Professor resigns after discipline threat for criticizing diversity training

In the Chronicle here:

… The emails leaked to The American Conservative document a conflict that began in February, when Mr. Griffiths responded to a colleague’s email urging Divinity School faculty members to participate in voluntary diversity training with his own email urging them to skip it as a waste of time. “It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: There’ll be bromides, clichés, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty,” he wrote. “When (if) it goes beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show.” He argued that such training was “at best a distraction” from the school’s academic mission.

Elaine Heath, the Divinity School’s dean, subsequently responded with an email saying “it is inappropriate and unprofessional to use mass emails to make disparaging statements” to humiliate or undermine colleagues. “The use of mass emails to express racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry is offensive and unacceptable, especially in a Christian institution,” she wrote. …

I’ve been to some hilariously bad and counter-productive diversity trainings, some mixed ones, and one good one (run by a church when I was 9).  UO is now requiring members of search committees to take “implicit bias training”, and the administration has hired diversity consultants to train the deans and others on it. I took a version offered at a recent BOT meeting, complete with doing the Implicit Association Test. I thought it was pretty interesting.

But the facilitator did not spend much time explaining the scientific controversies about the research. The Chronicle has a good analysis of the disputes over whether the IAT is reliably repeatable, whether it correlates with behavior, and whether changes in the IAT correlate with changes in behavior, all motivated by several recent meta-analyses. Read it all here:

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard, and the University of Virginia examined 499 studies over 20 years involving 80,859 participants that used the IAT and other, similar measures. They discovered two things: One is that the correlation between implicit bias and discriminatory behavior appears weaker than previously thought. They also conclude that there is very little evidence that changes in implicit bias have anything to do with changes in a person’s behavior. These findings, they write, “produce a challenge for this area of research.”

Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Professor resigns after discipline threat for criticizing diversity training

  1. Salty Picard Facepalming says:

    Do not challenge goodthink. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +5 (from 7 votes)
  2. dog says:

    Disruptive thinking in institutions is also both futile and penalizing …

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
  3. José says:

    Disruptive thinking at Universities is pretty problematic. Perhaps there is some room in the budget for Thought Police?

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  4. just different says:

    Does anyone remember DARE, the police-developed school program from the 1990s that was supposed to reduce drug use among kids? Numerous independent studies convincingly showed that DARE had no effect whatsoever. But police and parent groups didn’t want to hear this, so they engaged in various harassment and suppression tactics against these researchers and other critics of DARE, accusing them of being “potheads” who didn’t care about kids. The good news is that rationality did ultimately prevail, and DARE was largely scrapped after the Surgeon General categorized it as “ineffective” in 2001.

    The current debate about diversity training is the obverse of the DARE debate. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of diversity training and there is plenty of work that needs to be done in establishing what is and is not effective.

    But the present critics of diversity efforts don’t so much object to the lack of evidence about its effectiveness because they have no interest in trying to improve it. They object to the idea of diversity training in toto as “totalitarian,” “re-education,” etc. So they engage in various harassment and suppression tactics against the people trying to implement diversity initiatives, often by enlisting the right-wing media to elevate their personal pettiness to national discourse. Make no mistake: This is the illiberal, anti-intellectual bullying that has no place in higher education.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +4 (from 20 votes)
    • marcy says:

      Care to provide some evidence for your assertion?

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)
      • Dog says:

        Once again, blog rules:

        1. Blogs exist for assertions and proclamations to be followed up
        by a non-linear response.

        2. In general, evidence is not allowed.

        3. In the rare cases where evidence is posted, it is to be ignored thus continuing point 1 above.

        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
        Rating: -6 (from 6 votes)
    • Salty Picard Facepalming says:

      Just different,

      “But the present critics of diversity efforts don’t so much object to the lack of evidence about its effectiveness because they have no interest in trying to improve it.”

      I’ll admit to that, I have no intention of improving diversity efforts as I dismiss the entire subject outright. The idea that “white people” are not diverse is as stupid as it is wrong. Where else on Earth do you find red hair? Blue eyes? Numerous cultures, societies, languages, foods, history, etc, all crammed together into one package for our two minutes hate: white people. Repeat after me: “Four legs..” er, sorry there, “white skin bad”.

      “They object to the idea of diversity training in toto as “totalitarian,” “re-education,” etc.”

      Correct.

      “So they engage in various harassment and suppression tactics”

      Wait, which side is antifa on again? Who is going out to rallies to shut down un-PC free speech again?

      “…against the people trying to implement diversity initiatives, often by enlisting the right-wing media to elevate their personal pettiness to national discourse.”

      Yes, the deracination of America is super petty. Should not be on the national discourse level, what sense would that make? Our nation, talking about the state and future of our nation and its people? UNHEARD OF.

      “Make no mistake: This is the illiberal, anti-intellectual bullying that has no place in higher education.”

      No, your censorship is the illiberal, anti-intellectual bullying that has no place in higher education. Some of us are old enough to remember when campuses like ours used to be a bastion of free speech, not state-approved goodthink,

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +9 (from 19 votes)
      • Dog says:

        see Rule no 1 confirmed …

        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
        Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
      • just different says:

        Well, that takes care of any requests about evidence for my assertions.

        Anyone who glibly characterizes a diversity initiative as “totalitarianism” should take note of who your bedfellows are. It never seems to take much for the full scope of their repugnance to make itself known.

        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
        Rating: +2 (from 10 votes)
        • Salty says:

          Just different,

          Hardly glib, just like this isn’t my “personal pettyiness”. I’m quite aware of who my bedfellows are. Jefferson. Washington. Locke. Voltaire. Plato. Or were you going for the guilt-by-association Godwin’s law angle?
          “It never seems to take much for the full scope of their repugnance to make itself known.”
          Well that’s a nice ad hominem, but would you mind sticking to the subject at hand?I find people who can’t argue in good faith quite repugnant myself.

          VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
          Rating: -1 (from 7 votes)
          • just different says:

            Since you’re arguing in good faith, maybe you could tell us what your response is to those historically marginalized groups who quite justifiably feel that higher education is failing them? It’s an institutional problem, but the institution is made up of individuals each of whom contribute to this inequity.

            VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
            Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)
  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    This is frightening, horrifying. A distinguished (rather orogressive, not that that should matter) professor feels compelled to resign because he expressed ridicule about the stupidity of a “diversity” program.

    This teuly is totalitaruanism. At a major university!

    If this is what academia is becoming, it truly deserves to be taken down. As one of the most destructive influences in society.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +3 (from 11 votes)
    • oh noes, not a voluntary diversity class! says:

      As a result you think we should dismantle all of higher education? Wow, that really must have been a really bad training!

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 6 votes)
      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        No, silly, I think academia needs to change its ways, before outsiders do it for us.

        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.