CA Community Colleges proposing minimum diversity, equity standards for faculty

A proposal requires the use of DEIA considerations in employee evaluations and tenure reviews, requiring them to incorporate 'anti-racist principles' into their curriculum.

'The proposed evaluation criteria would effectively subject faculty to an ideological litmus test in violation of the First Amendment,' one expert told Campus Reform.

The Governing Board of California Community Colleges is considering a proposal that sets minimum diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) standards in the evaluation and tenure review process of its employees. 

Under this proposal, faculty would be required to include “anti-racist” principles in their curriculum.

Section 53602 of the proposal states that employees must demonstrate proficiency in DEIA competencies, as it will be taken into consideration as a “minimum standard” in the evaluation process for their performance and tenure reviews.

[Related: Promotions at University of Illinois might depend on professors’ devotion to DEI]

These DEIA competencies will contribute to an “inclusive campus and classroom culture and equitable student outcomes,” according to the document. 

Moreover, Section 53605 of the proposal, titled “Classification-Specific DEIA Obligations,” includes the DEIA duties of faculty in order to be compliant with the policy.

These obligations include the requirement of California Community Colleges’ faculty to incorporate DEIA and “anti-racist principles” into their lesson plans and curriculum in order to “respect and acknowledge” diverse students and enhance equity in terms of the results and completion of students’ classes.

Some have raised concerns about this proposal, pointing to red flags such as the infringement upon freedom of speech and academic freedom, as well as the teaching of Critical Race Theory.

Campus Reform spoke to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which confirmed that this policy violates the First Amendment. 

”The standards would infringe on faculty members’ academic freedom by compelling them to adopt certain views on politically loaded concepts like ‘equity’ and ‘intersectionality’ and to infuse these concepts into their teaching practices and curricula,” FIRE Senior Program Officer of the Individual Rights Defense Program Aaron Terr said

“This goes well beyond enforcing a college’s legal obligation to provide a discrimination-free learning environment,” he added. “It unacceptably penalizes faculty who dissent from flagrantly ideological, contested, and ill-defined frameworks for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

In addition, Executive Director of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation Wenyuan Wu told Campus Reform that this proposal  is “anti-freedom,” “anti-viewpoint-diversity,” and would “chill free speech and academic freedom,” resulting in the “bureaucratic capture of the system’s hiring and promotion processes.”

[Related: REPORT: Diversity ‘bureaucrats’ outnumber history professors at top colleges]

According to Wu, the proposal also requires its employees to devote themselves to key principles of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

“This proposal is rooted in the ideological foundation of critical race theory: faculty and employees wishing to obtain satisfactory job performance reviews or secure tenured positions must commit to navigating the ideological map situated among ‘intersectionality of social identities,’ ‘multiple axes of oppression,’ ‘minoritize(d) subordination,’ and ‘equitable student outcomes,’” she stated.

In a Mar. 21 letter sent to the Governing Board, Wu argues that this policy pushes “ideological indoctrination” and “thought conformity” from the nation’s largest higher education system.

She writes that anti-racism goes against the United States’ founding principles of meritocracy and equality and instead champions discrimination under the guise of “equity and race-based nonsolutions.” Calling the proposed changes “illiberal and toxic,” she believes they “serv[e] only to further inflame racial divisions and cover up real problems in our education system.” 

One California Community College student, Sasha Reva, stated to Campus Reform, “We as students used to learn poems, write math equations, [and] do science experiments. Now, we have to learn about ‘racial equity.’”

California Community Colleges’ proposal also states that in order to “close equity gaps,” administrations must include DEIA and anti-racist principles in existing policies, deciding where to allocate funds, how to make decisions, and reviewing programs.

Staff, as well, must integrate and advocate for these DEIA and anti-racist policies, as they will lead to a more inclusive and equitable environment, according to the proposal.

Campus Reform reached out to the Director of Communications at the California Community Colleges’ Chancellor’s Office, but did not receive a response; this article will be updated accordingly.

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