Posted on February 9, 2023

How Diversity Statements Have Become Faculty Litmus Tests at US Colleges

Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner, February 6, 2023

The proliferation of diversity, equity, and inclusion statements by universities across the country in faculty hiring is raising alarm bells among free speech advocates who say the practice is nothing short of an ideological litmus test.

recent report from the Goldwater Institute found that 80% of job postings for Arizona’s public universities required applicants to submit a statement detailing their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The findings built on a 2021 report from the American Enterprise Institute that revealed at least 20% of faculty positions required a diversity statement, which the authors estimated was likely an undercount.


But pinpointing exactly when and how DEI statements became so prevalent is a difficult task, said Jonathan Butcher, an education expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Butcher, who contributed to the Goldwater Institute report, told the Washington Examiner that DEI statements are the latest expression of critical theory in the higher education ecosystem. The increasing prevalence of such statements, Butcher said, is a testament to what universities see as the goal of their institutions.


Butcher pointed to the University of Pennsylvania as one of the most egregious examples of what universities expect from diversity statements. The school’s website provides a step-by-step guide on how to write an “effective” statement.

In addition to directing applicants to describe what diversity means to them, the how-to guide says an applicant’s “experiences working with diverse populations will themselves be diverse” and lists “service experience” with minorities and other groups as an example of information that should be included.


{snip} Heritage’s Butcher sees multiple ways for the government to step in and abolish the DEI litmus tests.

“Public institutions should not be allowed to use a DEI statement as a way of weeding an applicant out,” he said. “Public money should not be used to fund DEI offices, in public school districts or on college campuses.”

“There are two main reasons for that,” Butcher continued. “One is that the actions of these offices promote or contribute to racial discrimination. They contribute to discriminatory treatment in the form of affirmative action, in the form of bias response teams in the form of these DEI statements to hire employees. And then for two, hundreds of studies have looked at the effects on participants in these programs and find that it doesn’t change their behavior; it doesn’t change their attitudes. And in some cases, it can even create resentment through the course of DEI trainings.”