Someone on the twitts posted an objection:
to UCSD's policy of requiring applicants for faculty positions to supply a Statement of Contribution to Diversity with their application.
Mark J Perry linked to his own blog piece posted at the American Enterprise Institute* with the following observation:
All applicants for faculty positions at UCSD now required to submit a Contribution to Diversity Statement (aka Ideological Conformity Statements/Pledge of Allegiance to Left-Liberal Orthodoxy Statements)
Then some other twitter person chimed in with opinion on how this policy was unfair because it was so difficult for him to help his
postdocs students with it.
Huh? A simple google search lands us on UCSD's page on this topic.
The Contributions to Diversity Statement should describe your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. It should demonstrate an understanding of the barriers facing women and underrepresented minorities and of UC San Diego’s mission to meet the educational needs of our diverse student population.
The page has links to a full set of guidelines [PDF] as well as specific examples in Biology, Engineering and Physical Sciences (hmm, I wonder if these are the disciplines they find need the most help?). I took a look at the guidelines and examples. It's pretty easy sailing. Sorry, but any PI who is complaining that they cannot help their postdocs figure out how to write the required statement are
lying being disingenuous. What they really mean is that they disagree with having to prepare such a statement at all.
Like this guy Bieniasz, points for honesty:
I am particularly perplexed with this assertion that "The UCSD statement instructions (Part A) read like a test of opinions/ideology. Not appropriate for a faculty application".
Ok, so is it a test of opinion/ideology? Let's go to the guidelines provided by UCSD.
Describe your understanding of the barriers that exist for historically under-represented groups in higher education and/or your field. This may be evidenced by personal experience and educational background. For purposes of evaluating contributions to diversity, under-represented groups (URGs) includes under-represented ethnic or racial minorities (URM), women, LGBTQ, first-generation college, people with disabilities, and people from underprivileged backgrounds.
Pretty simple. Are you able to understand facts that have been well established in academia? This only asks you to describe your understanding. That's it. If you are not aware of any of these barriers *cough*Ginther*cough*cough*, you are deficient as a candidate for a position as a University professor.
So the first part of this is merely asking if the candidate is aware of things about academia that are incredibly well documented. Facts. These are sort of important for Professors and any University is well within it's rights to probe factual knowledge. This part does not ask anything about causes or solutions.
Now the other parts do ask you about your past activities and future plans to contribute to diversity and equity. Significantly, it starts with this friendly acceptance: "Some faculty candidates may not have substantial past activities. If such cases, we recommend focusing on future plans in your statement.". See? It isn't a rule-out type of thing, it allows for candidates to realize their deficits right now and to make a statement about what they might do in the future.
Let's stop right there. This is not different in any way to the other major components of a professorial hire application package. For most of my audience, the "evidence of teaching experience and philosophy" is probably the more understandable example. Many postdocs with excellent science chops have pretty minimal teaching experience. Is it somehow unfair to ask them about their experience and philosophy? To give credit for those with experience and to ask those without to have at least thought about what they might do as a future professor?
Is it "liberal orthodoxy" if a person who insists that teaching is a waste of time and gets in the way of their real purpose (research) gets pushed downward on the priority list for the job?
What about service? Is it rude to ask a candidate for evidence of service to their Institutions and academic societies?
Is it unfair to prioritize candidates with a more complete record of accomplishment than those without? Of course it is fair.
What about scientific discipline, subfield, research orientations and theoretical underpinnings? Totally okay to ask candidates about these things.
Are those somehow "loyalty pledges"? or a requirement to "conform to orthodoxy"?
If they are, then we've been doing that in the academy a fair bit with nary a peep from these right wing think tank types.
*"Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan's Flint campus." This is a political opinion-making "think-tank" so take that into consideration.