A Diversity and Inclusion Statement for Liberal Studies

Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt offers a satirical view.

September 27, 2019
 
 

To: Provost JollyMolly Daft

RE: Draft of our diversity and inclusion statement

From: Department of Liberal Studies

Dear Provost Daft,

It is the hiring season again, and we have revised the diversity and inclusion statement that your administration is forcing us to add. We reluctantly do so, but in the spirit of transparency you impose (but do not hold yourself to), we would like to offer full disclosure about our campus culture to our potential job candidates. Thank you again for approving the rare tenure-track position in Liberal Studies.

Revised Statement:

We are a predominantly white, elitist and ableist liberal arts institution located on stolen Native American land in a small but beautiful rural area in Wokeland, N.Y. The campus is surrounded by hazelnut trees, peach orchards, German bakeries, French cuisine and statues of tall white cisgender wealthy men (several of whom were slaveholders) whose ill-gotten monies have helped uphold our elitism. We will be hiring a dynamic faculty for a tenure-track position in Liberal Studies.

We are legally required to say we are open to diversity, so we encourage people of color to apply so we can ultimately hire a white cisgender male candidate who (coincidentally!) had the same Ph.D. adviser as our department chair. We are especially interested in candidates willing to participate in various activities related to our collegewide symposium on “What is all this fuss about race, gender and white privilege?” generously funded by benevolent right-wing billionaires with no interest in politics.

All candidates are required to provide a brief statement about the following: a) their scholarship about social justice that can be implemented without producing any discomfort and b) anticipated contributions to our diversity and inclusion efforts related to our All Lives Matter initiatives.

We will interview promising candidates from a highly selective pool of stellar diversity candidates whom we have narrowed to the white people. This will meet the requirements of an inclusive search process required by our HR department.

Given the unlikely chance that we do hire a diversity candidate, we have made a commitment to create equal opportunities for their success. These commitments include, but are definitely not limited to:

  • various modeling appointments and Photoshopping opportunities for our public relations campaign;
  • having our newly hired candidate pose on college brochures and promotional materials to highlight our commitment to marketing diversity;
  • asking the new faculty member to respond to racist incidents on the campus; and
  • making sure they are bogged down in committee, advising and other service work we don’t ask of other new hires.

This approach is consistent with our long-term practice -- and our new dean’s reaffirmed commitment to paying lip service to diversity and inclusion.

In addition to the above requirements, candidates of color must be willing to serve as symbolic figureheads on diversity committees, where their presence will be noted, their voices unheard and their written objections to various racially biased ideas and incidents respectfully ignored.

We assure our newly hired marginalized faculty member that they will experience long periods of isolation and frequent micro-invalidation in our department and throughout the campus. This isolation will provide them with the time and space to move their research agenda forward. Our all-white faculty members in Liberal Studies have agreed to be willing participants in this isolation. (They assure us it isn’t personal; it is just about the “right fit.”)

We will interview our top 10 to 12 candidates at the National Liberal Studies Conference to be held in New Orleans from Dec. 24-27, 2019.

We look forward to receiving your application. Our commitment to diversity lip service remains a top priority.

Respectfully,

Dr. Don White (Chair, Liberal Studies)

Dr. Becky Wise

Dr. Tommy All-Smiles

Bio

Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt is the Edith Green Distinguished Professor in the English department at Linfield College in Oregon. She is the author of The Postcolonial Citizen: The Intellectual Migrant and is the lead editor of the forthcoming book Civility, Free Speech and Academic Freedom in Higher Education. Dutt-Ballerstadt frequently writes about conditions that impact underrepresented faculty in higher education, free speech issues and academic freedom. She also has a blog called On Being Brown and Out/Raged. Her previous pieces in "Conditionally Accepted" can be found here and here and most recently here.

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