UC Davis Professor Abigail Thompson is facing a backlash on campus for her decision to publish an essay in which she criticized the university’s mandatory “diversity statements” which faculty applicants must sign before they are hired.
According to a report by The College Fix, UC Davis Professor Abigail Thompson is facing a backlash across the country for her decision to pen an essay that criticizes mandatory “diversity statements” that new faculty hires are required to sign before starting work.
“Faculty at universities across the country are facing an echo of the loyalty oath, a mandatory ‘Diversity Statement’ for job applicants,” Thompson wrote in the essay. “The professed purpose is to identify candidates who have the skills and experience to advance institutional diversity and equity goals. In reality it’s a political test, and it’s a political test with teeth.”
One math professor, Chap Topaz of Williams College, called Thompson’s essay a “travesty” and a “grave and very damaging mistake” for the mathematics organization that decided to publish it. Topaz then encouraged other math professors to contact UC Davis and “shame” them for employing Thompson.
Thompson finishes the essay by arguing that it is improper for the university to impose a “political litmus test” for new hires.
The idea of using a political test as a screen for job applicants should send a shiver down our collective spine. Whatever our views on communism, most of us today are in agreement that the UC loyalty oaths of the 1950s were wrong. Whatever our views on diversity and how it can be achieved, mandatory diversity statements are equally misguided. Mathematics is not immune from political pressures on campus. In addition to David Saxon, who eventually became the president of the University of California, three mathematicians were fired for refusing to sign the loyalty oath in 1950. Mathematics must be open and welcoming to everyone, to those who have traditionally been excluded, and to those holding unpopular viewpoints. Imposing a political litmus test is not the way to achieve excellence in mathematics or in the university. Not in 1950, and not today.
Breitbart News reported in November 2018 that former Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier was speaking out against mandatory diversity statements, which he considered a violation of academic freedom.
“As a dean of a major academic institution, I could not have said this,” Flier wrote in a tweet. “But I will now. Requiring such statements in applications for appointments and promotions is an affront to academic freedom, and diminishes the true value of diversity, equity of inclusion by trivializing it.”
As a dean of a major academic institution, I could not have said this. But I will now. Requiring such statements in applications for appointments and promotions is an affront to academic freedom, and diminishes the true value of diversity, equity of inclusion by trivializing it. https://t.co/NfcI5VLODi
— Jeffrey Flier (@jflier) November 10, 2018
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