From Hiring to Admissions, Universities Seek Ideological Conformity in Applicants

Matthew Wilson:

Are you a freshly-minted Ph.D. holder interested in becoming a tenure-track computer science professor at UNC-Chapel Hill? First, you’ll have to submit a “diversity statement” describing your “commitment to diversity.”

Candidates seeking to be an assistant professor at Boston University’s business school should includereferences to the “diversity contributions” they would bring in their cover letter, taking care to demonstrate that they fall in line with the college’s “institutional commitment” to maintaining an “inclusive, equitable, and diverse” campus. Anyone applying for open tenure-track positions in George Mason University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department will be “expected” to “embrace” and “advance” the school’s “strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” And those interested in teaching human anatomy at East Carolina University should present “statements” describing their “experience with” and “commitment” to “equity and diversity in teaching, research, and service.”

Along with the standard parts of an application for a job in academia―a curriculum vitae, transcripts, personal statements, references, and research experience―more and more universities, both in North Carolina and across the country, are evaluating whether candidates conform with institutional commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies. 

According to a recent study by the American Enterprise Institute, approximately one in five university-sponsored faculty job postings require potential employees to submit statements in support of DEI initiatives as a part of their applications, while nearly seventy percent mention the words “diversity” or “diverse.” In one instance at the University of California, Berkeley, the think tank’s report noted (citing Andrew Gillen), 679 of 893―or more than three-quarters―of qualified applicants for a faculty position in the life sciences were eliminated from “serious consideration” after their “contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion” failed to meet the “high standard” set by the university.