Universities are increasingly relying on “diversity statements” for faculty hiring and promotion, according to a new report from the Oregon Association of Scholars.
These statements have strong ties to liberal ideology, such as the assumption of group victimization and claims for group-based entitlements, effectively making them “partisan litmus tests” to “weed out non-left wing scholars,” the association states in its report.
The association notes that many schools now link to articles explaining how to craft a diversity statement, which include affirmations that a professor will “keep the white students from dominating all classroom discussions,” or “reflect a commitment to queer visibility,” or teach students “not to thoughtlessly reproduce the standard white and Western model of legitimate knowledge.”
A focus on “racial oppression, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and other commonly recognized forms of oppression” has also been outlined as good fodder for diversity statements, according to a column in Inside Higher Ed.
More than 20 colleges have a stated requirement that faculty must show their commitment to the ideals of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” reports the Oregon Association of Scholars. The actual figure is likely much higher, however. A quick google search of a school’s name and “diversity statement” reveals that many institutions require such statements for entrance into PhD programs or application for faculty positions.
The University of Oregon introduced one such requirement in 2015 that a faculty member’s teaching must “reflect the diversity of the field, including the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of its scholars and practitioners.” Also, the university states a commitment to “incorporating issues of equity, implicit bias, and cultural understanding in new faculty searches.”
Similarly, the 10-campus University of California system implemented mandatory diversity statement for all new hires, and the specific criteria used to evaluate a candidate’s commitment to diversity includes whether a scholar’s research addresses “race, gender, economic justice or inequality,” according to the Oregon Association of Scholars’ report.
“Today the mandatory ‘diversity statement’ threatens to become a ‘fifth document’ in faculty hiring and promotion at many universities (in addition to cover letter, curriculum vitae, research statement, and teaching statement),” states the Oregon Association of Scholars, which is affiliated with the right-of-center National Association of Scholars.
This trend is problematic for academic freedom and research excellence as faculty will “spend more time signaling their zealous support and making sure not to challenge students in ways that might be construed as a threat to this ideology,” the group adds in their March 2017 report.