Posted on October 22, 2021

How ‘Diversity’ Turned Tyrannical

Lawrence Krauss, Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2021

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was supposed to host Thursday’s John Carlson Lecture on climate. MIT’s department of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences canceled the event because the speaker turned out to have expressed a dissenting opinion—though not about climate science. University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot argued in a Newsweek piece that universities’ obsession with “diversity, equity and inclusion,” or DEI, “threatens to derail their primary mission: the production and dissemination of knowledge.” {snip}

DEI efforts have been under way for decades, but recently they have come to dominate teaching and research agendas, including in the hard sciences. Many scientific disciplines, including my own area of physics, had too few women and minorities in the 1970s and ’80s. Newly established diversity offices developed procedures to counter the possibility that underlying issues might interfere with ensuring both excellence and diversity. As chairman of a physics department in the 1990s, I had to write a statement justifying each appointment we made that went to a white man.

Once entrenched, the DEI offices began to grow unchecked. They became huge and expensive offices not subject to faculty oversight and now work to impose “equity” not only by discriminating in favor of female and minority candidates but by demanding and enforcing ideological commitments from new faculty.

Traditionally, applicants for a science faculty position submit published articles, recommendations from mentors and colleagues, and a statement of their proposed research and teaching interests. {snip}

Several years ago, one began to see an additional criterion in advertisements for faculty openings. As a recent Cornell ad puts it: “Also required is a statement of diversity, equity and inclusion describing the applicant’s efforts and aspirations to promote equity, inclusion and diversity through teaching, research and service.” This sort of requirement became more common and is now virtually ubiquitous. Of the 25 most recent advertisements for junior faculty that appeared in Physics Today online listings as of Oct. 15—from research institutions like Caltech to liberal-arts colleges like Bryn Mawr, and even in areas as esoteric as quantum engineering and theoretical astrophysics—24 require applicants to demonstrate an explicit, active commitment to the DEI agenda.

This isn’t merely pro forma; it’s a real barrier to employment. The life-sciences department at the University of California, Berkeley reports that it rejected 76% of applicants in 2018-19 based on their diversity statements without looking at their research records. {snip}