REPORT: The faculty DEI statement is ‘The New Loyalty Oath’

A report from the Goldwater Institute shows that Arizona universities are requiring DEI statements, with some job postings asking about ‘the role played by intersectional personal identities.’

DEI requirements, Goldwater reported, violate the Arizona Constitution’s prohibition of ‘political litmus tests’ and have been used to weed out candidates based on ideology.

A new report from the Goldwater Institute reveals just how entrenched diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) requirements are at Arizona’s public universities. 

“The New Loyalty Oaths: How Arizona’s Public Universities Compel Job Applicants to Endorse Progressive Politics” analyzed required DEI statements in faculty hiring at the University of Arizona (UArizona), Northern Arizona University (NAU), and Arizona State University (ASU). 

Regardless of whether it is sold as ‘racial justice,’ ‘anti-racism,’ or ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion,’ any ideological framework that seeks to divide individuals by race, treat them differently based upon the color of their skin, and reject foundational American principles like ‘equality before the law’ is simply corrosive to a healthy republic and its institutions,” a spokesperson for the Goldwater Institute told Campus Reform

DEI statements ask applicants to describe their commitment to DEI or document their previous DEI efforts in teaching, service, and research. Applicants’ commitment to DEI can be part of their teaching statements or standalone statements. The DEI requirement, as Goldwater reported, is increasingly replacing the traditional cover letter. 

Goldwater found that DEI statements are required for 28 percent of job postings at UArizona, 73 percent at NAU, and 81 percent at ASU. 

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While applicants might have different definitions of “diversity,” some applications make it clear that the hiring committee is looking for “intersectionality.” This approach to diversity considers how factors such as race, class, and gender can intersect and interact to worsen inequities, according to Kimberlé Crenshaw, the Columbia and University of California, Los Angeles law professor who coined the term. 

An example from Goldwater’s report shows that NAU advises applicants to describe “the role played by intersectional personal identities in developing concrete [DEI] actions and impacts.”

The NAU application says that it “seek[s] to hire individuals with a strong track record” of DEI and tells candidates to “be as specific and concrete as possible in any examples.” 

Goldwater argues that these requirements are illegal because they force candidates to pass “political litmus tests,” which violate the Arizona Constitution’s prohibition of such tests. The report also cited research by John Sailer with the National Association of Scholars (NAS), who noted that “the most commonly available rubrics for assessing diversity statements demonstrate a clear ideological gloss.” 

[RELATED: ‘Anti-racism, anti-oppression work, equity, and social justice’ commitment required for ‘Latinx’ cluster hire]

One DEI rubric used by the University of California, Berkeley caused academic departments “to weed out applicants,” according to Reason. Berkeley’s rubric, as Campus Reform has reported, is cited by the Association of American Universities (AAU) as a best practice for faculty hiring.     

policy template developed by Goldwater and the Manhattan Institute could prevent universities from judging applicants based on political ideology. 

The report suggests that states can ban DEI requirements “in any admissions, hiring, or promotion-related decision” by prohibiting universities from “compelling or soliciting an applicant, teacher, employee, or pupil to discuss their allegiance to any political ideology or movement—including any ideology that promotes differential treatment on the basis of race or ethnicity.” 

Campus Reform contacted Crenshaw, the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, and Arizona State University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.