Re: K-Lo’s earlier posting, Harvard invited comments on its $50 million diversity announcement. Here’s the letter the Center for Equal Opportunity sent this morning:
May 17, 2005
To whom it may concern:
Harvard is to be commended for any steps it takes to ensure that its faculty hiring and tenure decisions are based on merit and not on irrelevant characteristics such as skin color, national origin, or sex, and for improving its recruitment policies so that it casts its net far and wide in order to find the best possible candidates.
Likewise, however, Harvard should not give preferential consideration to anyone simply because she is female, or a member of an “underrepresented minority” group. To do so would be unfair and divisive; it would stigmatize all those hired or given tenure who share those characteristics and would inevitably lower the quality of the faculty (since merit is being weighed less); and it would violate federal law, including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.) and 42 U.S.C. 1981. As you know, the Ivy League has an unfortunate history of discriminating in favor of some and against others in order to ensure a predetermined racial and ethnic mix. If some groups are considered “underrepresented” (African Americans, Latinos), it follows that others must be “overrepresented” (Jews, Asians). Instead of focusing on group numbers, Harvard should simply hire and grant tenure to the best individuals.
We will be watching Harvard’s implementation of its latest announced initiative with interest, with a particular eye on the federal civil rights laws. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance.
Vice President and General Counsel
Center for Equal Opportunity