The College Fix

The College Fix | 12/5/2019 | Staff
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A mathematics professor at the University of California, Davis, has faced significant pushback for criticizing university-mandated “diversity statements,” testimonies that purportedly help determine the degree to which job applicants will be able to advance and promote diversity on campus.

Abigail Thompson, who in addition to her work at UC Davis is a vice president of the American Mathematical Society, wrote an essay for that organization’s journal in which she argued that “using a political test as a screen for job applicants should send a shiver down our collective spine.”

Phenomenon - Diversity - Statements - Years - Number

The phenomenon of “diversity statements” has been growing in recent years, with an increasing number of schools stipulating that faculty hires must list their diversity bona fides before getting hired. The University of California, Los Angeles, mandated last year that professors seeking tenure track must provide a statement demonstrating a “record of success advising women and minority graduate students.” At the University of California, San Diego, meanwhile, applicants must list their past and future efforts to “advance equity, diversity and inclusion.”

In her essay, Thompson likened the practice to a similar mandatory statement required of California university professors in the mid-20th century.

Regents - University - California - UC - Faculty

“In 1950 the Regents of the University of California required all UC faculty to sign a statement asserting: ‘I am not a member of, nor do I support any party or organization that believes in, advocates, or teaches the overthrow of the United States Government, by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional means, that I am not a member of the Communist Party,” Thompson wrote. She claimed that 31 faculty members were fired for their refusal to adopt this political statement.

“Whatever our views on diversity and how it can be achieved, mandatory diversity statements are equally misguided…Mathematics must be open and welcoming to everyone, to those who have traditionally been excluded, and...
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