“Out of any state, California best embodies the American vision of universal higher education — its promises and perils.”
In a new piece at Unherd, John Sailer suggests that most of this nonsense began in the Golden State:
American colleges embrace California’s DEI model
What happens in California usually doesn’t stay in California — and that’s bad news for higher education.
In his latest piece for the New York Times, Michael Powell catalogs just how extensively the Golden State’s universities have embraced mandatory diversity statements when hiring faculty. From junior college to prestigious research university, scientists and scholars throughout the state must demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to remain in good standing.
By now, this should come as no surprise, but it is striking to see some of the most egregious ways the policy plays out. In 2016, the piece notes, at least five University of California (UC) campuses decided to initially screen faculty job applicants based only on diversity statements. For one large hiring initiative at UC Berkeley — the Life Sciences Initiative — the faculty search committee eliminated three-fourths of the applicant pool on the basis of diversity statements alone. Berkeley’s rubric for assessing diversity statements, moreover, dictates a low score for candidates who speak positively about diversity but in vague terms. Even more remarkably, it gives a low score to candidates who say they prefer to “treat everyone the same.”
All of this is especially notable because of what California represents to American public higher education. Out of any state, California best embodies the American vision of universal higher education — its promises and perils.
In 1960, UC System President Clark Kerr spearheaded the “California Master Plan for Higher Education,” an attempt to modernise the state’s system of higher education. The Master Plan institutionalised a rigidly tiered system for California’s colleges and universities, reserving the UC system for the top 12.5% of the state’s graduating high school students, the California State system for the top 33.3%, and the California Community Colleges system for everyone else.
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