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The “Meritocracy” is over.
This week, the University of Iowa hired two sociology professors to serve as its new head of graduate studies.
It is one of the largest hires in the history of the department, which in 2014 became the first university in the nation to hire a white woman to its graduate school.
But the hiring was met with backlash.
Many critics, including students, were unhappy with the decision, which many interpreted as an attempt to bring back the “white supremacy” of past generations.
“This hire is a blatant attempt to erase the history and memory of white supremacy in the sciences,” said Sarah Hildebrand, an alumna of the school.
“The hiring of the two women does nothing to advance the history or the legacy of white supremacist ideology.
This is the end of the history-making and the legacy-making in the department.”
The hiring of sociology professors was met by protests on social media, with many calling it a “reverse white supremacy hiring.”
The university said the hiring of one sociology professor was not related to the hiring decision, but rather to the department’s “culture of excellence.”
“We are grateful for the thoughtful and professional consideration of a number of distinguished individuals who have made great contributions to our academic community and university,” the university said in a statement.
But many students and faculty were unhappy.
“I was really disappointed in the hiring,” said Rachel Lehner, an anthropology major who was a student in the sociology department from 2009 to 2012.
“It’s not a coincidence that the hiring is happening in the same year of the hiring and that both women are white.
It’s very troubling.
It just reinforces the idea that sociology is a racist, white supremacist institution.”
“If you want to be a scholar and you want the university to pay you well, and you can be white, and a woman, and able to do the work that you love and that you need to do and you don’t have to hide it, and it’s going to happen, then you need an institution that is supportive of you and values your work and your talents and your education and your research,” said Lehner.
She added that she felt as though the hiring “is a way of trying to erase a lot of the things that have been done and to make it all about how good you are.”
The students who were protesting against the hiring called it a case of “reverse racism” on social-media platforms.
“We’re not calling for the resignation of the president.
We’re calling for an apology for the hiring, and we’re calling on the administration to apologize for the administration and to pay us to study and teach and write,” said sophomore Hannah Pappas.
“These are students who have gone on to achieve things.
And they’ve been able to put a dent in the racist system.
They are being asked to do a job that was not meant for them.”
In a statement, the university defended the hiring.
“In hiring this graduate student, the president and the Board of Regents of the University at Iowa were mindful of the diversity of the university community, and in particular the needs of African American and women scholars who will play important roles in the university’s graduate program,” the statement said.
“With this hire, the regents are creating a diverse, professional and academically challenging environment for graduate students.
We are proud of the graduate student’s work and look forward to welcoming her to the university.”
The hire was met “with fierce opposition” from the sociology professors who had already left the department in protest, according to Hildebrad.
“If the university had hired more white men, the number of sociology graduate students would be lower and there would be less diversity in the field,” she said.
The hiring comes on the heels of a recent hire of an anthropology professor who was white, a hire of a sociology professor who had never been hired at the school, and the hiring this past spring of a psychology professor who hadn’t taught in the past two years.