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Shakespeare who? ‘Equity’ committee wants more diversity in U. Minnesota English department

If you’ve ever wanted to see an example of what your tuition dollars fund these days, be sure to read through the recommendations written by a University of Minnesota diversity committee.

The faculty “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee” was called upon to offer solutions to the English department’s diversity “problem,” and its offerings are pretty much what you’d expect.

According to the Minnesota Daily, the EDI committee “prioritizes” equity in pay and “encourages” students and staff to participate in diversity training.

The committee report, titled “We are all in this,” reads like a sociology doctoral candidate’s thesis … full of PC terminology (like the word “folx”; why is an “x” needed on this word?) and flowery language (“surveying what collides when we make to progress too speedily through intersections”). It questions the undergraduate requirement to take a course on Shakespeare because, as committee chairman Qadri Ismail says, it seems only “white writers matter.”

The report also guarantees the continued existence of diversity committees (and related staff positions) for, as department chair Andrew Elfenbein says, the report “is really valuable in serving as a starting point for discussion.”

A discussion that will never, ever end, that is. After patting itself on the back (“Doing the work of this committee also
generated an enormous amount of energetic enthusiasm among the members of this committee”), the committee recommends its permanent presence in the English department:

There is no box the department can check that will say EDI is “solved” – the establishment of this committee, the writing of this report, and all of the efforts that come after will be part of the ongoing work of creating the community this English Department has the potential to become and keep becoming.

Here’s a sampling of the EDI committee’s proposals:

–“We encourage the department to continue to make salary equitization one of its priorities” as it laments pay disparity in the department. Males make more money despite equal “rank,” yet there is no indication why men in the department have higher salaries. The likely answer is they have more experience and education.

–Make use of the Modern Language Association’s “Guidelines for Good Practice by the Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the United States and Canada” which include “considering” the creation of curricula “that either focus entirely on or include literatures written and spoken by people of color,” and a particular focus on mentoring junior faculty members of color.

–Require a “diversity statement” for new department hires.

–“Provide time and space for periodic EDI-related enrichment activities.” (Remember, diversity departments and employees need programs which operate in perpetuity.) (Also: Did you know that UM’s Office of Equity and Diversity offers “Basic” and “Advanced” certificates in “Equity and Diversity”?)

–“Granting juries” should have EDI training so that concepts such as “rigor” and “value” can be framed which “challenge hegemonic notions in meaningful ways.”

Chairman Ismail’s concluding section is a marvel of postmodern lingo and reverence to contemporary academic PC norms, featuring “soliloquies” and “interruptions” that may make sense to one versed in academese … but not to one schooled in standard English.

Read the Daily article and EDI committee report.

MORE: U. Iowa diversity chief resigns after six weeks, keeps more than $250,000

MORE: Whites not welcome in Diversity Zone?

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.