Half of professors believe diversity statements ‘violate academic freedom,’ survey finds

(Daily Caller) – Half of university professors disapprove of universities mandating that applicants submit diversity statements during the hiring process, a new survey released Tuesday by the…

(Daily Caller) – Half of university professors disapprove of universities mandating that applicants submit diversity statements during the hiring process, a new survey released Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) revealed.

Many universities require job applicants to submit a statement outlining their commitment and experience advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in their work. Half of university professors said that the requirement serves as an “ideological litmus test that violates academic freedom” while the other 50% allege the statements “are a justifiable requirement for a university job,” according to FIRE’s report.

“The faculty surveyed were split 50/50 on whether diversity, equity, and inclusion statements are a justifiable requirement for a university job or if they are a political litmus test,” Sean Stevens, FIRE director of polling and analytics and an author of the report, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The ideological differences in responses were stark — almost three-fourths of liberal faculty (74%) think DEI statements are a justifiable requirement while 90% of conservative faculty and a majority of politically moderate faculty (56%) consider them political litmus tests.”

Red state legislators are working to dismantle the use of diversity statements at colleges and universities. Utah, Florida and West Virginia lawmakers introduced bills to ban use of diversity statements for university hiring.

Texas Tech University announced Feb. 7 it would no longer require applicants to submit DEI statements after a National Association of Scholars report found that its biology department considered applicants’ statements and marked little commitment to or understanding of DEI as a weakness.

FIRE surveyed nearly 1,500 university faculty members between July 6, 2022 and August 31, 2022 in partnership with Social Science Research Services, according to the report. The report measured professors’ opinions of the state of academic freedom and freedom of speech on college campuses, but found that a majority of faculty worry about their speech and actively self-censor.

“We’re finally seeing the extent to which faculty have lost their peace of mind,” FIRE Research Fellow Nathan Honeycutt said, according to the press release. “When professors across the political spectrum become terrified of losing their jobs for exercising their rights, true academic inquiry and diversity of thought become nearly impossible.”

Moreover, 52% of faculty reported being worried about losing their job or hurting their reputation “because someone misunderstands something they have said or done, takes it out of context, or posts something from their past online,” the report reads. Conservative and moderate faculty members were more likely to report being worried compared to only 40% of liberal faculty members.

Nearly one-third of faculty reported they cannot “express their opinions on a subject because of how students, colleagues, or the administration would respond” while the share that admitted to being likely or extremely likely to self-censor ranged from 25% to 45%, according to the report. Similarly, 11% of faculty reported they have been “disciplined or threatened with discipline because of their teaching” and a portion said they support university administrators launching an investigation into a professor’s speech if it is controversial.

Social Science Research Services did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.