Stop Requiring DEI Statements From Faculty Applicants

In recent years, it has become increasingly common for universities to require faculty job applicants to submit statements on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as part of the hiring process. These statements are meant to demonstrate a candidate’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in their teaching, research, and service.

However, the growing trend of requiring DEI statements has sparked controversy. Some argue that these statements can be used as a political litmus test, with candidates who express the “right” views on DEI being given preference in hiring. Others worry that the focus on DEI statements can distract from more important qualifications, such as a candidate’s scholarly expertise and teaching ability.

Moreover, the pressure to submit a strong DEI statement can place an undue burden on faculty job applicants, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Crafting a compelling DEI statement requires a significant amount of time and effort, which can be a challenge for graduate students and early-career scholars who are already juggling multiple demands.

Given these concerns, it may be time for universities to reconsider the practice of requiring DEI statements from faculty applicants. Rather than mandating that all candidates submit a DEI statement, universities could instead make this an optional component of the application. This would allow candidates who wish to highlight their commitment to DEI to do so, while not penalizing those who choose not to submit a statement.

Universities could also take steps to ensure that DEI statements are used in a fair and transparent manner in the hiring process. This might involve providing clear guidelines on what should be included in a DEI statement, as well as training for search committees on how to evaluate these statements in a way that does not introduce bias.

Ultimately, the goal should be to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the faculty ranks, while also upholding the principles of academic merit and freedom. By rethinking the use of DEI statements, universities can work towards this goal in a way that is fair, equitable, and supportive of all faculty.