Sunday, May 19

Elite university eliminates DEI hiring requirement: ‘They don’t work’

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) became the first elite institution to scrap diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) statements from its faculty hiring process. 

On Sunday, the school confirmed to UnHerd that it was removing a requirement that mandated all prospective faculty submit a diversity, equity and inclusion statement during the hiring process. A university spokesperson told Fox News Digital that “requests for a statement on diversity will no longer be part of applications for any faculty positions at MIT” and added that the decision was made by the school’s president, Sally Kornbluth, with the support of the Provost, Chancellor, and all six academic deans.

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“My goals are to tap into the full scope of human talent, to bring the very best to MIT, and to make sure they thrive once here,” Kornbluth said. “We can build an inclusive environment in many ways, but compelled statements impinge on freedom of expression, and they don’t work.”

Prior to the change, MIT required candidates applying for faculty positions to submit a statement that “demonstrates knowledge of challenges related to diversity, equity, and inclusion” as well as outlining their “track record of working with diverse groups of people” and how they plan to advance DEI in their position at the school, according to MIT’s Communication Lab.

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A 2023 survey conducted by freedom of speech advocacy group the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) found that “large portions of MIT faculty and students are afraid to express their views in various academic settings.”

Advocates for free speech and academic freedom have continuously spoken out against requiring DEI statements in university hiring, a practice that many higher education institutions have adopted since the early 2010s. 

FIRE previously warned that diversity statement requirements “function as ideological litmus tests” that “threaten employment or advancement of opportunities for faculty who dissent from prevailing thought on DEI.”

Last month, a Harvard Law School professor penned a column in the Harvard Crimson urging the Ivy League to eliminate its mandatory DEI statements, arguing that they force faculty and staff to “toe a political line.”

“I am a scholar on the left committed to struggles for social justice,” Randall L. Kennedy wrote. “The realities surrounding mandatory DEI statements, however, make me wince. The practice of demanding them ought to be abandoned, both at Harvard and beyond.”

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