If Albert Einstein applied for a professorship at UCLA today, would he be hired? The answer is not clear. Starting this fall, all faculty applicants to UCLA must document their contributions to “equity, diversity and inclusion.” (Next year, existing UCLA faculty will also have to submit an “equity, diversity and inclusion statement” in order to be considered for promotion, following the lead of five other UC campuses.) The mandatory statements will be credited in the same manner as the rest of an applicant’s portfolio, according to UCLA’s equity, diversity and inclusion office.
A contemporary Einstein may not meet the suggested evaluation criteria. Would his “job talk” — a presentation of one’s scholarly accomplishments — reflect his contributions to equity, diversity and inclusion? Unlikely. Would his research show, in the words of the evaluation template, the “potential to understand the barriers facing women and racial/ethnic minorities?” Also unlikely. Would he have participated in “service that applies up-to-date knowledge to problems, issues and concerns of groups historically underrepresented in higher education?” Sadly, he may have been focusing on the theory of general relativity instead. What about “utilizing pedagogies addressing different learning styles” or demonstrating the ability to “effectively teach and attract students from underrepresented communities”? Again, not at all guaranteed.
As the new mandate suggests, UCLA and the rest of the University of California have been engulfed by the diversity obsession. The campuses are infatuated with group identity and difference. Science and the empirical method, however, transcend just those trivialities of identity that UC now deems so crucial: “race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status,” to quote from the university’s Diversity Statement. The results of that transcendence speak for themselves: an astounding conquest of disease and an ever-increasing understanding of the physical environment. Unlocking the secrets of nature is challenge enough; scientists (and other faculty) should not also be tasked with a “social justice” mission.