Thursday, January 12, 2023

Diversity Thursday

Unless you have kids of college age like I do, you may not be up to speed with just how far things have gone.

Some of you were a little shocked with what we covered back in September about the goings on at the US Naval Academy.

They're playing catch up, really. There is a lot worse going on at USNA that I am not at liberty to share (sources and methods, etc) - but trust me, it is getting worse as the faculty and leadership there chase the latest trends at other government and private universities.

Shall we check in on what is going on in larger academia? Why, yes, we should. It is coming your way sooner more than later.

Here's a little pull quote from an extensive report by John Sailer over at The Free Press, How DEI Is Supplanting Truth as the Mission of American Universities

Many American college students are now required to take DEI, anti-racism, or social justice courses. At Georgetown, all undergraduates must take two Engaging Diversity courses. At Davidson College, the requirement goes under the title of Justice, Equality, and Community, which students can fulfill by taking courses like Racial Capitalism & Reproduction and Queer(ing) Performance. Northern Arizona University recently updated its general education curriculum to require nine credit hours of “diversity perspectives” courses, including a unit on “intersectional identities.” 

DEI is also becoming a de facto academic discipline. In 2021, Bentley University in Massachusetts created a DEI major. Last year, the Wharton School announced its introduction of a DEI concentration for undergraduates and a DEI major for MBA students.

Meantime, the open faculty position listings at universities across the country illustrate how a focus on race, gender, social justice, and critical theory can be crucial to landing a job. Last year, the University of Houston–Downtown sought an instructor in Early Modern British Literature, including Shakespeare, with a preferred specialization in “critical race studies.” At Wake Forest University, an applicant for assistant professor of Spanish should be someone “whose critical perspectives are linked to the experiences of groups historically underrepresented in higher education in ways that inform and influence their pedagogical approach.” Williams College recently sought an assistant professor of German who works “in the areas of migration, race and anti-racism, post- and decolonial approaches, disability, and/or memory studies.”

These imperatives often come from the top. In May, the Board of Governors for California Community Colleges (CCC), the largest system of higher education in the country, decreed that every employee—faculty, staff, and administrators—must be evaluated for their “diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility” competencies. Each district in the system ultimately decides how to enforce the new rule, but the Chancellor’s Office released a list of recommended competencies. It suggested faculty create a curriculum that “promotes a race-conscious and intersectional lens” and advocate for “anti-racist goals and initiatives.”

What can be done? Is there anyway to get this nightmare back in the bottle?

Well, yes - but while simple, it isn't easy.

For decades conservatives retreated from and were pushed out of the institutions. Conservative leaders did nothing. From your local university to the Boy Scouts to Annapolis, those who others who were relied on to hold the line surrendered every hill that they decided was not worth fighting for. Now their enemies hold all the high ground and they are surrounded.

Lesson learned here; no longer support that kind of "leader." You know, the kind who accepts the slander against them and their allies in silence, and are more willing to deal with their enemies than they are in supporting their friends.

Look for leaders who not only know what time it is, but don't care what names they are called and will take action.

You know, like Governor Ron DeSantis of the Free State of Florida;

...DeSantis announced the appointment of six new board members at the small Sarasota college, many of whom were ultra-conservative political players and academics. Sharf, a trans woman, said that she returned to shore—and her phone—to find it had blown up with messages from people telling her the news.

“I got really sad and then just, like, laid down,” she told The Daily Beast.

Among the appointees on Friday were Charles R. Kesler, a professor and editor for a publication of the far-right Claremont Institute; Mark Bauerlein, a Trump-allied Emory University professor; and Matthew Spalding, a professor at conservative Christian University Hillsdale College in Michigan.

“It is our hope that New College of Florida will become Florida’s classical college… more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the South,” DeSantis chief of staff James Uthmeier told the right-wing Daily Caller, laying out their plan.

But what immediately caught Sharf’s eye were tweets by incoming board member Christopher Rufo, who only days before had declared that “Gov. DeSantis is going to lay siege to university ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ programs.” In addition to being perhaps the key figure behind the bogus right-wing backlash to mostly nonexistent use of “critical race theory” in schools, Rufo has also been an avid opponent of what he calls “radical gender theory” in education. And among other appeals that form part of his admittedly ruthless political playbook, he has issued callouts on Twitter for “documents, PDFs, audio-video, and training materials related to gender, grooming, and trans ideology in schools.”

Yes, I pulled the quote from The Daily Beast, because their tears are precious to me.

A better bio of the players can be found here.

The Governor's spokesman;

In a state full of large public universities, the New College of Florida stands out as an anomaly. With just under 700 students, the liberal arts college is by far the smallest of the 12 institutions that make up the State University System of Florida.

Because of its size, NCF has been in the crosshairs of the state Legislature in recent years, with lawmakers arguing that it’s too expensive to operate. A failed 2020 bill would have stripped NCF of its independence and made the college part of Florida State University.

DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin said by email that New College of Florida “is a public institution with a statutorily stated mission of ‘provid[ing] a quality education.’ Unfortunately, like so many colleges and universities in America, this institution has been completely captured by a political ideology that puts trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning. In particular, New College of Florida has reached a moment of critical mass, wherein low student enrollment and other financial stresses have emerged from its skewed focus and impractical course offerings.”

We'll see what happens ... but imagine a Chief Executive actually pushing back against the illiberal left on campus and giving taxpayers and option in education. 

There is hope - you just need to vote for it.

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