University of Chicago
American universities are undergoing a profound transformation that threatens to derail their primary mission: the production and dissemination of knowledge. The new regime is titled "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" or DEI, and is enforced by a large bureaucracy of administrators. Nearly every decision taken on campus, from admissions, to faculty hiring, to course content, to teaching methods, is made through the lens of DEI. This regime was imposed from the top and has never been adequately debated. In the current climate it cannot be openly debated: the emotions around DEI are so strong that self-censorship among dissenting faculty is nearly universal.
The words "diversity, equity and inclusion" sound just, and are often supported by well-intentioned people, but their effects are the opposite of noble sentiments. Most importantly, "equity" does not mean fair and equal treatment. DEI seeks to increase the representation of some groups through discrimination against members of other groups. The underlying premise of DEI is that any statistical difference between group representation on campus and national averages reflects systemic injustice and discrimination by the university itself. The magnitude of the distortions is significant: for some job searches discrimination rises to the level of implicitly or explicitly excluding applicants from certain groups.
DEI violates the ethical and legal principle of equal treatment. It entails treating people as members of a group rather than as individuals, repeating the mistake that made possible the atrocities of the 20th century. It requires being willing to tell an applicant "I will ignore your merits and qualifications and deny you admission because you belong to the wrong group, and I have defined a more important social objective that justifies doing so." It treats persons as merely means to an end, giving primacy to a statistic over the individuality of a human being.
DEI compromises the university's mission. The core business of the university is the search for truth. A university's intellectual environment depends fundamentally on its commitment to hiring the most talented and best trained minds: any departure from this commitment must come at the expense of academic excellence, and ultimately will compromise the university's contribution to society. This point is particularly urgent given that DEI considerations often reduce the pool of truly eligible candidates by a factor of two or more.