Phi Beta Cons

Can You Say, “Quota”?

There’s an article on Inside Higher Ed today, “Diversifying the Humanities,” that discusses growth in the number of degrees in the humanities awarded to minority students at the undergraduate level, but worries that the growth is “uneven,” since “[m]ost of the gains are attributable to Latino students.”  What’s more, there are “declines — with the exception of philosophy — in the number of doctoral degrees in the humanities awarded to minority students” (emphasis added).

Forgive me for not panicking.  Indeed, I worry less about the bean-count than I worry about the bean-counters.  Here’s the comment I posted:

Two points. First, whether the identified shortfalls are a problem or not depends on why there is a shortfall. Is it because of discrimination? Is it because of some other lack of opportunity  that can or should be addressed? Or is it because of a lack of interest in one field compared to more interest in another?

In all events, these passages are disturbing: “These declines could complicate the efforts of colleges that have pledged to make set percentages of their new hires or faculties as a whole come from minority groups.” And “This could create particular problems for departments under pressure to be sure that offerings in literature, history and other fields are taught by diverse professors.” Can you say, “Quota”? Recruiting, hiring, and promoting with an eye on skin color and national origin is illegal.


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