Victory for Academic Freedom: Texas Tech Ditches Diversity Statements

National Association of Scholars

New York, NY; February 8, 2023 – The National Association of Scholars (NAS) applauds the speed with which Texas Tech University jettisoned its requirement that candidates for faculty positions submit “diversity statements.” This decision came just hours after NAS senior fellow John Sailer published “How ‘Diversity’ Policing Fails Science” in the Wall Street Journal on February 7, in which he detailed how the Texas Tech Department of Biological Sciences used these statements. Texas Tech notes in its announcement that it has “immediately withdr[awn] this practice” and related “evaluation rubrics.” The university also declared that it would initiate “a review of hiring procedures across all colleges and departments.”

This is a breakthrough in the larger battle against higher education’s attempt to impose diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) standards on faculty hiring, along with every other aspect of college and university life. Sailer used a freedom of information request to obtain the public university search committee’s evaluations of candidates. This is the first time that the public has been able to see how DEI standards affect applicants.

“These documents prove definitively that ‘diversity’ statements are not a benign addition to a candidate’s application,” noted Sailer. “These statements clearly encourage a narrow focus on race and gender and open the door for search committees to screen candidates by political association. DEI statements are a clear danger to academic freedom.”

NAS posted to its website copies of the actual documents, which show candidates for positions in the Department of Biological Sciences denigrated for failing to display sufficient wokeness. One candidate was found at fault because he professed to treat all students “equally,” which showed his “lack of understanding of equity and inclusion issues.” Another was faulted for using the pronoun “he” to refer to a professor. Still another failed to “distinguish well between international and domestic students and their DEI needs.”

Other candidates were rewarded for “lived experience with axes of diversity”; using a “land acknowledgement”; and demonstrating “awareness” of the problems of “unconscious bias [and] microaggressions.”

“I am glad that Texas Tech acted so quickly to stop this abuse,” said Peter W. Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars. “This is, however, a problem that goes deeper than ‘diversity statements.’” Wood added, “American higher education has become obsessed with the ideology of racial ‘equity,’ to the point where ordinary fairness, as well as standards of intellectual excellence, have been undermined. I am pleased that NAS was able to bring this to the attention of the administration at Texas Tech, and I hope that other universities are paying attention.”

NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.

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For more information about this topic, please contact Chance Layton at [email protected].

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