[Faculty and administrators] have attempted affirmative action of the official and unofficial kind for a long time, but gains in the percentage of professors of color in elite departments have been disappointing. If you listen to them, you can hear a rising dismay in their voices. They want so much to have more non-white colleagues, but the years pass and nothing seems to change.No trade-off, no controversy.
This is a case of bad faith. People are in bad faith when they think and act in way that deny the reality of what they otherwise enjoy. The behavior is to demand more non-white hiring and promotion and retention. The reality is a combination of the meritocratic system of selective schools plus the limited pool of minority candidates.
But when higher education is in bad odor already, can pretending there are no standards really work?
I don’t think it will be too long, however, before the scruples of administrators in these kinds of situations soften. the identity demand is growing too shrill, and in the humanities, research is increasingly meaningless. Who cares whether someone has just published the 4,210th essay on literary transnationalism? Soon, administrators will ask themselves whether it is worth it to insist upon strict standards of published research when they run against the diversity mandate, incense other professors, and bring on bad publicity. A simple and quiet acquiescence can make it all go away.Perhaps at the top of the U.S. News rankings, where the students are savvy enough to fend for themselves and disregard the grievance-mongers and their idiocies, it won't matter. Or perhaps people will be motivated to question the research myth.
It's going to be the students at the land-grants, mid-majors, regional comprehensives, and formerly segregated colleges and universities who will suffer. "Put another way, don't be surprised if an obscure program dedicated to the latest academic fads attracts less competent faddists."