Commentary

‘Equity’ and ‘social justice’ at Maine’s public universities

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Over the last year, frequent communications from University of Maine System leaders Chancellor Malloy and UM/UMM President Ferrini-Mundy endorsed “equity” and “social justice” without ever actually defining those terms. Since the vast majority of the academic community is left of center and those who are not are well advised to keep their mouths shut, it is unlikely that the President and Chancellor heard any dissenting or differing (as in diverse) points of view.

President Ferrini-Mundy proudly noted that a Black Lives Matter flag had been flown over the Orono campus, apparently either unconcerned or in agreement with BLM about riots, arson, fraud and a commitment to abolishing the nuclear family. Racist “anti-racism” advocate Ibrahim X. Kendi was the honored and probably handsomely paid commencement speaker at the University of Southern Maine, located in Portland.

In late February, I sent the following to the Chancellor and President, copied to the UMM campus leadership:

Chancellor Malloy, President Ferrini-Mundy,

I am writing to you because you have committed UMM, UM and UMS to an aggressive effort to implement equity and social justice. To my knowledge, you have not offered a definition of those terms, nor had one offered by the faculty or the Board of Trustees. My understanding of those terms, based on my disciplinary training in economics and public policy, the work of economics Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek and my understanding of equal protection under the U.S. Constitution, is not a positive one. 

Attached you will find links to Hayek’s work on “social justice” and a recent paper on UMS and critical social justice from the Maine Policy Institute, with which I’ve been affiliated since its inception, and my own understanding of equity and social justice, which I intend to present to the faculty, Board of Trustees, legislators and the public.

As you probably know, I expect to retire in the next few years, and I recognize that this course of action may well imperil possible emeritus status. As I complete my 38th year at UMM, I realize that I am unwilling to simply sit silently as we travel down a path that I believe is profoundly at odds with freedom, equal protection and non-discrimination.

I believe as UMS leaders promoting equity and social justice you should offer definitions and attempt to explain why my understanding is incorrect. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

https://fee.org/articles/hayek-social-justice-demands-the-unequal-treatment-of-individuals/

https://mainepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/CSJ-Report-Final-compressed.pdf

Regards,

Jon Reisman

I am and have been sharing the following proposed definitions of “equity” and “social justice” with the UMM faculty, the UMS Board of Trustees, legislators on the Education Committee and now the public. The reaction from the left has been either silence or anger, mixed with predictable accusations of racism, sexism and hate speech. I still haven’t seen a definition of social justice. In a recent survey, the UMS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee defined “equity” as the active opposition to and removal of bias, which includes “implicit” or unconscious bias, otherwise known as “white privilege” and “systemic racism”. I think my definition is more honest. The President and Chancellor have yet to respond.

Equity

Equity means equal outcomes. If a racial group, gender or sexual preference makes up x percent of the population, they must make up x percent of any profession or group. Any representation less than x percent is prima facie evidence of systemic racism, sexism and/or gender discrimination, unless the group is an oppressor class such as white heterosexual males. Representation over x percent is prima facie evidence that the group is an oppressor class.

Social Justice

Social Justice means the government transfers and redistributes income, wealth and power from oppressor classes to oppressed classes. Oppressed classes have been the victims of systemic racism, sexism and/or gender discrimination as proven by inequity and unequal outcomes.

Reprinted with permission from the March 30, 2022 edition of The Machias Valley News Observer.

About Jonathan Reisman

Jon Reisman is an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias. His views are his own.

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