Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Diversity, Inclusiveness, and Karla Holloway
A major theme of the blog has been the lack of academic accountability. Dozens of Duke professors rushed to judgment in the most public way possible, ignoring the academy’s traditional commitment to due process, as well as, simply, fundamental principles of fairness. Several of these professors, over the duration of the case, appeared to violate Duke policies. Yet there never was any indication that Duke disciplined, in any way, even one of its rogue professors. (Contrast their fate with that of Mike Pressler.) And, as the subsequent careers of Group of 88’ers Houston Baker (hired by Vanderbilt) and Grant Farred (hired and promoted by Cornell) demonstrated, it wasn’t simply Duke that had no interest in accountability.
In government or the corporate world, a scandal such as the faculty’s response to the lacrosse case almost certainly would have triggered some sort of inquiry. Such an inquiry would have addressed, among other matters, hiring policies. In the context of Duke, the question is obvious: did the obsession with “diversity,” a characteristic of Group of 88’er William Chafe’s tenure as provost (which ended in 2004) result in the hiring of an increasingly groupthink-oriented faculty, whose rush to judgment on the lacrosse case illustrated a broader closed-mindedness on issues of race, class, and gender? And did the faculty’s record in the lacrosse case suggest that Duke should think twice about its personnel priorities?
These were, of course, questions that Duke didn’t want to address, since doing so would have alienated powerful constituencies on campus. (Recall the fate of Larry Summers at Harvard.) Instead, the university has doubled down on its hiring patterns: if the lacrosse case occurred today, the Group of 88 would probably be the Group of 100. (Such a hypothetical statement probably would also contain a throwaway line about due process, to deflect criticism.)
The latest indication of hiring trends is an announcement from Duke that the Faculty Council that its meeting this week will be devoted to what a Duke press release terms a “discussion” about “diversity” in faculty hiring. Needless to say, neither intellectual nor pedagogical diversity appear to be on the agenda.
Four faculty members have been invited to “make short opening remarks to start the conversation,” under the heading of “diversity andinclusiveness” at Duke. The first professor listed? Group of 88 extremist Karla Holloway (who was back in the news this week defending her extremism on another front, championing the ASA’s anti-Israel boycott). Holloway will be followed by Kerry Haynie, who close followers of the case might recall as the professor who illustrated his conception of “inclusiveness” by sending a wildly intemperate, threatening e-mail to Steve Baldwin, the first Duke professor to speak up about the lacrosse players’ treatment by their university.
By this stage, no one should be surprised that the Group of 88 and their allies continue to be influential voices on personnel policy a Duke. Accountability, it seems, will never arrive in Durham.