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Cornell Alumni Group Takes Aim at ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ Statements in Hiring

Cornell Alumni Group Takes Aim at ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ Statements in Hiring

“The concern with DEI statements is that they send a message that adopting a group identity ideology is mandatory, as DEI focuses on group identities”

There is a lot of this going around right now. Professor Jacobson is quoted in the article.

The Daily Caller reports:

‘Appalling Reality’: Elite Alumni Set To Strike Down Mandatory Diversity Statements For University Hiring

Cornell University alumni are preparing to launch a campaign against the use of diversity statements in faculty hiring, an email obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation revealed.

The Cornell Free Speech Alliance (CFSA) is putting together a series of short, educational videos to inform fellow alumni about how diversity statements are used to hire faculty at the elite New York school, the email—sent to CFSA and Alumni Free Speech Alliance members by Carl Neus, a Cornell alum—reads. The series will be sent to “Cornell alumni members and followers to inform our many thousands of followers, supporters, and members regarding the atrocities now occurring at US universities.”

The course will allegedly include a 30-minute video featuring Daniel Ortner, former Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) attorney, titled “How DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) Can Lead To Tyranny.” The video was published July 2022 by California Insider…

“If the university did not think DEI statements were an important part of the hiring and promotion process, the university would not place such a heavy emphasis on such statements,” William Jacobson, director of the securities law clinic at Cornell, told the DCNF.

Cornell’s strictness on the importance of diversity statements wavered in 2022, archived versions of the website reveal. The university required applicants to submit diversity statements in the early months of 2022, but apparently changed the requirement in December to ask that they be submitted.

“The concern with DEI statements is that they send a message that adopting a group identity ideology is mandatory, as DEI focuses on group identities,” Jacobson said. “While the statement guidelines do not dictate precisely what an applicant must say, it is clear that adopting a DEI group identity viewpoint is expected. This serves as a means of filtering out applicants who adhere to the viewpoint that individual, and not group, rights are what matter. It also serves to provide a mechanism for weeding out those who have different political and ideological viewpoints than the prevailing Cornell liberal/leftist monoculture.”


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Steven Brizel | March 9, 2023 at 8:35 am

This is a welcome sign at an Ivy League school that has been beset by identity politics since the late 1960s

    You are correct Steve but I fear it is too late. As a Cornell alum I have watched the descent into this mindless monoculture ever since that armed takeover of the student union in the late 1960’s, about which the spineless President at the time did nothing. Nothing. At this point the entire university administration, and most of the Trustees, faculty and student body, have become part of the Kendi Cult. I am now donating to Hillsdale College and Prager U.

      gibbie in reply to Sultan. | March 9, 2023 at 11:50 pm

      As a Cornell alum who was there (Physics ’71), my current understanding is that in 1969 the administration had a choice between capitulation and bloodshed. I suggest you read “Cornell ’69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University” by Donald A. Downs. President Perkins was dealing with his wife’s brain cancer as well as a massive tantrum of adolescent fools. Faculty were getting death threats (common now, but not then).

      I think that the system design of the modern university is fatally flawed. The idea of placing an ever larger number of foolish adolescents (including some faculty and administrators) in a small geographic area is unworkable – and not just in the US. Remember the barricades at the Sorbonne. A new system of higher education is needed. The “hallowed halls” have become the object of idol worship. They are no longer worthy.

        Sultan in reply to gibbie. | March 13, 2023 at 8:36 am

        gibbie, I took your advice and just ordered that book from Amazon. I will read it but I did follow the events as they unfolded, albeit from afar. I disagree that the choices were capitulation or bloodshed, but if they were, I would not have chosen capitulation and would have made sure that the bloodshed was on the part of the radical gun-toting students. President Perkins was a weak person without a compass.
        You may be right that any effort to bring sanity and fairness to Cornell, in a very far-Left state, is doomed to failure, but even the effort will bear fruit down the road and who knows? The NYState Human Rights Law might be applied as it was intended.

The root problem is homophily — college profs (almost exclusively) tend to hire members of their own clan. DEI statements are just one of many indicators of clan membership. They are not needed to differentiate members of tribes — classical liberals stick out as different no matter what. DEI statements may keep the number of applications down by signaling that the non-Woke need not apply but their applications are easily tossed aside. What is needed is a mandate, definitely in public schools but arguably all publicly funded ones, that they need to hire the BEST applicant. Then we could at least explicitly fight over what the BEST means and get schools to articulate that for parents, students, alums, grantors, and legislators.

The Daily Caller story is very unclear and perhaps premature. Is there a definite plan? Which decision-makers is it targeting? In general, when groups such as the ACLU, FIRE, Speech First, NAACP etc start such a campaign, they have a legal strategy in place and raise the threat of litigation if a satisfactory resolution is not achieved? Here, there seems to be a group with the access to one short video, but nothing more. If Cornell calls the bluff, what will happen? Will someone sue? Are there willing plaintiffs with standing? Will a university in the middle of a state with a very liberal governor be able to defend its position in a way that is not possible in Texas or Florida?

If I were in charge of a nation-wide effort to curb such practices, I would not Cornell and New York State to be my first test case.

I have the utmost respect for Bill Jacobson, but this idea does not rise to the level of his prior efforts. I suspect that he is not involved. (Indeed, it is easier to raise issues in Rhode Island, which is far away from one’s employer.

“The concern with DEI statements is that they send a message that adopting a group identity ideology is mandatory, as DEI focuses on group identities,”

This is a concise and accurate statement of the problem. Very helpful.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to gibbie. | March 13, 2023 at 10:17 pm

    Also exactly the point.

    Adopting a group identity is mandatory. And we get to tell you that, becasue we are the boss of you.

    Any questions?