MIT first elite school to ban mandatory diversity statements for faculty applicants

The decision by officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to end the use of mandatory diversity statements in faculty hiring is the first of its kind by a private elite university…

The decision by officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to end the use of mandatory diversity statements in faculty hiring is the first of its kind by a private elite university in the United States, one that is “likely to be a watershed moment.”

That’s how John Sailer, a fellow at the National Association of Scholars, described the “momentous” news at Unherd on Sunday. MIT’s new direction, he wrote, “marks an inflection point in the battle over diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in higher education.”

“[R]equests for a statement on diversity will no longer be part of applications for any faculty positions at MIT,” a school spokesperson confirmed to Sailer. The decision was reportedly made by controversial MIT President Sally Kornbluth, along with the backing of the provost, chancellor and the six academic deans.

Sailer added: “In a statement provided to me via email, president Kornbluth notes: ‘We can build an inclusive environment in many ways, but compelled statements impinge on freedom of expression, and they don’t work.’”

The required statements regarding faculty applicants’ views on diversity, equity, inclusion, and, more recently, “belonging,” as well as descriptions of their past contributions to the DEI cause and plans to support its future, have become a political litmus test that can make or break the decision to hire a candidate.

“As one dean at Emory University put it while describing her approach to hiring, ‘Diversity statement, then dossier,’” Sailer wrote.

While some public universities in Republican-led states have backed away from continuing DEI offices or using mandatory diversity statements as a result of pressure or legislation enacted by state lawmakers, MIT’s move, says Sailer, is “different.” 

“[R]eform from within, prompted by a university president alongside deans and provosts, at a private institution,” he noted, and used an example to underscore the likelihood that other private elite schools will follow suit: 

Last month, Harvard Law School’s Randall Kennedy — a self-described “scholar on the Left committed to struggles for social justice” — described the general sentiment: “It would be hard to overstate the degree to which many academics at Harvard and beyond feel intense and growing resentment against the DEI enterprise because of features that are perhaps most evident in the demand for DEI statements.” 

In an expanded piece at The Free Press in January 2023, Sailer explained the intense pressures that exist for those in academia who fail to swear allegiance to the powerful DEI bureaucracy. 

“The principles commonly known as ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ (DEI) are meant to sound like a promise to provide welcome and opportunity to all on campus,” he pointed out. “And to the ordinary American, those values sound virtuous and unobjectionable.” 

Indeed, the left is masterful at developing language and a narrative surrounding a radical concept that allows average people to not only feel comfortable accepting it, but also to experience guilt if they question it. Abortion – ending the life of unborn babies – is promoted as “health care,” and assisted suicide as “aid in dying.” Encouraging children with significant psychological issues to be prescribed harmful drugs and surgeries to help support their belief it will change their gender has become, for the left, an issue of “equality.” 

“But many working in academia increasingly understand that [DEI principles] instead imply a set of controversial political and social views,” Sailer wrote. “And that in order to advance in their careers, they must demonstrate fealty to vague and ever-expanding DEI demands and to the people who enforce them. Failing to comply, or expressing doubt or concern, means risking career ruin.” 

Over a year later, the dam may be ready to break with MIT’s “watershed moment” as American universities implode with anti-American rage embedded in pro-Hamas rhetoric.  

“Diversity statements don’t merely create an orthodoxy,” Sailer observed at Unherd. “They create a uniquely bad orthodoxy, one that is corrosive to civic life and inimical to true higher education.”