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Aren’t the Folks at MIT Supposed to Be Smart?



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There’s an Inside Higher Ed article today about a new MIT report on increasing faculty diversity. Here are the comments I just posted on IHE’s website:

Coincidentally, I just wrote an essay on “Another Bad Idea: `Diversifying’ Science Faculties” for Minding the Campus.

At the outset, I acknowledge: “Taking steps to ensure that the best possible individuals apply and are hired is fine — indeed, that’s precisely what the whole process should be about. Casting your recruiting net far and wide is a good idea, as is reassessing your recruiting policies to make sure that you are not overlooking good sources of candidates. Reevaluating selection criteria from time to time is, likewise, unobjectionable; if some criteria are weighed too heavily or not heavily enough, with the result that the best individuals are not selected, then that needs to be fixed. And, of course, everyone involved in the selection process, from beginning to end, needs to be told that the best individuals, regardless of skin color or national origin, are to be picked.”

The problem is that the authors of the MIT report do not want the best individuals, regardless of skin color or national origin, to be picked. They want a predetermined racial and ethnic mix (“diversity”), and are happy for there to be subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination in order to achieve it. My essay discusses why such discrimination is bad policy — and illegal. A useful tool to use as one plows through the MIT report is to substitute “underrepresented white men” every time you read “underrepresented minorities” and ask whether what’s being proposed is persuasive as a matter of policy and passes legal muster.

Let me also recommend the collected writings of John Rosenberg on the topic of diversifying science faculties, links to which are collected here.



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