Like Virginia Tech, North Shore Community College Backtracks on Ideological Litmus Test
April 27, 2009
by Adam Kissel
Following FIRE's victory against an ideological litmus test for faculty at Virginia Tech, North Shore Community College (NSCC) has completely removed its requirement that candidates for faculty positions have an "appreciation of multiculturalism." After we wrote NSCC President Wayne Burton about his college's violation of freedom of conscience, NSCC agreed to keep this requirement out of all present and future job announcements. Recent listings now require only "successful experience interacting with culturally diverse populations," which is a matter of demonstrated skill, not ideology.
NSCC's response is revealing:
North Shore Community Colleges [sic] provides educational opportunity to over 7,500 full and part time students. These students represent every racial, ethnic and economic classification in our society. For this reason, the College places a high premium on job applicants with an understanding of and ability to work with diverse student populations.
For that reason, the College does not share FIRE's view that requiring job applicants to demonstrate an appreciation for multiculturalism amounts to the imposition of a "political litmus test" or interferes with the concept of academic freedom. That being said, the College appreciates how this requirement could be misconstrued in its interpretation.
So, NSCC is claiming that "multiculturalism" just means understanding and working well with diverse populations. An honest mistake, right? If you ask a human resources person who writes job listings, you might find that the person has some genuine confusion between "multiculturalism" the ideology, and what here seems to be something like "multicultural competence," the ability to work well with people from multiple different cultures. In fact, this exact mistake is present in the Program Handbook and Clinical Competency Packet for NSCC's Respiratory Care Program, which quotes the Position Statement on Cultural Diversity from the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC):
The AARC encourages and promotes a culture where personal and cultural backgrounds are utilized effectively to enhance our profession. The AARC accomplishes this by ... [d]emonstrating sensitivity to all forms of diversity and multiculturalism ...
But if you ask anyone with an English degree in an English department, for instance, they will know the difference right away. In fact, the English Department was the one that had the "appreciation of multiculturalism" requirement that was first brought to our attention. If you don't know that multiculturalism is an ideology, here is a healthy variety of definitions. The English department, at the least, should have known better.
But that is all in the past, now. Congratulations to North Shore Community College for reversing course and restoring the freedom of conscience to campus.
As for Virginia Tech, however, the story is not over. Stay tuned!