What Is Your Professor's Religion? Does it matter? Should it?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
There was an interesting piece in the Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday about the hiring practices of Utah's universities. Here's a quote:



" At the 10th annual Diversity Forum in Logan last December, business and community leaders pressed USU President Kermit Hall to improve the ratio of LDS faculty (fewer than 15 percent) to Mormon students (more than 70 percent). Hall offered this reply, which he has repeated in public since then: "We don't discriminate. We have a record of hiring the best qualified."



I know that in the course of applying for (private school) jobs (elsewhere) I have been asked to testify to my "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" and whatnot. But this is different. Here in Utah, some 40 percent of the population is Mormon. 70 percent of the students are Mormon. And very few of the faculty are.



Is this a problem? Should it even be considered? Is there an inherent advantage to seeking religious diversity among faculty? Even if that diversity means that they could very well either misunderstand the culture of the students they're teaching or even, at worst, offend/insult them?



Cheers

Scott



Edit: Forgot the link to the story. Click
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    Just hire people that can do their job. Their religious views are of no concern to a state university. There are a million other factors you could open the door to, to make it "proportional" to the people being taught. You could say, "Well, 75% of X University is liberal, so we need to hire 75% liberal faculty." It's just stupid. Like the USU guy said, hire people that are qualified to do their job.



    By the way, what is LDS? (EDIT: I suppose that stands for Latter-Day Saints.)
  • Reply 2 of 46
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Ganondorf

    Just hire people that can do their job. Their religious views are of no concern to a state university. There are a million other factors you could open the door to, to make it "proportional" to the people being taught. You could say, "Well, 75% of X University is liberal, so we need to hire 75% liberal faculty." It's just stupid. Like the USU guy said, hire people that are qualified to do their job.



    By the way, what is LDS?




    LDS = The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints = Mormon



    Cheers

    Scott
  • Reply 3 of 46
    aquafireaquafire Posts: 2,758member
    The only area of education where I would have some doubts would be in the area of Theology and possibly evolution/ big bang science.





    Otherwise...1+1 =2 is the same for Hindu, Muslim , Jew or Christian.



    Aqua



    Ps: A good teacher moves past their own prejudices.
  • Reply 4 of 46
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Aquafire

    The only area of education where I would have some doubts would be in the area of Theology and possibly evolution.



    Otherwise...1+1 =2 is the same for Hindu, Muslim , Jew or Christian.



    Aqua




    There's more to the university than science and math, though.
  • Reply 5 of 46
    aquafireaquafire Posts: 2,758member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by midwinter

    There's more to the university than science and math, though.



    And nothing that can't be dealt with through a Universities' internal standards or ethics committees.



    Aqua.
  • Reply 6 of 46
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    I don't think for one second that a faculty should reflect its community at least in terms of its racial or religious component. Quite oppositely, faculty diversity is an important educational aspect of college for students. Generally it reflects an institution's "Institutional Diversity Emphasis" according to (Alexander W. Astin, What Matters in College: Four Years Revisited). Specifically, a diverse faculty encourages a type of diversity called "classroom diversity." Other researchers use different names and classifications, but for the sake of argument, let's assume it refers to "the incorporation of knowledge about diverse groups into the curriculum that colleges and universities present to this more diverse array of students? (Patricia Gurin, UMuch AA Lawsuit Briefs). (It works in concert with structural [admissions] diversity and informal interactional diversity to use Gurin's terminology).



    I guess a discussion about how diversity operates would be worthwhile, but let's just say that if we're talking education outcomes, then everyone should value diversity. To those who say "let the most qualified person get the job," I ask, what constitutes merit? Once again, if we're talking education outcomes, diversity has clear and overwhelmingly worthwhile benefits.
  • Reply 7 of 46
    Why should a university represent the demographics of the town around it? Do not students come to great universities from around the country and around the world?



    Professors should be hired based on their ability to teach the class ?_their education level, their published works, their reputation in the academic community. No demographic standard should be upheld. To do so is absurd.



    Kirk
  • Reply 8 of 46
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Aquafire

    The only area of education where I would have some doubts would be in the area of Theology and possibly evolution/ big bang science.



    So what are you saying? Only people that major in theology and related fields are (big revelation here) the only people that teach it at a university level. Same with biology/natural sciences for evolution/big bang science, as you put it. Why should their religion play a role in their selection for the job? I think the idea is absolutely proposterous, and I am disgusted that anyone would give it any remote notion of credibility.



    Not only is it stupid, it's just flat out discrimination at a public level.
  • Reply 9 of 46
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,452member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by midwinter

    There was an interesting piece in the Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday about the hiring practices of Utah's universities. Here's a quote:



    " At the 10th annual Diversity Forum in Logan last December, business and community leaders pressed USU President Kermit Hall to improve the ratio of LDS faculty (fewer than 15 percent) to Mormon students (more than 70 percent). Hall offered this reply, which he has repeated in public since then: "We don't discriminate. We have a record of hiring the best qualified."



    I know that in the course of applying for (private school) jobs (elsewhere) I have been asked to testify to my "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" and whatnot. But this is different. Here in Utah, some 40 percent of the population is Mormon. 70 percent of the students are Mormon. And very few of the faculty are.



    Is this a problem? Should it even be considered? Is there an inherent advantage to seeking religious diversity among faculty? Even if that diversity means that they could very well either misunderstand the culture of the students they're teaching or even, at worst, offend/insult them?



    Cheers

    Scott



    Edit: Forgot the link to the story. Click




    It is interesting to read the many knees jerking on boards. Some of them are going to hurt themselves.



    If this were a racial or cultural issue with a "disadvantaged" minority, many of these same folks would be screaming for hiring preferences. If a school, or should I saw WHEN a school is say, 85% black and has a faculty that is 90% white, it is cited as proof of systematic racism within the hiring organization. It is also claimed that the teachers, not being members of that community, nor easily being able to walk in their shoes/relate, will be much less effective educators.



    There are more and more lawsuits being brough against universities for imposing speech codes, and enforcing basically one political view. I still don't understand the mentality that many different looking people, all espousing the same view, and likely all coming from the same type of financial background (since affirmative action isn't based on financial need, but on race) is somehow diversity.



    I don't know how you would improve the ratios, but it does seem odd that so many good LDS students, even ones who obviously attend the school and graduate from there would be unqualified to teach or gain jobs as the same schools. I know all applicants for the jobs don't attend that school but my point is really, that if there is someplace to find well educated, qualified LDS candidates, it would be Utah. So I do think it reflects some sort of systemic problem.



    Nick
  • Reply 10 of 46
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    Seems like the "diversity" of the community is used to pillar the "diversity" of the faculty. You know, "This neighborhood is 90% african american and the faculty at this private university is only .5% african american" with the implication that it's racist.





    So all you diversity statistics quoting freaks? Shouldn't the faculty reflect the local community?
  • Reply 11 of 46
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    Seems like the "diversity" of the community is used to pillar the "diversity" of the faculty. You know, "This neighborhood is 90% african american and the faculty at this private university is only .5% african american" with the implication that it's racist.





    So all you diversity statistics quoting freaks? Shouldn't the faculty reflect the local community?




    Your post doesn't make any sense.
  • Reply 12 of 46
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by midwinter

    Is this a problem? Should it even be considered? Is there an inherent advantage to seeking religious diversity among faculty? Even if that diversity means that they could very well either misunderstand the culture of the students they're teaching or even, at worst, offend/insult them?



    That's all a part of growing up for both students and teachers. If the students are so on edge about their religion they probably can't walk down an average street in an average city without getting offended so it's about time they learned how to chill.



    A professor should have run into this before, unless they're rookies. And in the event that they're a rookie, they should learn pretty quickly. If a professor can't over time learn to be receptive to their students then they shouldn't teach.
  • Reply 13 of 46
    race and religion are not at all the same.



    race is something that is perceived to be outwardly obvious; something that you can make a quick judgment about; something that is easy to bias against.



    religion is internal unless you are required to wear some outward vestiges. the biases only develop more slowly.
  • Reply 14 of 46
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,452member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by billybobsky

    race and religion are not at all the same.



    race is something that is perceived to be outwardly obvious; something that you can make a quick judgment about; something that is easy to bias against.



    religion is internal unless you are required to wear some outward vestiges. the biases only develop more slowly.




    Actually you are showing typical American ignorance.



    There are many parts of the world where religion isn't something you really choose, but rather is part of your identity. Churches helped bring about the nation/state model we use to day and many people still closely identify their church with their nationality.



    Nick
  • Reply 15 of 46
    how can i see that on a person walking down the street?



    you are showing your failure to understand simple english.
  • Reply 16 of 46
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,452member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by billybobsky

    how can i see that on a person walking down the street?



    you are showing your failure to understand simple english.




    If you, for example cannot understand how being Jewish for example, can be a nationality and a religion, then that is an issue you have to deal with.



    Nick
  • Reply 17 of 46
    huh?



    did you even read my post?



    note i actually even said wearing vestiges of the religion.



    i don't think you can see nationality either, so i really do not see where you are coming from on this one trumptman.



    the simple truth of the matter is that when i walk down the street and i see a person, i am more likely to associate that person with a specific "race" than with a religion (and i rarely even think about nationality) if i associate them with anything but being human...
  • Reply 18 of 46
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,452member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by billybobsky

    huh?



    did you even read my post?



    note i actually even said wearing vestiges of the religion.



    i don't think you can see nationality either, so i really do not see where you are coming from on this one trumptman.



    the simple truth of the matter is that when i walk down the street and i see a person, i am more likely to associate that person with a specific "race" than with a religion (and i rarely even think about nationality) if i associate them with anything but being human...




    Who said anything about wearing vestiges of religion?



    You can see nationality in plenty of instances. You speak of race because in the United States race is a big deal. You might see someone and think them asian. However if you were to speak to them, you might find they are Korean and not say, Cambodian. If you spoke with them at depth, you might even find out that they find it very insulting to think you could mistake Koreans for Cambodians because to them the differences between the two are as profound as claiming someone black and white look the same.



    But the thing is you focus on some sort of external sign that they are a certain religion, and don't get that certainly nationalities are associated almost exclusively with certain religions.



    After 9/11, we didn't hear people being worried about hate crimes against people just because they were Arabic. There was worry also about hate crimes against them because they were Muslims. There are countries where the entire population is considered to be Muslim.



    India for example has around of the people 80-85% practicing Hinduism. There are plenty of people that simply think of being Indian as also being Hindu. To claim that someone couldn't discriminate this way is just being naive.



    Nick
  • Reply 19 of 46
    again, you just don't get my post.



    It is far easier to bias against a person by how they look than by what internal conceptions they have including nationality and religion. That was the point and you don't get it.



    Edit: even in your description you use appearance as the initiator.



    (as an aside:

    I am notoriously bad at placing a person's appearance with a region let alone a nationality. I make no assumptions and hence your comments appear close minded. I always ask and if I am told that they are from India, I still don't assume that they are hindu. If I want to know their religion I will ask. I don't assume anything about people I meet unless I see them say wearing a cross or a skullcap... and still even then, i am not always sure.



    It is always safer to assume nothing.)
  • Reply 20 of 46
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    After 9/11, we didn't hear people being worried about hate crimes against people just because they were Arabic. There was worry also about hate crimes against them because they were Muslims. There are countries where the entire population is considered to be Muslim.





    Actually, I heard about complaints from Indians, muslim and non-muslim Arabs, Israelis, etc etc. Anyone who appeared to be "brown" was subject hostilities post 9-11. Actual hostilities and not just fears.
Sign In or Register to comment.