Short Take: The Acceptable Applicant’s Answers

There are questions that can’t be asked on a job application, such as what is your race.* There are questions that can.

Regardless of personal demographic characteristics, UC San Diego has a strong interest in ensuring that all candidates hired for faculty appointments share our commitment to excellence, access, and Principles of Community.

All candidates applying for faculty appointments at UC San Diego are required to submit a personal statement on their contributions to diversity. The purpose of the statement is to identify candidates who have the professional skills, experience, and/or willingness to engage in activities that will advance our campus diversity and equity goals.

The question isn’t whether you support the “campus diversity and equity goals,” but rather more specific.

The Contributions to Diversity Statement should describe your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. It should demonstrate an understanding of the barriers facing women and underrepresented minorities and of UC San Diego’s mission to meet the educational needs of our diverse student population.

As Stephen Bainbridge notes, he probably couldn’t get a job at UC San Diego. Whether that’s a bad thing is a separate question.

I suspect “none” would not be an acceptable answer. I also expect a detailed discussion of how one has tried to promote intellectual diversity within the academy by resisting the left-liberal hegemony would be even less acceptable. Just as well I’m not trying to get a job at UCSD.

Notwithstanding Bainbridge’s snark, the application presents a barrier that very few could overcome. Obviously, this is an ideological litmus test for academics, but are there any rational responses to this application question? Would anyone want to hire anyone who could provide an ideologically acceptable answer these questions?

Would you want your child taught by anyone who could get hired by UCSD?

*After being informed that I was wrong in the comments, I checked and, indeed, am wrong. An employer can inquire about race.

19 thoughts on “Short Take: The Acceptable Applicant’s Answers

  1. PseudonymousKid

    Dear Papa,

    Woah. I thought it was just diversity. When did it become “diversity, equity, and inclusion?” Equity is a funny word to use in this case, especially with diversity. Good luck synthesizing them, applicants. I’m sure the prompt is going to produce some real gems, even if it is just a loyalty oath.


    1. SHG Post author

      It’s my understanding that the word “equity” was quietly slipped in there to replace equality after they figured out equality pretty much sucked for them and equity was sufficiently vague as to justify whatever special treatment felt right. Tricky bastards.

  2. Ken Hagler

    Job applications _can_ ask what your race is, and in fact it’s really common. I’ve been applying for a bunch of jobs lately, and a large majority of them ask my race (and also sex, whether I’m disabled, and whether I’m a veteran).

    1. SHG Post author

      Well yeah, they physically can, but not lawfully.

      Edit: You are right. I am wrong. See below.

      1. Gregg

        Ken Hagler is correct: Employers can lawfully ask about race under Title VII. State laws might differ.

        Not to contribute to an arguably off-topic thread (which is the kind of thing we all know you love), but it seems strange to leave an incorrect legal statement go unchallenged on a blawg.

  3. B. McLeod

    Applications as a whole may not be subject to their open records law, but perhaps individual faculty members could be prevailed upon to disclose their successful answers to this question.

      1. Steve H

        The Contributions to Diversity Statement is pretty much just a cut-n-paste for anyone who’s written competitive applications for funding from the National Research Foundation (NSF), one of the two largest fed programs for funding research in the US.

        This reflects the long-running mission of the National Research Foundation to, among other things, stimulate “Broader Impacts.” One such Impact is to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups, e.g. “full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).”

        The classic approach is to populate your research program with undergrads and grad students from underrepresented backgrounds. So that’s one formula.

  4. wilbur

    Doesn’t sound too hard to me.

    Diversity – I eat a wide variety of foods.
    Equity – Just whip one of the ol’ maxims on them like “Between equal equities the first in order of time shall prevail”.
    Inclusion – Some of my best friends are black … er, just make that people of color. No CIS genders, Asians or Jews for me, thanks.

    1. SHG Post author

      I considered starting out by noting what a great humanitarian I am, but with my luck, it would be reviewed by a vegetarian.

        1. that david from Oz

          What are you trying to say about Little Red Riding Hood? Can’t Kanye spread his Dragon Energy here too??

  5. Skink

    Skink answers:

    Diversity–yes, my stuff is in many places.
    Equity–I have some in houses.
    Inclusion–All stuff is welcome; I’ve never turned a gift away.

    I don’t have the imagination or loss of reality to craft any other appropriate response.

  6. the other rob

    In honor of Marco Randazza, this week I shall be answering all questions as follows: DÉPEÇAGE MOTHERFUCKER!

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