Public universities ending diversity, inclusion statements

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Arizona’s public universities are no longer going to include diversity, equity and inclusion statements in job applications for staff and faculty members. (Deposit Photos)

Public universities ending diversity, inclusion statements

Arizona’s public universities are discontinuing diversity, equity and inclusion statements in job applications for faculty and staff.

Representatives for the Arizona Board of Regents and the universities say they have never required DEI statements but rather requested them for some job applications. But the Goldwater Institute, the conservative organization that originally flagged the practice, noted a swath of prior job postings with DEI statements listed under required materials.

ASU, public universities, diversity, equity, inclusion
Sarah Harper

“The use of DEI statements has never been required by ABOR or the public universities,” Sarah Harper, vice president of communications for ABOR, said in a statement. “While in the past, some departments at the universities may have included a request for a DEI statement in a job application, the universities have discontinued any requests for such statements in job applications.”

Harper noted some posted job applications that include requests for a DEI statement may still appear online, but the universities are in the process of updating postings to reflect the change.

The shift comes after January report from the Goldwater Institute decried the “political litmus test,” or “loyalty oaths.”

The Goldwater Institute found in fall 2022, diversity statements were required in 81% of job postings at Arizona State University, 73% of job postings at Northern Arizona University and 28% of job postings at the University of Arizona.

Jonathan Butcher, Goldwater Institute senior fellow and author of the report, claimed universities requiring DEI statements likely violate both free speech protections in the First Amendment and a provision of the Arizona Constitution, which holds, “no religious or political test or qualification shall ever be required as a condition of admission into any public educational institution of the state, as teacher, student, or pupil.”

“A school is asking a potential applicant to sort of abide by a particular orthodoxy,” Butcher said. “Removing this requirement, I think is a good indicator of where we are moving as a culture…. we have to recognize meritocracy and colorblindness.”

Butcher’s report cited plans and pledges by each university to enhance DEI initiatives in recent years.

NAU wrote a provision into its Diversity Strategic Plan to “require a statement on diversity and inclusion for applicants for all administrator, faculty, and designated professional and staff positions.”

ASU’s Listen Invest Facilitate Teach (LIFT) report and Commitment to Black students, faculty and staff noted a focus on systemic bias in hiring practices. The LIFT report notes the Office of Inclusion and Community Engagement would work to ensure DEI principles were taken into consideration by search committees.

Butcher said legislative actions to limit “loyalty oaths” had taken hold in states like Florida and Texas, with some legislation modeled by the Goldwater Institute.

But legislative attempts to eliminate DEI in Arizona fell flat last session. Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, sponsored a bill to exclude any public entity from requiring or sponsoring any DEI training or promoting any theories or ideologies tied to buzz words typically maligned by conservatives, though the legislation ultimately failed.

Spokespeople for NAU and UofA declined to comment.

Veronica Sanchez, a spokesperson for ASU, confirmed they had discontinued the use of DEI statements in all job applications, but she noted in a written statement DEI statements are “not essential to ASU’s commitment to inclusive excellence found in the ASU charter.”