D.E.I. Programs Are Getting in the Way of Liberal Education

Started by Langue_doc, July 28, 2023, 09:23:00 AM

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Stockmann

Quote from: marshwiggle on September 22, 2023, 06:54:06 AM
Quote from: Kron3007 on September 22, 2023, 05:57:11 AM
Quote from: marshwiggle on September 22, 2023, 04:54:56 AM
Quote from: Kron3007 on September 21, 2023, 11:59:22 AMIn any diversity statement I have had to write (which is becoming a frequent occurrence), it is not about agreeing that diversity is good, or saying "water is wet".  It is about outlining the tangible steps you have taken to foster a diverse and inclusive environment, ensure equitable evaluation of candidates/students, or whatever, depending on the context. 


So I'm honestly curious about how you can show "tangible steps" to "ensure" equitable evaluation of candidates/students. Every time I grade something, I could be incorporating my own biases. Saying I try to be objective isn't any sort of "tangible step". Unless the LMS is set up for some sort of random presentation of student work for grading, I will see the students' names before I evaluate them. In the lab, I will be aware of their physical characteristics as I evaluate them.

Under those conditions, what possible way is there for a person to take "tangible steps" to be objective that will be anything other than just the widely-held principle of trying to treat everyone equally?

It sounds like trying to prove you're not planning a murder; the absence of anything suggesting you are can just be taken as evidence that you're being really sneaky about it.

It's just like black helicopters and tinfoil hats. "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence."




There are many ways to make evaluations equitable. 

But it's not about making them equitable; it's trying to prove that you have made them equitable.

The Humane Course Policies that Make Life Easier thread on here exemplifies the kind of things that lots of people automatically gravitate to, but not because of the DEI police. A shameless virtue-signaller would automatically point to that about DEI, whereas to many it's just good pedagogy and not something explicitly related to DEI at all.
 

The institution could encourage flexibility whenever reasonably possible instead of requiring DEI statements - one of these things actually changes things on the ground, the other is just virtue-signaling. DEI statements are probably a lot like college admissions essays - how many of them are ghost-written/written by ChatGPT/made up (who's going to check?)/utterly insincere?

Kron3007

Quote from: apl68 on September 22, 2023, 08:01:22 AM
Quote from: Caracal on September 22, 2023, 06:38:22 AM
Quote from: Kron3007 on September 21, 2023, 01:00:52 PMI suppose, but I think that is a little off the mark. You don`t need to agree with someone`s religion or ideology to make them feel welcome in your lab.  For example, one step you could take is a flexible work schedule to facilitate prayers or religious holidays for religious people.

I am not religious in the slightest, but these are definitely accommodations I make in my group.  Personally, I think religion is kinda dumb, but that should not be reflected in my lab environment.  Likewise, religious people may hate gays or disagree with their choices, but that should not be reflected in their class, lab, etc. 

This is a good example of what inclusion and equity should mean. It would be clearly illegal if you refused to accommodate religious holidays for people in your lab, but its easy to imagine a scenario where a less thoughtful version of you makes everyone who has a religious obligation specifically request time off and you vaguely communicate the sense that while they are entitled to the accommodation, you think that religion is silly and that these people are prioritizing it in a way that you don't approve of. Honestly, even if that wasn't what you were thinking, you can see how people who need to make frequent requests might worry that you were thinking that.

Instead, by having flexible schedules, you communicate to everyone that religious beliefs and obligations aren't a barrier to their success and all that you care about is that they can do the work. Flexible schedules also are something that can help people who have non-religious obligations, like child or elder care. That's likely to indirectly make your lab a more welcoming place for people from different backgrounds of all sorts.

And DEI as understood here by you and Kron3007 makes perfect sense.  If "diversity statements" are meant to help candidates think issues like this through, then they could perhaps be a useful exercise.  If that's their purpose, then I can understand them.

I can also still understand concerns on the part of candidates that there is some sort of looked-for "right answer" when it comes to diversity statements that they need to be working toward.  Maybe there needs to be better messaging with regard to these requirements.  And fewer knee-jerk reactions all around when misunderstandings occur and concerns are aired.

From my experience, this is exactly what DEI statements are, but then they get half read and misinterpreted.  As with many things, you will find people on both extremes of this issue, then the majority of us somewhere in the middle.  The extreme ends make the most noise, and get all the air time, which generally distorts what is actually going on and the underlying intentions.

 

ciao_yall

One experience I had was, in my classes, the students would make a group and write a business plan for whatever they wanted. I noticed that many students from low-income backgrounds wanted to start a non-profit. Made sense - this was the type of organization they had a lot of direct experience with and would have a lot of ideas.

So I adapted the project requirements so that non-profits could be included, and advocated for a non-profit management certificate at our college.

Several other faculty members would not adapt their project requirements at all when I thought there was room to do so. So instead of leveraging our existing curriculum I would have had to make a whole new set of classes, and that was not going to happen.


Wahoo Redux

#48
Quote from: marshwiggle on September 22, 2023, 04:54:56 AM
Quote from: Kron3007 on September 21, 2023, 11:59:22 AMIn any diversity statement I have had to write (which is becoming a frequent occurrence), it is not about agreeing that diversity is good, or saying "water is wet".  It is about outlining the tangible steps you have taken to foster a diverse and inclusive environment, ensure equitable evaluation of candidates/students, or whatever, depending on the context. 


So I'm honestly curious about how you can show "tangible steps" to "ensure" equitable evaluation of candidates/students. Every time I grade something, I could be incorporating my own biases. Saying I try to be objective isn't any sort of "tangible step". Unless the LMS is set up for some sort of random presentation of student work for grading, I will see the students' names before I evaluate them. In the lab, I will be aware of their physical characteristics as I evaluate them.

Under those conditions, what possible way is there for a person to take "tangible steps" to be objective that will be anything other than just the widely-held principle of trying to treat everyone equally?

It sounds like trying to prove you're not planning a murder; the absence of anything suggesting you are can just be taken as evidence that you're being really sneaky about it.

It's just like black helicopters and tinfoil hats. "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence."

My CV and my cover letters have a number of "diversity initiatives," actual accomplishments, I worked on at various times.  These include reading groups and helping design an internship, work with HR, some scholarship, and classroom plans----I always include authors who are people of color on my syllabuses and/or subject matter that pertains to diversity issues in culture.  And, of course, I always include a statement about how I treat everyone with respect in the classroom bla bla bla.

A lot of people have much more.  But these are simply solid, tangible things I have worked on or been a part of that can show my "commitment to diversity"----which I truly believe in...until people become self-righteous and militant. 
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing.