George Mason University President Takes “Immediate Steps … To Advance Systemic and Cultural Anti-Racism”
Yesterday, I flagged an email from Gregory Washington, the President of George Mason University. He announced some a high-level program for accreditation titled “Transformative Education through Equity and Justice: Anti- Racist Community Engagement.” The email was vague on specifics. Today, Washington has sent a follow-up email to the George Mason community with very specific initiatives. He explains, “My vision is nothing short of establishing George Mason University as a national exemplar of anti-racism and inclusive excellence in action.” Washington explains that anti-racism will be incorporated into Curriculum and Pedagogy, Campus and Community Engagement, University Policies and Practices, and Research Training and Development. I have pasted the entire email below the fold. Here are four high points.
First, the most significant change concerns hiring. The email explains:
Equity Advisors are senior faculty members, appointed as Faculty Assistant to the Dean in their respective schools. Equity Advisors participate in faculty recruiting by approving search committee short lists and strategies and raising awareness of best practices. Additionally, they organize faculty development programs, with both formal and informal mentoring, and address individual issues raised by women and faculty from underrepresented groups.
If I am reading this policy correctly, these equity advisors could have a veto at every stage of the hiring process.
Second, the University will now consider “implicit bias” for tenure decisions.
We will develop specific recommendations for the renewal, promotion, and tenure processes that address implicit bias, discrimination, and other equity issues (e.g., invisible and uncredited labor) to support faculty of color and women in their professional work.
This policy is framed as a way to “support faculty of color and women.” But could an applicant’s failure to abide by implicit bias justify a denial of tenure? That is, a junior faculty members refused to comply with the implict bias re-education program. Would he be penalized by the University?
Third, the University will “require an anti-racism statement on all syllabi.” We should be clear. Anti-racism is not some sort of mundane statement favoring diversity. Nor is it a legal disclosure required by federal law (Title IX or ADA). Anti-racism is a political viewpoint. George Mason is a public institution. This requirement is likely a violation of the First Amendment. Consider an analogy that my colleague Jon Adler has raised elsewhere. In the 1950s, a public institution required faculty members to include anti-communism statements on their syllabi. That would be a 9-0 case at the Supreme Court.
Fourth, the University will consider names of buildings:
We will convene the University Naming Committee to evaluate names of university buildings and memorials to ensure they align with the university’s stated mission to serve as an “academic community committed to creating a more just, free, and prosperous world.”
Umm, the University is named after a slaveholder. Yesterday, I predicted that George Mason University would simply rebrand itself as GMU University–where the initials do not stand for anything. George Washington University will also rebrand at GW–where th
Article from Latest – Reason.com