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Diversity & Freedom

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In the early days of higher education, most universities were largely the domain of white males. There were, of course, some black schools and women’s colleges. Through concerted efforts, campuses have become more inclusive—though there are still clearly issues in access to higher education. This opening of the campuses has generally been regarded as a positive thing and few would now argue that blacks or women should be excluded from any campus in America. However, some think that the current push for diversity is a violation of the freedom of faculty. Image Credit One concern is that some schools require faculty to submit written statements of their commitment to diversity as part of the tenure application process, job application process and in other contexts. Some see this as compelled speech because it is forcing faculty to pledge to an ideology. Even if it is compelled speech, the First Amendment only applies to public employers—private schools are free to do as they wish since employees are free to go elsewhere. But the moral concern remains even for private employers: just because they can legally compel speech does not entail that is right to do so. It is worth noting that even public schools can legitimately compel actual and potential faculty to provide statements in writing if they wish to advance or be employed. For example, most jobs require a letter of application, a teaching statement and a research statement. One can opt out—but this all but guarantees that one will not be hired. As another example, the applications for tenure and promotion require the faculty to provide documentation. This is, obviously enough, not a violation of the freedom of expression—even when a job applicant must present a philosophy of teaching or research. This is because they are not forced to commit to any specific philosophy. In contrast, a pledge to diversity does compel assenting to a specific set of values, which would seem to violate the right to free. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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