal (white) for too long for its modern administration to stomach. A purpose statement notes an “awareness of the historical heritage on which the university was founded and the many struggles and sacrifices, both historically and currently [emphasis mine], that confront underrepresented communities.” We assume the views of the canceled lecturer mentioned above do not represent an underrepresented community—just a man who was tripped up while walking down the halls of academia.
UCO's specious, overwrought purpose statement reminds us of its years-long claim of being the first major university in the state to get 100 percent of its energy from wind. But there are no huge turbines on the campus, and even in Oklahoma the wind doesn't blow all the time. It's a clever and appealing sleight of hand employed by many institutions today.
Make a carbon non-neutral drive up Interstate 35 from Edmond and take the Stillwater exit. You'll soon be on the campus of Oklahoma State University, where a position has opened for an “associate dean for equity and inclusion.” This is a post within the curiously named “College of Education and Human Sciences.”
Sought is a man or woman to develop “programs, policies, and practices to promote critical understanding of equity and inclusion issues across the college, local community, state, nation, and world.” State, nation, and world? That's a tall order for someone being given the most vague mission imaginable. He or she “will support the engagement in high-quality research, outreach, and advocacy to advance social, civil, and educational rights” within the department “and the OSU community.” So much for the state, nation, and world.
This is so broad that it appears the successful candidate can do just about anything desired as long as the chef salad is dressed with Woke terminology. Oh, but don't apply unless you can supply evidence of “an established record of activism, leadership, recruitment, and mentorship.” Activism isn't listed first due to alphabetical order. It's the central credential.
Also on offer at OSU is a full-time faculty post in the area of American Sign Language, listed as “part of a cluster within the College of Arts and Sciences.” What's sign language for “cluster”? The successful candidate, we're told, “should be willing to teach from a multicultural perspective and to mentor ethnically and racially underrepresented students.” Please include a diversity statement in your application, along with a resume, transcripts, and three letters of recommendation.
Down in Norman, the Department of Psychology at the University of Oklahoma is seeking applications for department chairperson. “We strongly encourage applications from women, members of minority groups, veterans, those with disabilities, the LGBTQIA community, and all others who are committed to excellence, inclusion, and diversity.” Applicants must submit “a statement regarding your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
A common denominator in the job listings above and others explored in this series is the requirement for submission of a “diversity statement.” What's that? According to American University's Washington College of Law, diversity statements “have become an integral part” of job applications at law firms, government agencies, and nonprofits. This source says such a statement is “a personal essay that is a depiction of your past experiences” and explains “how these experiences have contributed to your personal and professional growth.” Diversity statements are no less important today than any other information traditionally required on a job application.
Still, says the Washington College of Law, defining “diversity” or what constitutes “being diverse” is a challenge. But here are some factors to consider: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, and education background. These are “just a few examples of how to illustrate your diversity.”
Here is an actual sample submitted to the law college by a prospective student:
“Bam! I slammed my knuckles against the table to signal that I passed my turn. Every weekend of my childhood in Orlando, Florida, I spent my time playing Cuban double-nine dominoes with my paternal grandparents. I found those weekends to be my gateway into a culture and home left behind many decades ago. I woke up at sunrise with my grandfather to make café con leche, I danced with my grandmother’s delicate scarves to Beny Moré, and I was called Señorita Munoz for the first time at six years old by the man behind the coffee window when I ordered guarapo, a juice extracted from sugar cane. Although my story seems exotic to many people, to me being a bilingual, Latina in Orlando, Florida, felt like the norm. My classmates abundantly filled my life with different languages, religions, and backgrounds. Within that setting, I felt that I added to the diversity of my surroundings while rarely feeling demoted by my minority status.”
This apparently worked: The applicant moved further into the admission process.
Diversity, as we once understood it, is genuine at the institution. Founded in 1896, it was the first law school founded by women, the first with a female dean, and the first to graduate an all-female class. It's not to be confused with the George Washington University Law School, established in 1865 in Washington,D.C. That city and its namesake university honor a man who owned slaves. But if diverse military experience counts for anything, at least you can say Washington demonstrated activism on a grand scale.
[For more articles about higher education in Oklahoma, visit AimHigherOK.com.]
A former managing editor of The Journal Record, J. E. McReynolds has served as a general assignment reporter, business editor, and opinion editor of The Oklahoman.