Jon Sanders

To judge by postings in The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Careers" section, university personnel offices agree that the perfect, one-legged, omnisexual, pantheistic African-Inuit candidate with Vietnam War experience needs extra special encouragement to apply.

Seems the chance to teach six to nine hours a week and write one article a year for the American Journal for Sitting Unread on a Dusty Library Shelf just isn't encouraging enough. This means colleges advertising open positions have to play "More Diverse Than Thou" against each other in order to get the attention of a coveted "diverse candidate."

Now, as everyone knows, the concept of diversity at an American university is like Peanut M&M's: different colors on the outside, same nutty interior. Therefore many universities don't see a need to improve on the standard disclaimer proclaiming the school an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Many other schools, however, apparently think that disclaimer lacks sufficient multicultural sensitivity. They need to specify exactly what they want while maintaining at least a show of plausible deniability. Imagine a spoof 1950s job notice winking and nodding that "blondes and large-breasted women are especially encouraged to apply." Now make it serious and put it in a 21st-century context. Or just read the "Careers" section.

In the March 16th edition, for example, Louisiana Tech University takes baby steps away from the standard EO/AAE disclaimer, by announcing "[m]inorities are encouraged to apply." So does Emory and Henry College, which "encourages applications from members of underrepresented groups." "Populations traditionally under represented [sic] in higher education are encouraged to apply" at Methodist University.

Those were all too weak for Blue Ridge Community College, Jacksonville State University, and the University of Virginia. There, minority applicants are "strongly" encouraged.


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.