Diversity at UCLA

February 2015

About Me:  I am a UCLA professor.  I am not a Republican.

Women, Minorities, and Diversity at UCLA

  • Opponents of current diversity initiatives to hire and promote more women and minorities include some (truly) misogynistic and racist individuals.  I am not one of them.
  • U.S. universities have too few women and minorities, especially in STEM, math, and business.  This applies to UCLA, too.  This is a bad thing.
  • Women and minority faculty have it harder than male and non-minority faculty—but they all have it hard.  Students can be more hostile to women and minority faculty, especially younger ones.  To level the playing field, it makes sense to give women and minority faculty the margin of doubt, even if Prop 209 explicitly forbids this.
  • Women with children are particularly disadvantaged, because children take time and fathers rarely bear equal shares.  Many very talented women choose to drop out because they do not want to dedicate their lives to long hours at work.
  • Everyone has a first stereotype reaction when they see someone unusual.  Anyone with a sense of integrity and fairness compensates for it.
  • Discrimination against women and minorities can and has happened.  Sexual harassment happens, and women are of course more often the victim than men.  If it does, UCLA should do what is right.  Often this means firing those who did it, including tenured faculty.  Strangely, it is at this point that UCLA chickens out.  It is the duty of every senior faculty member to step in when their junior faculty, any (incl women and minorities), are treated unfairly.
  • We should be proud that UCLA is leading the nation in helping poor students.  We have the highest number of Pell grants.  UCLA provides opportunity for those that had few, more so than the Ivies or any other university in the nation.  We do this even though we have fewer resources than others.

Diversity Is Not What It Claims To Be

  • Even the name “diversity” is a lie.  Diversity, as it is practiced at UCLA, is not about diversity. Instead, it is all about admitting certain minorities and rejecting others (Blacks over Chinese); and, on graduate and faculty levels, all about passing over males in favor of females.  It is, pure and simple, affirmative action by another name.
  • Diversity offices do not exist to raise diversity.  The many diversity offices and officers at UC don’t care about diversity, least of all diversity of opinion.  They exist for a simple reason: to raise statistics on women and minorities.  This is how they themselves are measured.  By their “progress” on these statistics.
  • The winners of affirmative action are not the underprivileged.  They are primarily well-off women and politically powerful minorities.   Think Bill Cosby’s and Barrack Obama’s daughters.  The losers are males, Chinese, and Chicanos (who lack the power base of other minorities).
  • Affirmative action is not about fairness.  Nowadays, it is, pure and simple, about creating preferential treatments for individuals belonging to already-privileged groups.  It is not poor Blacks who win under affirmative action but the already-privileged Blacks who do.
  • The need for preferential treatment is sometimes claimed to be morally justified based on the fact that other individuals of these groups are or were badly discriminated.  Yet, those who really were or are now discriminated against are not the ones that are being advantaged by affirmative action now.
  • If you want to help those who do not get a fair shake in life, affirmative action is not it.  Help those whose parents are poor.  Help those whose parents are not Ivy Legacy and Donor kids.  (They now represent about 1/3 of Ivy League admits.)  Help those who are short, fat, and ugly.  Help inner-city and poor rural kids.  Help illegal immigrants.  Help poor Mexicans, Latin Americans, Africans, and Asians.  Don’t help individuals who come from middle or high-income households.  Don’t help those have already graduated from with degrees from top U.S. universities or top high schools.  They already have gotten more than their fair chance.  (And so have I.)
  • If the goal of affirmative action were simply to help those that did not have an equal chance in life, UCLA should not publish statistics on minorities and women.  It should publish and focus only on statistics on socioeconomic backgrounds.  Publishing statistics on (lack of) Blacks and (lack of) women is almost as offensive as publishing statistics on Jews.

Some affirmative action initiatives are outright offensive.  How would you like a “White History” month?  Or a “Male Literature” course  However well meant, affirmative action (aka diversity), as it is now practiced, will backfire. It will create tribalism, pitting males against females, majorities against minorities.  It will be “us” vs “them.”  This outcome is inevitable and will be awful.

And, UCLA, have some decency: Give the low-income minority kids on the UCLA football team unconditional and funded four-year scholarships, even those who then get kicked off the team or who want to focus on academics.  It is offensive to have our on-average poorest sports students pay for our richest, the UCLA Women’s Lacrosse and Field Hockey teams.

Undergraduate Diversity Requirements

  • Taking courses in diversity is not a duty but a privilege.  It is a good idea for individuals who want to take these courses.  However, especially for those from less privileged backgrounds, majoring in these disciplines (rather than just taking a few courses) is also a prescription to lower-paying jobs and unemployment–just as majoring in history or English is.  The subjects that get good jobs with high pay are not fun and sexy.  They are engineering, computer science, sciences, accounting, finance, business.
  • Knowing more about diversity and privilege is a good thing.  So is knowing about many other interesting subjects.  If time were infinite, everyone should.  However, diversity courses are not the best course of action for every student to take a diversity course rather than a course in biology or technology.
  • Many but not all diversity courses are thinly-veiled political indoctrination.
  • The UCLA Diversity Requirement is not designed to help the education of UCLA students.  The UCLA Diversity Requirement is  designed to help faculty that care about the resources this requirement will bring them.  These faculty have a conflict of interest that should disqualify them from voting.
  • If UCLA cared primarily about its students, it should impose minimal requirements.  Be proficient in English and Algebra.  Everything else, from history to humanities to foreign languages to computer science to technology to business to diversity, are all good, but compete for student time.  Let the students decide what they need for themselves.  Give them advice, but don’t force them.

Diversity requirement advocates are not the only ones guilty here: almost all course requirements from all departments have been instituted by faculty with conflicts of interest, and were designed not to enhance student education but to enhance the resources of the faculty departments.

Diversity (Affirmative Action) in Faculty Appointments and Promotions

  • Discrimination in favor of women and minorities has a cost to academic excellence, just as discrimination against women and minorities has a cost.  Deviating from merit appointments is not free.  It is a cost UCLA may want to bear, but understand that UCLA loses academic excellence when it tenures faculty who we would not have tenured otherwise.
  • The way UCLA engages in affirmative action in its faculty appointments is through “appointment candidate pools.”  If a pool has too many men or too few minorities, the Office for Faculty Diversity and Development rejects it.  Obviously, this selection procedure not only intends to but also results in affirmative action.  In the extreme, if there is randomness and pools with men in them are turned down and pools without men are accepted to move forward, then only women can be hired.   (Fortunately, the process is not as extreme.)
  • At the appointment and tenure process, there is a simple reason why many women and minorities are turned down: It is that most faculty are turned down.  Candidates with negative votes are usually simply not as good as their competitive peers at top departments on objective grounds.  Arguing that historical under-representation of a certain group implies that an individual is now discriminated against is usually a comforting self-deception.  The tough truth is that when academic appointments run into trouble, the reason is usually that the record is not good enough.
  • UCLA already massively discriminates in favor of female and minority applicants.  We already practice affirmative action every day.  We just don’t call it that.  Anyone who claims that the current UC system discriminates against women and minorities has not looked objectively at the academic records.  White male candidates are not treated better but worse than a Black female candidates in the UC appointment process.
  • The biggest reason against hiring and promoting mediocre academics is not that UCLA then has one more mediocre faculty.  Instead, it is the fact that mediocre academics will want to hire more mediocre academics in the future.
  • How does one openly say in a faculty meeting that the next person’s record is not good enough when another person was just tenured (potentially female, or minority), sitting in the room with an even worse record, and not appear hostile?
  • Many faculty tenured due to affirmative action will be quite unhappy and complain about how badly they were themselves treated in the tenure process.  They will be the ones that will complain the loudest to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
  • Academia is about being skeptic.  This can be easily be claimed (misconstrued) as hostility.  Intellectual hostility should happen to both women and men, to minorities and majorities.
  • The pretense that we do not have enough women and minorities because we have not looked hard enough is ludicrous.  We hire faculty primarily from a small set of PhD’s from elite universities.  Why does anyone claim we can find a top bio-chemistry professor if we just looked a little harder elsewhere?  Is the presumption that we were ill-meaning or just stupid in the past?
  • The annual required diversity training is inane.  Diversity “education”  serves primarily to indoctrinate and humiliate those who are forced to take it again and again.
  • The world is not only tough, but also unfair.  Less talented individuals often rise to the top.  This happens to everyone.

There is one arguable defense in favor of affirmative action, hiring more women and minorities.  Some departments do not hire the best candidates anyway, but hire based on office politics or based on intra-department horse trades.  In these cases, hiring a woman or minority candidate preferentially is only yet another bad criterion among others, and arguably a much preferable one.

Lies and More Lies

Discriminating in favor of women and minorities (rather than against those actually disadvantaged) is a dilemma.  There are reasons in favor and reasons against it.  But lying about what we do is a completely different ballgame.  It is separate and not equal.  By indulging and encouraging lies, and by not speaking up when others tell lies, we lose our integrity.

We are nothing without our integrity.

Some individuals tell themselves that lying is worthy compromise in pursuit of a higher goal (esp in the face of Prop 209).  It is not.  We are nothing without our integrity.

  • Even the word diversity is a lie.  It is not about diversity, least of all about diversity of opinion.  It is about women and politically powerful minorities.  It is affirmative action.
  • Everyone knows that we are lying when we use the word diversity.  “Diversity” is Orwellian Doublethink, a part of Newspeak.
  • Political correctness is about suppressing dissent.  What is academia without encouraging dissent?
  • Political correctness is about ostracizing those who speak the truth.
  • Check your privilege? Check your entitlement.
  • Micro aggressions?
  • I have been successfully intimidated.  I would never dare to speak the truth and post this blog under my real name.

The UC administration and processes is not only condoning but actively demanding lies.

Not speaking up when others lie is bad enough.  It is worse when others are forced to re-tell lies.  When faculty is asked to select the best candidates, but pools do not satisfy the target, the faculty is not asked to tolerate different choices, because there are some women and minority candidates that can be moved up.  This would be reasonable. Instead, the faculty is asked to go back and determine that those were indeed the top candidates to begin with.  If they are unwilling to submit, the whole department is punished. As a result, faculty are told by their colleagues to self-censor or face their wrath.

The attorney general of California, Kamala Harris (our likely next U.S. Senator) can take credit for much of this “diversity” effort.  She herself is a product of such privileged upbringing and advantage–and undoubtedly a beneficiary of Affirmative Action at the time.   Her mother was a breast surgeon, her father was an economics professor at Stanford.  Not exactly in need of a competitive advantage.

In effect, Mrs. Harris has been been asking the UC administration to choose between violating the law (Prop 209), or incurrent her wrath.  The UC administration, first and foremost the UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, has chosen the former.  UCLA’s Chancellor has stated that we “push the boundaries” of Prop 209 first and foremost, and not that faculty should be honest, first and foremost.  UCLA’s pretense and its lack of following the law are not subtle.

The fish stinks from the head.  It is fair game to be against Prop 209.   But this is not the problem.   The UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has come out to state we should bend Prop 209 as far as we can.  In effect, the administration now sends a hundred signals a day that we should break it.  He never said that we, faculty and administration, are sworn to follow the law, letter and intent.  (We are!) Gene Block has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth.  It is ethically questionable but defensible if he wants us to defy the law.  But it is not when he sets up a climate in which the honest are punished. If he wants to break a bad law, by all means do it. But be honest and take the consequences.

What To Do If You Agree

There are few mechanisms that can put pressure on the UC administration and faculty.

Speaking out in public is not wise for individuals students, faculty members, or administration officials. It risks that the individual will be branded a misogynist and racist.

The only real pressure can come from California voters and from UC donors.

I call on California voters to pass a proposition that prohibits the keeping of official or quasi-official statistics on criteria that are inappropriate: race, gender, religion, ethnicity, orientation, etc.

I call on the disbanding of all Diversity Offices.  Yet, I would like to call on making the university a friendlier place towards women and minorities.

I call on donors to the University of California to place all their donations into escrow accounts that will not release until the UC administration affirms not only the letter but also the spirit of Prop 209: that UC must not discriminate in favor or against candidates by race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, or any other inappropriate criterion; and that UC reaffirms its commitment to discriminate based only on real disadvantages, first and foremost, that UC discriminate based on socio-economic factors, instead.