On August 8, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), which governs Arizona’s public universities, confirmed that it has ended the use of diversity statements in faculty job applications. Common but controversial, these statements require faculty applicants to explain their past and planned contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). ABOR’s decision comes after a Goldwater Institute report showed that up to 80% of faculty job openings at Arizona’s public universities required such statements. With its new policy, ABOR joins a small list of university leaders that have definitively rejected diversity statements.
Absent from that list, at least so far, is any university in Ohio, where DEI in hiring and beyond remains de rigueur. Through a public records request, the National Association of Scholars has uncovered documents showing how Miami University, one of Ohio’s top public universities, implements an across-the-board diversity statement requirement.
A transcript of Miami University’s faculty search training describes diversity statements as a requirement for every search—this goes even further than Arizona’s public universities. The transcript emphasizes that diversity statements should play a role in the faculty selection process and “not be relegated to the end of the review of a candidate’s materials or separate from a candidate’s other materials.”
The training instructs search committees to create a rubric for evaluating the statements and provides its own example rubric, a document that illustrates the perils of such evaluations. The rubric rewards a “commitment to allyhood through learning about structural inequities”—failing to elaborate on the contested question of what counts as an “inequity.” It likewise rewards an “understanding of barriers” faced by various minority groups. Recall that many denizens of university diversity offices consider “microaggression,” “microinequities,” and “microinvalidations” to be among those supposed barriers.
Most seriously, the Miami rubric recommends giving a high score to candidates for “approaching research through an equity lens or through theoretical frameworks connected to DEI,” which should give pause to anyone who cares about the unbiased pursuit of truth. At worst, this priority tips the scale in favor of scientists and scholars who begin their research with a predetermined conclusion in mind.
Miami’s faculty search training insists that “diversity statements are not a political test” and states that no candidates should be asked to disclose their political affiliation. This misses the point. Assessments of a scholar’s “allyhood” and “equity lens” are in themselves an invitation to punish wrongthink. Ohio’s universities should know better.