The Volokh Conspiracy

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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.

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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.