Higher Education

Harvard To Stop Requiring DEI Statements for Many Faculty Positions

Harvard is taking steps away from politicization. Will other schools follow?


On Monday, Harvard officials announced that the university would no longer require diversity, inclusion, and belonging statements as part of its hiring process for open positions in the faculty of arts and sciences.

According to The Harvard Crimson, Harvard's previous policy required candidates to submit a statement detailing their "efforts to encourage diversity, inclusion, and belonging, including past, current, and anticipated future contributions in these areas." 

Under the new rules, finalists for a position will be required to submit two statements, one about their "efforts to strengthen academic communities" and another about how they would foster a "learning environment in which students are encouraged to ask questions and share their ideas."

The change comes in the wake of rising opposition to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statements in university faculty hiring. Critics frequently argue the statements, wherein a candidate usually lays out their personal and research commitments to increasing diversity, are essentially ideological litmus tests.

DEI statements often "[compel] faculty to affirm contested views or incorporate them into teaching, research, and service activities," reads a release from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a First Amendment nonprofit. "With scholars increasingly facing administrative consequences for voicing minority or simply unpopular opinions, the last thing universities need is another tool for enforcing ideological conformity."

The shift away from DEI statements at Harvard comes just one week after the university announced that it would take a formal stance of institutional neutrality and stop releasing statements about political controversies not directly concerning Harvard. Additionally, administrators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced in May that the school would also retire DEI statements.

These changes signal that a shift may be coming to higher education. As universities have faced raucous student protests over the Israel-Hamas war—and university presidents have come under fire for their reactions to the protests—it seems like more of those in academia are starting to realize that the push toward politicization was a mistake.

For better or worse, schools like Harvard and MIT set the tone for other institutions of higher education. Where elite colleges go, it's likely that other universities will follow.