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Leaked audio ignites debate about job discrimination at university

Newsweek reports a University of Washington professor can be heard on an audio recording warning the psychology department it would be illegal to hire a Black professor over higher ranked White and Asian candidates.

The leaked audio became public two months after the university criticized its own hiring process for hiring the number three ranked Black candidate over a number one and two ranked White and Asian candidates, reported Inside Higher Ed.

The university concluded that “race was inappropriately considered and used in a way that is inconsistent with University policy in the hiring process.” It barred its psychology department from conducting searches for tenured and tenure-track faculty positions for two years.

That Black candidate accepted the position not aware of the controversy.

While criticizing the hiring process, the University of Washington made it clear that “The successful candidate is unquestionably qualified, and we are proud to have them as a valued faculty member in the department and at the University. They had no knowledge of the concerns raised and have our full support and respect, which we have communicated directly.”

“I personally am in favor of affirmative action, but we are legally not allowed to do it. I actually think we do owe the taxpayers who pay our salaries—the fact that it is illegal and has been democratically decided to be illegal by the taxpayers,” lone Fine said at the meeting, according to Newsweek.

Washington voters banned the use of race in hiring decisions by universities by passing a referendum in 1988.

But the committee members proceeded with their decision telling Fine “This is not kind of like we are giving someone a position because of their identity. We have three extremely qualified candidates and we are making a strategic offer based on what the department has deemed the most important[…]so that is not at all what is happening.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. When race cannot be a factor, white candidates benefit while Asian candidates are excluded from consideration. When race can be a factor, the Black and Latino candidates benefit while Asian candidates are excluded from consideration.

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