When the Times Literary Supplement of January 11 carried an advertisement by the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia, my interest was aroused. No, I am not in the market for a job as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing (two of these positions are offered), and no, none of my grandchildren are either. But I did spend many years at UBC, and have had a number of friends teaching CrWr there, and in general I like to keep up with things UBC.
The part of the advertisement that sparked my interest, in particular, began with the assurance that
The University of British Columbia hires on the basis of merit and is committed to employment equity and diversity within its community.
What can I say ? Bravo, bravo, bravo. Employment equity, great. No nepotism. No discrimination. That means, for example, that one of my Orthodox Jewish nephews could apply. Or that a young Tory acquaintance would not have his politics held against him. Right ?
Well, as they say in the television commercials: all that is true, but wait. There is more. The paragraph from which I have quoted continues as follows:
We especially welcome applications from members of visible minority groups, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and others with the skills and knowledge to engage productively with diverse communities. We encourage all qualified persons to apply; Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada will, however, be given priority.
So it seems that while all persons are equal, some are more equal than others. Everyone is encouraged to apply, but some more than others: “women, Aboriginal persons ….” are especially welcome. And if you are not a Canadian, well, you can apply, but you will not “be given priority.”
Moreover, the writing is so creative that no dictionary in the world will help you detect its meaning. What in the world are “persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities” ? Do they mean gay and, well, transgendered people ? The Creative Writers here will not say. I guess that’s why the writing is called Creative.