A private liberal arts college in Southern California has hired Alice Goffman, a white sociologist, despite student demands that the school hire a faculty member of color.
More than 100 sociology “students, alumni, and allies” at Pomona College in Claremont demanded in an open letter last week that the school rescind its offer to Ms. Goffman, describing her research on the impact of mass incarceration and policing in black communities as “racist, sensationalist and unethical,” the Claremont Independent reported.
According to the letter, Ms. Goffman beat out two “highly qualified” black women whose research focuses on intersectionality and structural inequality.
“With this hire, as of the 2017-2018 academic year, the Department will have zero women of color faculty members,” the letter read. “The Sociology Department claims to support students of color, but this hiring decision sends the opposite message. Students need authentic mentors. The hiring of Alice Goffman has already, and will continue to discourage students of color, and especially women of color, from entering the Sociology Department and academia for years to come.”
The letter also criticized “the flawed process” of hiring Ms. Goffman and called for a peer-appointed student committee to be “at the forefront of all current and future hiring decisions,” the Independent reported.
Despite the backlash, Ms. Goffman has accepted the offer to be a visiting professor of sociology, and the college said it’s happy with the decision.
“We are pleased that this [hiring] process resulted in an offer and an acceptance, and we look forward to her joining our vibrant academic community in the fall as a visiting professor,” a college spokesman told the Independent.