Saturday, July 16, 2011

Budgets may be cut but diversity positions just keep growing

Heather MacDonald has a depressing account of the growth of diversity positions in the University of California system. They may be forced to make all sorts of cutbacks in the system including cutting out quite a few academic programs while raising tuition for students. But they just keep expanding the bureaucracy responsible for making sure that diversity is celebrated on campus and minorities and women keep getting jobs.
California’s budget crisis has reduced the University of California to near-penury, claim its spokesmen. “Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone,” the university system’s vice president for budget and capital resources warned earlier this month, in advance of this week’s meeting of the university’s regents. Well, not exactly to the bone. Even as UC campuses jettison entire degree programs and lose faculty to competing universities, one fiefdom has remained virtually sacrosanct: the diversity machine.

Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing. The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.
It goes on and on at all the campuses in the UC system. They have positions to make sure that the faculty are doing research into diversity subjects. They have positions to make sure that members of all these groups feel comfortable and included. They have new requirements for students to study diversity and students' own "understanding of her or his identity" as required courses for graduations. Meanwhile, they've cut entire master's programs at, for example UC San Diego, which cut the master's degree in electrical and computer engineering as well as comparative literature and courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature. Those courses in literature are not as crucial as requiring students to explore their own identities. Meanwhile, students are less interested in taking all the ethnic studies, gay studies and gender studies courses as it has dawned on the students at least that such courses don't tend to lead to jobs unless they get a job enforcing diversity requirements in the UC system.

One thing that these groups do to justify their existence is to pressure all the departments to hire more minority and female professors. And the only reason entertained for such failure is bigotry, not lack of qualified applicants.
The one observable activity performed by these lavishly funded diversity bureaucrats is to pressure academic departments to hire more women and minorities. (Even that activity is superfluous, given the abundant pressure for race and gender quotas already exerted by campus groups, every accrediting agency, and external political bodies.) Should a department fail to satisfy—as it inevitably will in every field with low minority participation—only one explanation is possible: a departmental or campus “climate” hostile to diversity, which then requires more intercessions from the diversity bureaucracy. The fact that every other college and university in the country is scouring the horizon for the identical elusive cache of qualified female and minority hires is not allowed into the discourse. Even less acceptable is any recognition of the academic achievement gap between black and Hispanic students, on the one hand, and white and Asian students, on the other, which affects the pool of qualified faculty candidates in fields with remotely traditional scholarly prerequisites. Student admissions offices are under the same pressure, which in California results in the constant generation of new schemes for “holistic” admissions procedures designed to evade the ban on racial and gender preferences that California voters enacted in 1996.
Such diversity czars seem more and more entrenched in the university bureaucracy. They hold more power than professors and whole departments. I wonder how many California taxpayers would be supportive of such an allocation of scarce resources. But what the citizens of California wish for is irrelevant once the diversity mavens get into power.