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Arizona Universities Demand Applicants’ Allegiance to Progressive Politics

January 17, 2023

Arizona’s public universities may be stacking the deck against conservative students and staff, as documented in a just-released Goldwater Institute report, The New Loyalty Oaths: How Arizona’s Public Universities Compel Job Applicants to Endorse Progressive Politics.

Indeed, joining a herd of colleges across the nation, Arizona’s three public universities have all begun forcing faculty job applicants to provide mandatory “diversity statements” as a condition of hiring. The statements—which ostensibly function to promote innocuous-sounding concepts such as “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI)—are increasingly used across academia as a political screening test to enforce intellectual and political conformity in support of leftwing concepts aligned with Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Key findings include:

  • Up to 80% of faculty job openings at Arizona’s public universities now similarly push applicants to pledge support for DEI.
  • As of fall 2022, diversity statements are mandated in over a quarter (28%) of job postings at the University of Arizona, nearly three-quarters (73%) of job postings at Northern Arizona University, and in more than four of five (81%) job postings at Arizona State University.
  • Diversity statement practices in Arizona’s public universities include replacing the traditional cover letter with a DEI statement, forcing candidates to provide up to two full pages detailing their activism or commitment to the DEI regime, and calling on applicants to endorse CRT-based concepts such as “intersectional personal identities.”

At the University of California system, such diversity statements have been used to eliminate more than 75% of applicants from consideration due to their failure to endorse progressive, racialized notions of DEI—regardless of the candidates’ academic caliber.

As explored in the new Goldwater report, up to 80% of faculty job openings at Arizona’s public universities now similarly push applicants to pledge support for DEI. At Northern Arizona University (NAU), candidates are even explicitly encouraged to infuse CRT-based terminology such as “intersectional personal identities” in their required responses. (As The Association of American Law Schools has noted, CRT scholar “Professor [Kimberlé] Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality,” [and] developed the framework for critical race theory.”)

Unfortunately, such ideological screens are being deployed across the entire institutions, with Arizona’s DEI administrators successfully amending university-wide policies to call for the infusion of diversity statements in all faculty and administrative hires. Such policies now demand diversity statements even from scholars pursuing such incredibly technical, specialized research areas as “ultra-bright nano-structured photoemission electron” studies.

Such diversity statements have been widely condemned by both left- and right-leaning academic and legal scholars for promoting an ideological agenda, compelling speech, chilling dissent, and exacerbating the already extreme partisan imbalance of higher education, where already at least five times more left-leaning faculty have been hired than conservative scholars. At the University of Arizona, faculty registered as Democrats now outnumber Republicans by more than 7 to 1. At Arizona State University, Democrats outnumber Republican faculty more than 12 to 1.

As Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Butcher writes in the report’s preface: “DEI programs and ‘statements’ do not produce free expression nor more diversity of thought, equal opportunities, and a culture that includes everyone in school activities because DEI’s guiding principles are rooted in the racially discriminatory worldview known as critical race theory.”

Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier has similarly noted, “One way to understand the problem is to examine the academic literature regarding equity and inclusion today… It is obvious that these ideas and policy frameworks are not politically neutral. Rather, they map onto the left/progressive wing of the political spectrum, and their claims are arguable and highly contested. This ideological context is hardly subtle.”

As noted in the report, the clear political connotations of the DEI framework likewise suggest that the Arizona universities may be attempting to skirt the Arizona state constitution’s ban on the use of political tests in public educational institutions, and may also be violating several aspects of protected 1st Amendment speech.

While Arizona has made great strides to promote the free exchange of ideas—such as the adoption of the Goldwater Institute’s Campus Free Speech Act—the new and rapid proliferation of mandatory diversity statements threatens to decimate those protections by simply suppressing political dissent before it even appears on campus.

It is imperative, therefore, that the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) and/or state lawmakers protect faculty, students and applicants from these tests by prohibiting their use in Arizona university operations in a manner similar to the Institute’s model policy solution.

You can read the full report, The New Loyalty Oaths: How Arizona’s Public Universities Compel Job Applicants to Endorse Progressive Politics, here.



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