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Yet Another Victory Over DEI: MIT Abolishes ‘Diversity Statements’

May 7, 2024

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has eliminated so-called “diversity statements” in faculty job searches, another important victory in the fight against the discriminatory “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) regime that prevails across American universities.

Until this decision, MIT—along with many elite universities—had required applicants for faculty positions to submit “a statement regarding their views on diversity, inclusion, and belonging, including past and current contributions as well as their vision and plans for the future in these areas.”

This innocuous-sounding requirement concealed the real purpose of the diversity statement: to weed out candidates who would not pledge fealty to the DEI agenda. As reported by Steve McGuire, fellow at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, MIT advised job applicants that “a diversity statement is an opportunity to show that you care about the inclusion of many forms of identity in academia and in your field, including but not limited to gender, race/ethnicity, age, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and ability status.”

Notice that intellectual diversity does not appear in this list of relevant forms of diversity. A “good” diversity statement focuses on identity categories rather than substantive differences in ideology, methods, and areas of scholarship. And it’s not enough to endorse equal opportunity and equal treatment. For example, instead of saying, “My lab will be inclusive of women,” applicants should say, “I will strive for gender parity among my graduate students.” In other words, I will practice sex-based discrimination to try to achieve a 50-50 male-female balance.

MIT’s own advice thus demonstrates that diversity statements act as ideological screening mechanisms that urge applicants to endorse DEI’s obsession with identity categories. The widespread use of diversity statements has contributed to a severe political and ideological imbalance on American campuses. Consider that in a 2016-17 UCLA-Higher Education Research Institute survey, nearly 60 percent of faculty identified themselves as liberal or far-left. Only 12 percent identified as conservative or far-right.

As John Sailer, senior fellow at the National Association of Scholars, points out, MIT is the first elite private university to eliminate diversity statements on its own. In public higher education, Goldwater has ended this discriminatory practice in in 10 states, including Arizona, where a Goldwater report on the prevalence of mandatory diversity statements forced the state’s public university system to stop requiring them.

MIT has made a commendable decision that recognizes the incompatibility of the diversity statement’s ideological litmus test with academic freedom. Achieving victory against DEI, however, requires additional reforms that target DEI in university administrations and classrooms. Goldwater is leading the way in these efforts.

First, Goldwater is working to abolish discriminatory and wasteful DEI offices at public universities. These offices provide the shock troops that promote discriminatory practices in hiring and admissions and conduct mandatory training in DEI concepts. Goldwater has already enacted our policy to eliminate DEI offices at public universities in several states—including Texas, where Goldwater passed the nation’s most powerful law to completely dismantle the DEI bureaucracy in public higher education.

Second, Goldwater is advancing the Freedom from Indoctrination Act, a reform that addresses the flawed curriculums at public universities that favor DEI over rigorous academics. This policy prohibits universities from requiring politicized DEI courses as a condition of graduation. Universities should be in the business of education, not indoctrination. Just as ideological loyalty oaths should have no place in faculty hiring, universities should not force students to sit through DEI indoctrination to obtain a degree.

These reforms—along with the elimination of diversity statements—will go a long way toward restoring American universities to their foundational purposes: the pursuit of truth and the education of thoughtful citizens.

Timothy K. Minella is a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.



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