The statement of diversity is the statement of new faith (opinion)

In 2008, I was in graduate school and applying for a philosophy term-track job across the country. My petitions fall into two categories: those that require a statement of faith and those that do not ৷ Many religious college applicants either have to write a statement of their own faith or sign a standard one. This bothers me.

It’s not that I didn’t have the promise of faith. I did. But as a philosopher I was not ready to sign anything. I wished for the careful distinction, the subtlety and the subtlety that statements of faith often have on paper. As a result, I had to perforate standardized statements to make sure I could sign in good conscience or form my own by clinging closely to my intellectual, moral, and religious commitments. Secular institutions were so easy.

No more.

Contrary to what you may think, many secular organizations now need a statement of faith. They go by name diversity statements, but they act in the same way as statements of faith in religious institutions.

The ubiquity of diversity statement requirements

Many faculty positions now require diversity statements as part of an application packet. The ideal justification for this is that doing so will enhance the success of various student organizations and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on campus. Job advertising online has a short shelf life, but here are a few examples.

The Tandon School of Engineering at New York University requires all faculty applicants to include “a statement of experience or knowledge of your plans for inclusion, diversity, equity, and underlying efforts and your plans to incorporate them into your education, research, consulting and services.” Should.

At California State University, Sacramento, applicants for history jobs must submit a statement, among other things, on how candidates will advance the Department of History’s goal of “recruiting, retaining, and promoting mentors on an anti-racist and anti-bullying campus.” Students. “

For another history job, the University of Northern Arizona needs a diversity statement “that refers to the role of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in setting up a university. Please. “

Hoffstra University in New York welcomes the request of an assistant professor of sociology until the person can demonstrate his or her commitment to critical criminology, restorative justice and racial justice in the criminal justice system and show how his or her education, research and services can contribute culturally. A diverse and inclusive environment.

Notice how demanding these values ​​are. Applicants need to know the difference between inclusion, equity, diversity and inclusion. Experience is needed with each of them. They should have a track record and / or plan to include each of them in teaching, mentoring, service And Successful research applicants will be committed to developing an anti-bullying recruitment strategy. Northern Arizona even wants a plan to advance justice in education.

This example is not a delusion. Last fall the American Enterprise Institute released a report on the breadth of the DEI statement on recruitment to the university. The AEI found that by the fall of 2020, 68 percent of job advertisements mentioned diversity and 19 percent required a separate diversity statement. The number is even higher for elite schools and term-track jobs that require a statement of diversity. In some cases more diversity statements are needed than others, with political science being the most promising of the areas covered in the survey.

And this number is already two years old. Given the political climate, the proportion of positions required for diversity work is probably even higher (for example, North Carolina’s Appalachian State University is creating a summer working group to seek and evaluate DEI statements). Diversity statement is the new norm.

The similarity between belief and diversity statements

Diversity statements act like belief statements. Although they are nominally about different things, they work the same way and have the same structural effect.

First, both faith and diversity statements effectively screen potential candidates at the application stage. When I was in the job market, I often applied to a different pool in college than to grad students, including those studying in the same area. Non-Christians do not have to apply. An effective way to ensure that a statement of belief was needed is that religious people (or those who wish to pretend) are presented more in the candidate pool than ordinary PhDs. Population. In other words, the trust statement screen applicants.

The diversity statement is the same thing. I have heard from several colleagues in the job market this year who have refused to apply for specific jobs with strict diversity statement requirements. People who are less certain about the sociological problems surrounding demographic diversity or who hold non-liberal (read: non-liberal) views on diversity are discouraged from applying. Suppose you were a physicist: If you can’t tell how to incorporate diversity and inclusion in your research on nuclear fusion, you better not apply. And if the statement is not really about your research, but not about how you will teach or hire people for your research, then the request is misplaced.

Furthermore, at the screening stage, the already-narrow applicant pool may be more winning based on the contribution of diversity (or rhetoric) before considering academic credentials. Some colleges grade diversity statements with a rubric and assign applicants diversity scores as part of the first round cut. For example, if you pledge to treat all students the same, you will achieve the lowest possible score for advancing DEI at the University of California, Berkeley.

And let’s face it: Statements inviting applicants to identify themselves by race, ethnicity, gender, etc., to describe their experiences with the diversity of applicants, priming search committee members by flagging features that are considered irrelevant in a job search. The net result is that people who believe (or are willing to say) certain things about diversity are over-represented in the interview pool compared to the general job-seeking population.

Second, in a statement of belief and diversity, people must agree to a claim above their intellectual pay grade. Statements of various beliefs that I have seen online, for example, petitioners must be willing to confirm that God exists as three persons, that the Bible was irrational in its original language, that Mary was born a virgin, and that hell is a literal place of eternal torment. I submit to you that most job seekers in music and chemistry are unable to make a very good argument or proof marshal for these views (even applicants of philosophy and theology will struggle).

Diversity statements put applicants in the same position, requiring all sorts of claims that are difficult to verify. Pop Quiz: What is the difference between race and ethnicity? Most of you don’t know how to read this article. How many faculty members in accounting are able to clearly analyze the differences between inclusion, equity, diversity and inclusion (especially given the ongoing semantic narrowness of each)? Sociologists are in the best position to understand the role that racism and sexism play in society and they do not even agree. Should we expect sports medicine applicants to understand them? In short, even in the statement of diversity, people often have to claim that they do not understand or have no proof.

Let me be clear: this is not to say that many applicants do not Faith What they say about diversity, society and justice. Rather, they will not I know Instead, most scholars hold their diversity-related beliefs as matters of belief rather than evidence. As such, they are no different from applicants writing statements of religious belief for other schools.

You might think that job applicants are not expected to know too much about diversity but only indicate that they care about it. This brings a third similarity between the statement of faith and the statement of diversity: both are signs of tribal allegiance. People naturally divide the social world into groups and out-groups and we need reliable ways to tell who is who. We do this by signaling to those around us and by accepting signals from others. When a candidate says he does not support the minimum wage, it reliably indicates to the political left that he is not one of them. When a group of politicians support the use of force to inspect voting machines, it is a reliable signal of their political allegiance. Signals that are less likely to be picked up from other directions are called dog whistles.

Even if it has no effect on the applicant pool, a statement of confidence is a clear indication of where an organization’s loyalty lies. Many religious schools have adopted statements of faith and lifestyles to appease religiously basic trustees and donors or to signal potential applicants. The expectation of a diversity statement sends a similar signal of loyalty to administrators, affiliates, and donors, and the submission of a statement passionately praising the progressive ideology in DEI reliably indicates an applicant’s loyalty.

And much like a dog’s whistle, the signal goes deeper than the content made clear in the statement. It is particularly admirable that statements of faith relate to all forms of social and political allegiance; Diversity statements do the same thing. It is not that one’s views on diversity, equity and inclusion are in any way detached from the rest of one’s worldview. How you write about diversity will be a reliable indicator of how you think and teach and vote on other broad topics.

Fourth, both faith and diversity statements close the question. An open question that has not yet been answered. It’s obviously volatile. A closed question has been answered and set aside. No further inquiries are welcome on that front.

When applicants for a religious institution need to agree in advance that the earth was created in six literal days, it effectively closes the question of the origin of the universe. Anyone wishing to challenge this doctrine does not need to apply. Again, diversity statements are the same thing. If the Department of History is only willing to recruit committed applicants for the construction of an antisocial recruitment pipeline, then the question of whether it does more harm than good to the anti-racist structure is closed. If applicants had to submit a statement on how their services would break structural racism in the university, it would close the question of whether structural racism really is the root cause of our lack of racial diversity.

In short, statements of both faith and diversity artificially limit an appealing pool, asking for promises beyond our evidence, indicating our tribal loyalty and intimate questions. We should take a break to realize they have an equal. Religious colleges are non-governmental organizations that are usually at the forefront of their religious affiliation. In that sense, a statement of faith is meaningful. But a public organization needs a practically similar statement is a bad idea.

Even the question of whether it is legal to argue for diversity in public schools (not arguably) and whether it helps students to do so (there is no evidence that it does) is likely to contribute to a more intellectual polarization of the academy. While faculties are already highly progressive, and given the tendency to evaluate politically charged issues in light of our own biases, it is commendable that job applicants are more likely to have a progressive view of the nature of diversity and solutions if they need to make diversity statements. Conservative competitors are hired. This is something that anyone interested in creating a faithful, intellectually diverse and vibrant community should be concerned about.

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