Posted on January 5, 2024

How Major University Discriminated Against White and Asian Candidates

Sean O'Driscoll, Newsweek, January 4, 2024

The University of Washington has revealed that “an internal whistleblower” exposed discrimination against white and Asian job candidates in its psychology faculty.

An internal report found that a third-placed job applicant, who was Black, was given a tenure-track assistant professor job last April, above white and Asian candidates who were ranked higher in the selection process.

Other violations included excluding white staff from meetings with job candidates, deleting a passage from a hiring report to hide discrimination, and discussing ways to “think our way around” a Supreme Court ruling that barred affirmative action in colleges.

A UW spokeswoman told Newsweek on Thursday that the case was exposed when “the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, responding to an internal whistleblower, requested an internal review of this process by what was then called UCIRO (University Complaints, Investigation and Resolution Office) and is now the Civil Rights Investigation Office.”

The psychology faculty has been barred from hiring tenured staff for two years as a result.

The UW report found that when five finalists for a tenure-track assistant professor position were selected in January 2023, they were due to be interviewed by the Women Faculty and Faculty of Color groups.

The report also said a member of the Faculty of Color did not want any white women at the meeting and complained that the interviews were “awkward” when there was a white candidate. {snip}

“As a person who has been on both sides of the table for these meetings, I have really appreciated them,” the person wrote in an email. “Buuut, when the candidate is White, it is just awkward. The last meeting was uncomfortable, and I would go as far as burdensome for me. Can we change the policy to not do these going forward with White faculty?”

In 1998, Washington state passed a referendum banning race-based hiring in universities, which appears to have been ignored by the psychology department.

The report suggests that faculty members tried to hide the extent to which race was considered, including in the hiring report.


An unnamed person wrote in another email, in March, that they were inclined to hold Faculty of Color meetings just for candidates of color.


“My inclination is to hold these meetings only for POC [People of Color] candidates. I’m also mindful that our Provost is now getting anxious about anything that’s directed to only some identity groups (i.e., they are getting worried about fallout from the pending Supreme Court affirmative action rulings),” this person wrote in an email.

“My read is that they’ll get fearful of litigation and overcorrect into colorblindness. Maybe our committee can preemptively think our way around this type of future directive,” the faculty member wrote.