University of Washington discriminated against whites and Asians: report

"…when the candidate is White, it is just awkward. The last meeting was uncomfortable, and I would go as far as burdensome for me. Can we change the policy to not do these going forward with White faculty?"

An “internal whistleblower” has exposed that the University of Washington discriminated against whites and Asians.

According to an internal report obtained by Newsweek, a black applicant for a tenure position in the psychology department, who ranked third in the candidate selection process, was given a tenure-track assistant professor job in April over white and Asian candidates who were ranked higher.

The outlet added that the university also reportedly excluded white staff from meetings with job candidates, deleted parts of a hiring report to conceal discrimination, and discussed ways to circumvent a recent Supreme Court ruling banning affirmative action in colleges.

A UW spokeswoman told the outlet that, following the whistleblower complaint, the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences “…requested an internal review of this process by what was then called UCIRO (University Complaints, Investigation, and Resolution Office) and is now the Civil Rights Investigation Office."

As a result, psychology faculty have been prohibited from hiring tenured staff for two years. UW's psychology department on its website lists its first mission as promoting social equity "by investigating biased attitudes, inequities, and disparities... by redesigning organizational practice" and "by solving social justice issues."

During another incident in January 2023, five finalists were selected for a tenure-track assistant professor position and were scheduled to be interviewed by the Women Faculty and Faculty of Color groups but the Faculty of Color group refused to have white women at the meeting because the interviews were "awkward" when there was a white candidate.

The person wrote in an email, "…when the candidate is White, it is just awkward. The last meeting was uncomfortable, and I would go as far as burdensome for me. Can we change the policy to not do these going forward with White faculty?"

Washington state passed a referendum banning race-based hiring in universities in 1998.

Additionally, the report showed that faculty attempted to cover up the race considerations. One email in the report stated, "I advise deleting the statement below as it shows that URM [underrepresented minority] applications were singled out and evaluated differently than non-URM applications (which is not allowed as [name redacted] noted)."

In a March email, another person wrote that they wanted to hold Faculty of Color meetings just for candidates of color and wanted to find a way around the affirmative action case regarding admission, at the time pending before the Supreme Court, Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard, regarding affirmative action.

The faculty member wrote in the email, "My inclination is to hold these meetings only for POC [People of Color] candidates. I'm also mindful that our Provost is now getting anxious about anything that's directed to only some identity groups (i.e., they are getting worried about fallout from the pending Supreme Court affirmative action rulings)."

The person added, "My read is that they'll get fearful of litigation and overcorrect into colorblindness. Maybe our committee can preemptively think our way around this type of future directive.”

Following the report, the university stated that the psychology department is now "barred from conducting searches for tenured and tenure-track faculty positions" for at least two years, "subject to review by the Provost's Office," and will "….undergo a comprehensive review and revision of its hiring processes."

Additionally, all department members "will receive training on how to conduct searches consistent with law and policy."
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