I can assure you that many faculty members truly care about diversity and equity and will read your statement closely. I have been in the room when the diversity statement of every single finalist for a job search was scrutinized. The candidates who submitted strong statements wrote about their experiences teaching first-generation college students, their involvement with LGBTQ student groups, their experiences teaching in inner-city high schools and their awareness of how systemic inequalities affect students’ ability to excel. Applicants mentioned their teaching and activism and highlighted their commitment to diversity and equity in higher education.
However, realistically speaking, the inclusive community must have its hierarchies. One will be a hierarchy of skills, talents, and achievements. I learned in college that I would never be as brilliant as the young woman who graduated first in our class—no matter how hard I worked. A prodigy, she excelled in all subjects, sang, directed plays, and was likeable as well as admirable. Allen writes that ideal institutions will “lift the educational level of the entire population as high as possible while also making it possible for those with special gifts to achieve the highest heights of intellectual and creative excellence.” Still another hierarchy will be the hard-won faculty control over the curriculum. Finally, the demands of administering the inclusive community breed a third hierarchy. Some offices simply have more authority and obligations than others. Democratic processes can choose the officeholders, but once chosen, a man or woman has a hard job to do. He or she must articulate an institution’s mission, exercise power responsibly, make and defend tangled decisions, broker the needs of many constituencies, handle emergencies both grave and ludicrous. I once heard one of the most brilliant young college presidents in the United States say that students usually called her by her first name, but in times of stress and trial, she was President X.