Update from University of Southern Maine: "No administrator will see the list of people who pledge to practice antiracist behaviors"

The pledge, as crafted, will not obtain any meaningful "aggregate-level" statistics.


Last week I blogged about the University of Southern Maine. The President asked all members of the community to sign an "antiracist" pledge. A reader writes in that the page was updated. It now states:

No administrator will see the list of people who pledge to practice antiracist behaviors. The names of those who pledge to practice antiracist behaviors are being collected so that we may provide the USM community, at a future date, an aggregate-level report of the number of people who pledge. Below, we have also outlined some suggestions for ways you can practice antiracism.

What do we make of this statement? I suspect the President recognized that the risk of retaliation is real. There also may be FERPA issues at play. No wonder he backed off the promise to publicize the woke-list.

Yet, that "aggregate-level" statistic will be meaningless. There is no way to verify that people who submit their names are in fact students or employed by USM. (Signatories do not need to authenticate their attendance). And let's assume we can narrow down the submissions to those who actually attend, or work for, the University. What is the denominator? I am struggling to think of a way these numbers will be useful.

At this point, the pledge is little more than private virtue signaling. Universities should not adopt these sorts of pledges.

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  1. “Universities should not adopt these sorts of pledges.”

    It’s frightening that it’s even considered.

    1. They have been relatively common for decades on conservative-controlled campuses, where they are heavy on enforcement of superstition, dogma, and nonsense.

      1. I’m pretty sure you’ve worn out your conservative college Boogeyman whataboutisms. We’re all fed up with your deflections.

        What’s your opinion on these pledges that liberal colleges push, are they good or not?

      2. If you don’t like a private university’s behavior, you can go somewhere else. You cannot flee government oppression.

  2. Is the part about “no administrator will see the list” a legally enforceable contract binding future administrators?

    I know college catalogues are considered contracts, but how about ever-changing web pages?

    1. If no administrator sees it, then who tabulates the responses? Does it require a name?

  3. What exactly is the value of virtue signaling to the university? I just don’t understand the cost/benefit analysis.

    1. Isn’t virtue it’s own reward?

      1. So it’s said. Requires no paperwork to fill out or social media platform to crow about it, it’s a character trait last I checked. But, suspect you knew that.

        1. My main point is that sometimes policymakers make policy for reasons other than a specific short-term value proposition.

      2. Virtue signalling is definitely its own reward…

    2. To the university? No value. To the petty bureaucrat who proposed this dumb idea out of personal hubris and who now needs a face-saving way out? Loads of value.

  4. No administrator will see the list of people who pledge to practice antiracist behaviors.

    What possible reason is there to believe this ?

    1. There is none.

    2. 2nd that. Absolutely no reason.

    3. The whole point was public knowledge of who signed, for the purpose of symbolically showing something.

      “Why, yes. The Emperor’s clothes are lovely! All right-minded people agree! I signed right here agreeing! Now leeeme alone!”

      1. Not for symbolically showing anything. It’s like the push to get donor lists for conservative organizations: They want a target list for who to attack.

  5. What about people who don’t sign up and practice non racist behaviors?

    1. “And these are men who know where they are and care, but don’t drink.”

  6. I checked Wikipedia, and apparently this is *not* the part of the University of Maine that Stephen King attended.

    1. Yet it practices the virtual hammering of the leg, lest someone flee.

  7. From the link provided:

  8. Suggestions for practicing antiracism
    If appropriate, become involved with the Intercultural and Diversity Advisory Council (IDAC) and the Faculty and Staff of Color Association (FSOCA).
    Give of your time and resources to organizations that are working to end racism.
    Read our Common Read, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi, and join a USM-sponsored discussion group of the book.
    Engage with the “Tools of Resilience” resources.
    Attend workshops, events and conferences that focus on race-related issues.
    Educate yourself about oppression.
    Call out biased language or behavior.
    Call out friends and family members who say racist things.

    1. USM-sponsored discussion group? Aha. Attendance will be known.

  9. So this is Title IX extended to racism in other words? Anyone can file a completely anonymous complaint to punish alleged “racists” without ever having to be questioned by the accused or their counsel. Sounds like a brilliant idea/sarc

  10. “… we have also outlined some suggestions for ways you can practice antiracism.”

    As a matter of semantics, can one practice “antiracism” or just not be racist in one’s attitudes and actions?

    It would appear by the list of suggestions that “antiracism”, indeed, does not connote the mere absence of racism but the active preoccupation with racism and the pursuit of expunging it as defined by a current social-political paradigm.

    1. The last two suggestions in the above list call for actively calling out rqcism. Of course your understanding of what constitutes racism may differ from others.

      1. Right. Study these books and classes with their point of view, join these racially-divided groups with a particular agenda, and call out others. That’s what they consider practicing “antiracism.”

        The term is troubling, because it implies non-racist attitudes and actions are not enough.

        1. The university’s suggestion to “[i]f appropriate, become involved with the Intercultural and Diversity Advisory Council (IDAC) and the Faculty and Staff of Color Association (FSOCA)” sounds very much like people of no “color” are not welcome. How is this not an exclusionary race-based association that permit some to help fashion policy and trumpet their membership on their resumes, while others not allowed in?

          It’s a public university!

        2. Correct.

          As generations of Americans have amply demonstrated, it is not enough to personally think that that oneself is not racist/sexist/homophobic/bigoted against Catholics/etc./so-on.

  11. What are the preferred & accepted metrics for measuring racism? How do we measure the efficacy of our various efforts to end racism? What defines the end of racism? How will we know when we’ve achieved the end of racism, and can cease our preoccupation with it? Will there ever be a time when we can terminate the various federal, state, and local programs whose intent is to mitigate the effects of racism?

    1. It will never end, there will never be enough, and thats all you need to know.

      1. D’accord.

  12. Speaking of the First Amendment:

    University Of Pittsburgh Cardiologist Is Stripped From Fellowship Program After Criticizing Affirmative Action


    In Krynicky v. University of Pittsburgh, 742 F.2d 94 (3d Cir. 1984), the Third Circuit held that the university is to be treated as a public institution, and its actions constitute “state action” for the purpose of claims under 42 USC 1983. That was followed as recently as McKinney v. Univ. of Pittsburgh, 915 F.3d 956 (3d Cir. 2019).

    So we once again have a flagrant disregard of the First Amendment by a public institution.

  13. “At this point, the pledge is little more than private virtue signaling.”

    This one — the “woke-list” — seems a severe sore point for Prof. Blackman.

    What does he make of the signed loyalty oaths and statements of faith collected every year by conservative-controlled schools throughout the country? Does he call them “fairy tale lists” or “superstition lists” or “nonsense-teaching lists?”

    Or does he follow the standard conservative path of issuing an undeserved pass to censorship, pledges, diminution of academic freedom, speech codes, conduct codes and the like that flatter and favor conservative and religious institutions, believers, dogma, and donors?

    1. What about Antifa and Mao Tse-Tung?

      To which you reply “What about Hitler?”

      …and so on.

  14. It would help to see citations of “loyalty oaths and statements of faith collected by conservative-controlled (Christian and Mormon?) controlled schools,” since this seems to be the justification for the social pledges currently becoming vogue that assume racism on the part of students and faculty.

    These, plus an explanation how statements of faith in private, denominationally-oriented colleges (no doubt including Muslim and Jewish schools, as well) espousing XYZ faiths are analogous to pledges to not be racist in public universities, and, one presumes, on one’s own time, according to current and ever updating PC metrics.

    Are adherence to faith and allegiance to race, if one is of color, or to an anti-racism agenda, if not, so similar as to not make a distinction between private and public schools venues in which these pledges are made?

    1. All the supposed “sins” of conservative schools does not justify progressive or liberal schools committing the same sin, especially when their espoused values are supposed to be the opposite.

      If it’s wrong for one, it’s wrong for the other, but Rev. Kirkland never seems to get this.

      Notice how he never comments on the particular case at hand, either to support or condemn it?

      He tries to make the far-left look virtuous and pure than they really are by making sure everyone is distracted.

    2. Calling pledges of anti-racism in liberal schools as analogous to statements of faith in religious conservative ones implies that anti-racism is a religion itself…

      Not very flattering if you think about it.

      1. When a claim is impervious to disproof, it _does_ look like religion.

  15. You’re like a homophobic, racist dog with a bone. Your posts are boring, and you’re making a fool of yourself: Blue June?

    You’re not just irrelevant; you’re also uninteresting and bigoted.

  16. Around the frat house back in the day we had one particular word used to describe the very people who pushed this diversity pledge….

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