U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas got it right on Monday when the court heard arguments about affirmative action.
“I’ve heard the word diversity quite a few times and I don’t have a clue what it means,” said Thomas during oral arguments. “It seems to mean everything for everyone.”
So what does “diversity” mean to Texas colleges and universities when it comes to hiring faculty? Certainly not a diversity of viewpoints; the hiring process is now seemingly designed to eliminate job candidates who value ability and experience, for example, over immutable characteristics such as race and sex.
How? A commitment to DEI principles—“diversity, equity and inclusion”—has now been elevated to a qualification for instructor and professor positions at numerous Texas institutions of higher education.
The University of North Texas, for example, needs several English lecturers (Beginning Fiction and Early British Literature). In the job postings, in the same sentence as “CV” and list of references, is a demand for each applicant’s “diversity statement.”
That statement must describe “how you incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into your teaching practices, and how you would contribute to the development of a diverse and inclusive learning community at UNT through teaching and service.”
The implication is that a lack of proper commitment to DEI is disqualifying. (DEI has been accurately described as “a Trojan horse for neo-Marxist ideology.”)
That push isn’t limited to Texas, of course. And as John Sailer at the National Association of Scholars points out, it’s not just in English departments. The contagion of critical race theory-inspired policies has spread throughout U.S. colleges and universities.
“An understated trend in higher ed is the influx of faculty jobs that focus on race, gender, identity, and critical theory,” Sailer noted on Twitter. “These have become the hottest areas, the specialties most likely to land a job. On top of that, of course, most of these roles require diversity statements.”
Teachers of all subjects are rewarded for focusing their coursework on race and identity; graduate students are rewarded for their own focus on CRT and DEI in their future job prospects, and faculty research on race and intersectionality is lauded—and funded, Sailer adds.
“Of course, scholars should be able to study race and gender,” Sailer notes. “Universities shouldn’t ban scholars from focusing on critical race theory. But when a majority of a random sampling of jobs are like these, it starts to resemble a political agenda.”
But as Justice Thomas pointed out, there’s no good definition of diversity—and, as Justice Amy Coney Barrett added, there’s no metric for when proper diversity has been achieved.
“When does it end?” Justice Barrett asked. “What is your sunset?”
An even better question is where did this begin? How did CRT and DEI become so entrenched in academia, the business world and even the U.S. military?
“Not long ago, these spheres seemed to depend on totally different virtues such as courage, wisdom, temperance and ingenuity,” write Scott Yenor and Max Eden for the American Enterprise Institute.
Not anymore. Not since Republican Vice President Dan Quayle proclaimed in 1992 that “diversity is our strength.”
Now, it appears, the things we can’t change—our skin color, our ethnicity, our sex and our socioeconomic status—are what’s truly important. And to challenge this belief is to risk your career.
“Few public intellectuals or politicians have been willing to directly criticize diversity, equity or inclusion as such,” Yenor and Eden note.
The Texas Legislature has a role to play here. Lawmakers can simply prohibit the use of DEI statements in public college and university hiring practices. (The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board could likely do the same thing, but a quick look at THECB’s website shows the agency is steeped in the ideology.)
There’s nothing wrong with having a diverse workforce, and every child should be able to see a successful American citizen—whether that’s a college professor or an entrepreneur or a skilled craftsman—who looks like them. But that’s not what DEI requirements work toward. Instead, DEI requirements serve to weed out those who reject the rampant race essentialism that has taken over college campuses.
It’s another Bush-era saying that applies here—character counts. Filling our colleges and universities with the best and most engaging teachers, regardless of their ethnicity or political beliefs, is what will make Texas higher education the best in the world.