College campuses are rapidly deteriorating from places to learn and grow to increasingly woke institutions that make demands on everything from course content to free speech to segregated, safe spaces, but most of these initiatives have lacked real world penalties. That may change this week, after one UC Davis professor faced immediate backlash after suggesting that mandatory diversity might not be all that beneficial for the school — or for students.
UC Davis Professor Abigail Thompson ran into trouble this week after publishing a personal opinion essay that mentioned – and criticized – the school’s forced diversity statements, which any prospective faculty members are forced to sign before being officially hired.
“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.”
Response was swift and brutal. One professor referred to Thompson’s essay and viewpoint as “grave and very damaging mistake” and called it a travesty. He also called out the math professors who published the piece in the first place; it originally appeared in a newsletter for an organization for math professors. He called for other professors to call Thompson’s place of employment and shame them for hiring her – and 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.
While the readership of a newsletter specifically for math professors is likely low, the resulting outcry has drawn attention to both Thompson’s words and the increasingly political climate on the typical college campus. The demands of the college amount to political requirements before hiring and could discriminate against applicants who have differing veiwpoints, or who simply aren’t as outrageously woke as the current climate demands.
Thompson is not the only academic to question mandatory diversity statements or what some are calling loyalty oaths. Former Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier spoke out about loyalty oaths and forced diversity statements, which he called a strike against academic integrity.
“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.”
The idea of loyalty oaths and forced statements harkens back to the communist scares and witch hunts of the 1950s — a huge step backwards for the nation’s colleges — but the lack of outrage is troubling and should be seen as a clear warning sign that colleges are headed down a dangerous path.