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Should I Report Sexual Preferences, Too?

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At the beginning of this academic year, my colleagues and I are starting the process of hiring at least two new full-time Economics faculty members (hopefully to join us beginning with the academic year 2005-06). Much paperwork needs to be done carefully.

Most of this paperwork is reasonable, if tedious. A few bits of this paperwork are annoying and insulting and ought to be unnecessary.

For example, I must fill out at this early stage a form to be filed with George Mason’s Equity Office. This form’s principal purpose is for University administrators to be assured that we at the Departmental level are not so foolish or so bigoted as to overlook qualified minority candidates. I want to tell them “Look, you presumptuous busybodies, neither I nor anyone else on my faculty gives a good flip about the color, sex, religion, sexual preferences, hair color, or toe-nail length of any of our candidates. We want excellent economists who will further enhance the productivity and collegiality of our Department, and who will further add to its luster with their research and teaching.”

I get so @&%^&^(&^%$$# annoyed that my colleagues and I are presumed to be bigoted, small-minded racist-sexist-homophobes.

But what really fries me is that I must report the “Gender” and “Race” of each member of the Recruiting Committee that I’ve appointed.

Note the childish, absurd presumption: a committee with, say, no Hispanics or blacks or women will irrationally overlook or even oppose qualified minority and female candidates. Can any presumption be more insulting?

Suppose for a moment that the presumption is justified. Surely we cannot, then, be trusted with the education of the young men and women who take our Economics courses each year. If we are so likely to be so narrow-minded, George Mason University erred big-time when it hired us and tenured us.

Of course, we are not – repeat: emphatically not – so narrow minded. Quite the opposite is true.

The real childishness is exhibited by those who presume as a matter of course that most of the rest of us are so antediluvian that our decision-making processes are geared simply to the gross, external categories of race and gender.

I’m glad a three-day weekend is at hand.

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