Saturday, May 13, 2017

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Decides to Violate The 1964 Civil Rights Act

Inside Higher Ed reports:
Big-budget diversity initiatives on a number of campuses have drawn praise and skepticism in recent years. The praise sounds like this: money dedicated to a cause signals its value and enables needed change. The skepticism centers on questions such as whether all students will benefit from, say, the hiring of 20 new professors who contribute to an institution’s diversity goals, or whether well-funded campuses will simply poach inclusion-attuned scholars from others, leaving winners and losers.

What if there was a more efficient, inexpensive way for institutions to live up to their diversity and inclusion goals? An unlikely institution says it has one.

“After 30 years in administration, I don’t have much tolerance for window dressing or lip service. If you’re going to put a value out there, you need to do something with it,” said James Schmidt, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and champion of its new policy requiring that all periodic evaluations of staff and faculty members -- including tenure and promotion decisions -- consider the employee’s contributions to equity, diversity and inclusion on campus.

Not exactly a hotbed of diversity, Eau Claire is a small, overwhelmingly white (upward of 90 percent) city in western Wisconsin, and the regional university there reflects its setting. Schmidt also described himself as an unexpected leader on equity, diversity and inclusion, saying that he didn’t come to Eau Claire four years ago with the initiative in mind. And as a straight white man, he felt relatively unequipped to head it, he said.

But as his campus, like so many others, faced calls for attention to climate, recruitment and retention issues for underrepresented groups over the past few years, it became clear it had to do something, he said.

Unfortunately for Eau Claire, the new desire coincided with dramatic state budget cuts to higher education, in 2015. Financially tethered, the institution quietly started discussions about how it might put its diversity goals -- including having a 20 percent minority student population within a decade -- into action anyway (something like satisfying champagne taste on a beer budget).

Through discussions with the faculty and, ultimately, through the University Senate’s Faculty Personnel Committee, Eau Claire proposed a policy saying that in addition to teaching, research and service -- the three pillars of faculty work -- all professors “are expected to contribute to university efforts towards equity, diversity and inclusivity.”

Such contributions “can be included in any of the three primary criteria for periodic review,” the policy said, but “all periodic reviews shall include an evaluation of the faculty member’s EDI engagement.” Contributions can be demonstrated through teaching and curricular development; scholarly activity; engagement in initiatives that directly serve underrepresented students, underrepresented faculty and/or underrepresented communities; professional development; or any other activities as defined in the approved evaluation plan.
Someone will a great lawsuit here. If Governor Scott Walker can't fire Comrade James Schmidt at least he can write a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the apparent RICO enterprise to violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.