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DEI’s Radical Regime Threatens Higher Education

January 19, 2023

It’s a full-frontal assault on academic freedom: progressive activists are using a toxic web of publicly funded, politically radical diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices to take over higher education. Look no further than Arizona’s public university system, where the Goldwater Institute uncovered that up to 80% of faculty job postings require applicants to pledge fealty at the altar of “wokeness.”

It’s a political litmus test to work for taxpayer-funded institutions—and it’s wrong.

Goldwater’s new policy report, The New Loyalty Oaths: How Arizona’s Public Universities Compel Job Applicants to Endorse Progressive Politics, chronicles a rapidly growing problem in Arizona’s public universities: the mandatory “diversity statement.” Also called DEI statements, these new features of university job applications force candidates to express their progressive bona fides—their philosophical commitment to dogmas like Critical Race Theory (CRT), their past activism and future plans for activism, and their devotion to integrating DEI principles and issues into their professional output.

A number of concerned parties, including the National Association of Scholars’ John D. Sailer, have warned of DEI statements becoming a required portion of any application to work for a university. In Goldwater’s new report, the Institute specifically examines the job postings at the three major public universities in the state of Arizona. In the fall of 2022, up to 80% of faculty jobs advertised at Arizona’s public universities required applicants to profess their commitment to DEI separate from their resumes, CVs, past publications, references, and cover letters. Furthermore, the jobs that required DEI statements ranged from post-doctoral physics research positions that lacked any teaching component to non-tenure track mechanical engineering professors.

This practice, if left unchecked, promises to rapidly grow to 100% of job postings, as it has already broken out of confinement within the social sciences and humanities. If the universities move forward with excluding anyone who does not swear fealty to the throne of progressive politics, one can’t help but wonder who will be left to do any research, teaching, or mentorship.

Truly, consider who would be excluded if DEI statements were all-encompassing. It’s more than just conservatives. Anyone who considers a moderate could have a hard time throatily endorsing the full gamut of DEI principles. Already, older liberals have found themselves on the outs of their scholarly communities. Even old-school Marxists—whose radical leftism argues that societal divisions are primarily class-based—might be insufficiently extreme for the new cadre of DEI zealots who consider race or gender as the defining axis of oppression. (Ironic, though, it would be for the former to see themselves out of a career simply for believing that the best way to overthrow oppressive capitalists is by uniting the whole proletariat instead of focusing on the squabbles of identity politics.) Indeed, it is perhaps not even beyond imagination for the University of Arizona to run the likes of far left scholar Noam Chomsky out of Tucson for signing the much-maligned (by the progressive left) Harper’s Letter, which recently cautioned against the excesses of cancel culture.

Among the biggest dangers of this sort of forced ideological conformity is that incredible talent will be cast aside for some perceived political failure in spite of their academic résumé. Again, the perceived political failings are not limited to the sin of conservatism. According to Northern Arizona University’s official guide on writing a good DEI statement, applicants should include examples of their “engagement with service activities focused on DEI[J] efforts” and “past or future integration of DEI[J] aspects or issues into your research activities.” In other words, they are looking for someone with a history of public progressive activism and research goals that support progressive issues. That is such a remarkably small number of candidates, especially in rather apolitical fields like physics and mechanical engineering. How small of a group is it? Well, in 2020, UC Berkeley saw fit to throw out 76% of their applications for flunking the school’s diversity rubric, before taking into account any other part of the application.

Beyond the First Amendment concerns of public universities compelling speech, undermining academic freedom, and promoting political discrimination against what is likely a majority of potential applicants, Arizona’s universities are threatening intellectual self-harm through extreme brain drain. The stewards of these institutions must act to stop this.



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