Just a few lawyerly thoughts to add to KC Johnson's excellent post yesterday on Columbia University setting aside $30 million to hire female and minority faculty.
It was clear enough all along that Columbia's hiring would be racially discriminatory, if not racially exclusive; and, as Professor Johnson points out, even the pretext that sometimes a (politically correct) white male might be eligible for hiring has apparently now been abandoned. And of course this is an unfair, divisive, and corrupt policy. But it should also be pointed out that it is ILLEGAL to weigh race, ethnicity, and sex in hiring.
You shouldn't have to be a math whiz to understand that Title VI does not equal Title VII. President Bollinger of course knows that, in its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger ("That's me!") decision, the Supreme Court said that universities could discriminate - to a limited degree - on the basis of race and ethnicity in student admissions under, among other federal laws, Title VI. And so it is commonly assumed that it must also be okay for universities to weigh race and ethnicity (and sex) in the same "diversity"-driven way when they hire faculty.
Wrong. The Grutter decision said nothing about Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which covers employment and which has different language and jurisprudence than Title VI. The federal courts have never recognized a "diversity" exception to Title VII, and are unlikely to. In fact, when that issue was about to be decided by the Supreme Court in the late 1990s, the civil-rights establishment hastily raised enough money to settle the case. More on the problems with faculty hiring discrimination here.
And don't even think about making the "role model" argument in lieu of the "diversity" argument. When you read about a university's efforts to diversify its faculty, a school official will frequently assert that these efforts are important because minority or female students need "role models" (relatedly, it is often suggested that the faculty should reflect the student body or even the community's general population). This is a dubious argument as a policy matter, but what is amazing is that the argument continues to be made even though the Supreme Court rejected it, as legal matter, over twenty-five years ago.
N.B. The Supreme Court has, alas, also (mis)interpreted Title VII to be a less-than-categorical ban on discrimination, but the politically correct exceptions it has carved out (for "manifest imbalances" in "traditionally segregated job categories") do not apply, and are not cited by Columbia, here.