The University of Guelph’s (U of G) Department of Sociology and Anthropology is looking to hire a new assistant professor – but eligible applicants must “identify” as black or Indigenous. 

The recruitment is part of the university’s Black and Indigenous Hiring Initiative, a $3.6 million “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” (EDI) program.

The job posting for the Assistant Professor in Sociological Criminology found on U of G’s website notes that “the Department seeks applicants with teaching interests in the area of racialization, crime and social control, and an active, clearly articulated international, comparative, and/or domestic research agenda that critically engages this area” 

The successful candidate will teach four courses in the undergraduate program in Criminal Justice and Public Policy and the graduate program in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy. They will also be provided the opportunity to develop new courses in their area of specialization.

Those interested in the position must be “qualified individuals who identify as persons of Black African or Caribbean descent and/or Indigenous (First Nation, Inuit, Métis, Native American, Alaskan Native, or Native Hawaiian).”

U of G says, “applicants will be asked to self-identify through the Applicant Tracking Questionnaire (ATQ) facilitated by Diversity and Human Rights,” adding that “applicants who self-identify as Indigenous on the ATQ will be asked to confirm their Indigenous citizenship/membership and/or ancestral and kinship connections to a recognized and inherent Indigenous nation, community, treaty, land claim, territory or region through a confidential follow-up process facilitated by Indigenous Initiatives.”

The university’s questionnaire also asks candidates their gender and their sexual orientation.

U of G says applicants for the position must also support its indigenization agenda as well as EDI ideology.

“Applicants must demonstrate a willingness and ability to contribute to the mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students, to the Department’s collegial and collaborative intellectual community, to the revitalization of the CCJP course-based Master’s program, and to College and University goals and priorities of indigenization, equity, diversity, and inclusion,” reads the job posting.

U of G says it particularly encourages black and Indigenous applicants who are also women, disabled, and/or “identify as 2SLGBTQIA+” to apply.

The Black and Indigenous Hiring Initiative was launched last year with the goal of increasing diversity among faculty. U of G seeks to hire at least 15 new black faculty members and four or more Indigenous faculty members during the next three years.

U of G also notes that “the faculty and staff positions will be filled in areas that support the advancement of Black and Indigenous academic excellence and the University of Guelph’s commitments to inclusion, anti-racism, indigenization, and decolonization,”

This is not the first time that the University of Guelph has made headlines over controversial practices related to race.

As previously reported by True North’s Campus Watch series, the university has hosted several racially segregated events, including a black-only yoga session and art workshop, as well as a “sensual embodiment” session exclusive to non-white people who identify as “2SLGBTQIA+”. 

Other Ontario universities who have engaged in race-based hiring practices include Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson) and the University of Ottawa – which excluded white scholars from professor positions as a way to “combat systemic racial discrimination.”

Affirmative action hiring practices have been criticized by scholars.

St. Mary’s University philosophy professor and former president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship  Mark Mercer previously told True North, “What we want as professors are the people who combine teaching and research to the highest degree. So by bringing in something irrelevant, such as ethnicity or race, the university is cutting itself off from potentially the best scholars.” 

“The scholar sees him or herself as someone who’s actively trying to understand something,” said Mercer, adding that “understanding doesn’t track race or sex or ethnicity or any of these other categories.”

Mercer finds EDI initiatives and ideology to be fundamentally anti-academic. The University of Guelph did not respond to True North’s request for comment in time for publication.