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Some Advice for University Officials — and Happy Thanksgiving!

Yale launches five-year, $50 million initiative to increase faculty diversity

Each campus protest is different, and the demands in each are different, too. Some are illegal (racial quotas for faculty hiring), some are themselves otherwise racist and divisive (demands of acknowledgment of “white privilege”), some might even be worth considering (though even a reasonable demand should not be considered if violently or otherwise illegally made).

But here’s an easy one from Dartmouth: If protestors assault other students and deliberately keep them from studying — the only thing students are really supposed to have to do at a university — then the president should call in the police, and the thugs should be arrested by the latter and expelled by the former.

My friend Hans Bader also notes that what happened at Dartmouth was not just a disruption but a racist disruption, and that black-on-white racial harassment has been recognized by the courts as a violation of the law, just as white-on-black racial harassment is.  (For those who would like to look that up, he cites Bowen v. Missouri Dept. of Social Services, 311 F.3d 878 (Eighth Cir. 2002), and Huckabay v. Moore, 142 F.3d 233 (Fifth Cir. 1998).)  So where are the education reporters, to say nothing of the Obama administration officials, who profess to be so concerned about campus racism?

Yale to Spend $50 Million on Faculty Diversity – Yale has announced  that it will spend $50 million over the next five years in order to improve its faculty’s “diversity.” 

One expects that this money will be used not to increase the number of Republicans, conservatives, or evangelical Christians, but to make more hiring and promotion decisions based on race, ethnicity, and sex.  As the Chronicle of Higher Education noted in its story, “Yale faced criticism last month for a lack of racial diversity among its faculty members. According to … The Yale Daily News, a poster put up on the campus called attention to statistics reflecting a much higher representation of minorities among undergraduate students than among professors.” 

But as I noted in my post to the Chronicle article:  “I hope that Yale’s (my alma mater’s) general counsel is involved, since it is illegal to weigh race, ethnicity, and sex in the hiring and promotion of faculty. The ‘diversity’ exception that has been carved out of the law for student admissions does not apply to employment discrimination law. More here.”

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To make sure that Alexander Dreier, Yale’s general counsel, was involved, I sent him this letter:

Dear Mr. Dreier,

I just read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about Yale’s decision to spend $50 million on faculty diversity.

We hope and expect that your office is in the loop on this, and that you can help caution your colleagues that it is illegal to weigh race, ethnicity, and sex in the hiring and promotion of faculty. The "diversity" exception that has been carved out of the law for student admissions does not apply to employment discrimination law.  [Cite provided.]

We hasten to add that widening your recruitment nets and ensuring that all candidates are treated nondiscriminatorily is of course fine – but discrimination in the politically correct direction is likewise illegal.

Many thanks,

Roger Clegg
President and General Counsel
Center for Equal Opportunity
YLS, 1977

I received this response:

Dear Mr. Clegg:

Thank you for your message and your interest in Yale's faculty recruitment efforts.  Yale does not discriminate in the hiring or promotion of faculty based on race, ethnicity, sex or any other protected characteristic.  The university believes that an excellent faculty is a diverse faculty and will continue to use lawful means to attain excellence along all relevant dimensions.

Kind regards,

Alexander E. Dreier
Vice President and General Counsel
Yale University

I thanked Mr. Dreier for his “prompt and reassuring response.”

Obama Administration Weighs in on Fisher IIPredictably, the Obama administration has filed an amicus brief in Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas, defending the university’s use of racial  and ethnic preferences in admissions, and it has asked to participate at oral argument. Neither the brief nor the oral-argument request is a surprise: It did both the last time around, too, when the case was before the Supreme Court.  And to show how strongly the administration feels, no fewer than twelve lawyers signed the brief, six from the Justice Department and six from a variety of other agencies.  

The brief’s basic idea is that students learn so much from other students and that being exposed to a diversity of ideas is essential in education, and so therefore we must have a diversity of student skin colors, since how we think is determined by what our skin color is. Of course, this is not true; what’s more, it is flatly at odds with the University of Texas’s use of race here, since the schol is arguing that it has to use racial preferences precisely because poor blacks do not provide the same kind of diversity that well-to-do African Americans do (that is, it is trying to justify the use of racial preferences on top of its policy of admitting the top ten percent of all high-school graduates by arguing that this policy doesn’t yield enough high-SES African Americans).

The administration says the case is of particular interest to the federal government because the federal government itself needs diversity:  The military can’t have a lot of white guys bossing around people of color, law-enforcement officials must reflect their communities, and there must also be diverse doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs — well, maybe not Indian chiefs.  But even if all this were true — and it is not — then why do the schools from which the federal government hires have to be diverse?  The federal government, after all, doesn’t hire from only one school. 

Finally, I found especially odd this stirring passage from the brief, trumpeting the need for students to “develop — through exposure to people from a multitude of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences — a capacity to appreciate their fellow citizens as individuals, not as representatives of a particular group, and to forge relationships and pursue shared goals that transcend stereotypes and prejudice.” 

Odd, that is, to read how we must use racial essentialism to teach the message that racial essentialism is a bad thing.

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It wouldn’t be right to send an email so near to Turkey Day without some ornithological reference, and I’m happy to oblige.  The University of North Dakota recently—but after a long, long fight—changed its mascot from the “Fighting Sioux” to the “Fighting Hawks.”  I wrote a short piece on this, which I titled, “Ice People Privilege Non-Vegan Macroaggressors.”

I would add that, what’s worse, those getting unprivileged are Native Americans — and right at Thanksgiving, no less!  Read all about it here.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours — and without regard to race, color, or national origin!