2020's worst examples of university hiring bias

Since the death of George Floyd, colleges and universities furthered their commitment to affirmative action and diversity quotas.

Even as universities have suffered major economic losses due to COVID-19, they have created more paid diversity positions.

Those who have dissented against diversity mandates have been accused of threatening the safety of underrepresented groups.

1. Pratt Institute offers paid position as a BLM Graduate Assistantship

During and after the racial unrest of this year, universities across the nation decreed their commitment to progressive goals and some gave their full endorsement to the Black Lives Matter movement. However, the Black Lives Matter chapter at the Pratt Institute in New York City upped the ante by directly paying a Graduate student to promote the BLM agenda.

With a pay of $16 an hour, the Graduate Assistant is expected to assist the planning of BLM events, promote the chapter on social media and archive artifacts from all those BLM events. 

Pratt BLM’s website states that part of the chapter’s curriculum is to, “encourage and collaborate with faculty members to incorporate the #BlackLivesMatter movement into their class curriculum.”

2. Harvard job posting: ‘Librarian for Antiracism’ will make at least $133,300

Harvard University created a one of a kind position within its library: Associate University Librarian for Anti-racism. With a salary between $133,300 and $240,300 per year, according to the job posting on Harvard’s official LinkedIn page, candidates are expected to have a graduate degree and “direct experience with systemic challenges faced by underrepresented groups.”

The associate librarian will “engage as a thought-leader” and “change systems, structures, policies, practices and individual behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism.” This position falls in line with Harvard’s creation of new assignments for anti-racism and the library’s new commitment to anti-racism. In September, the library appointed the first “Anti-Black Racism Librarian/Archivist.”

The creation of these positions comes after the Harvard Graduate School of Education paused doctoral admissions for fall 2021 due to financial strain. The university also saw about a 20 percent drop in enrollment while the university maintained its $1,923 increase in tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

3. Despite financial woes, Ivy League school hires SECOND diversity czar

The University of Pennsylvania announced earlier this summer plans to establish a new senior administrative position: the “Vice President for Social Equity and Community.” The university’s current Chaplain assumed the role in August.

This position is expected to work with the Chief Diversity Officer, “to support the University’s culture of inclusive understanding and social impact.”

The Chief Diversity Officer earned more than $580,000 in total compensation for the fiscal year ending June 2018. It is unclear how much the new position will make, but other vice presidents earned between $300,000 and $800,000 during the same fiscal year.

After likely dedicating two six-figure salaries to these positions, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences cited budgetary concerns for halting admissions to the school funded Ph.D. programs for the 2021-2022 school year. UPenn raised its tuition by 3.9 percent for the fall 2020 semester.

4. Princeton profs want ‘repercussions’ for not hiring ‘faculty of color’

After Princeton faculty grew frustrated with the “inaction” of the university against “anti-blackness,’’ they penned a letter of demands to the university’s leadership. One of their demands: the university should “enforce repercussions (as in, no hires) for departments that show no progress in appointing faculty of color.” If departments do not show their efforts toward creating “a diverse candidate pool,” the group says the university should deny any “search authorization applications and offers.”

The letter also states that the departments that show “a track record of supporting faculty of color” should be rewarded with full-time employment, prizes, course releases and summer salary. This includes departments such as African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies.

In September, the Department of Education launched a Title VI investigation into the university after an open letter from President Christopher Eisgruber claimed racism is “embedded” in the institution.

5. U Chicago prof faces backlash after questioning diversity hires

In November, University of Chicago Professor of Geophysical Sciences Dorian Abbot published a series of videos on YouTube that questioned the effectiveness of diversity hires along with the university’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. 

Affiliates of the Geophysical Sciences Department responded with a letter that gained 162 signatures. It accused Abbot of threatening the safety of underrepresented groups along with stating that his criticism represented “an aggressive act.”

The letter demanded that the department rescind Abbot’s privileges as Department Website and Social Media Committee Chair and reevaluate his popular course “Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast” so that Abbot is removed as “the face of our department.”

University President Robert Zimmer defended free expression for Abbot in a statement by saying, “The University is committed to creating an inclusive environment where diversity is not only represented but individuals are empowered to fully participate in the exchange of ideas and perspectives.”  

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