The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Free Speech

Washington Post Criticizes Diversity Statements in Higher Education


An excerpt from yesterday's editorial:

[J]obseekers who disagree with the ideological premises of such inquiries have an overwhelming incentive to suppress their true beliefs, or pretend to have the "right" ones, lest they be eliminated from consideration. It's a dilemma, especially given the high stakes: As the University of California at Davis's vice chancellor for DEI explained, "In these searches, it is the candidate's diversity statement that is considered first; only those who submit persuasive and inspiring statements can advance for complete consideration." In one faculty search at University of California at Berkeley, around 75 percent of applicants were screened out of consideration — irrespective of criteria such as teaching ability and research skills. Small wonder that many applicants engage in what Daniel Sargent, a history professor at UC Berkeley, calls "performative dishonesty."

The last thing academia  or the country  needs is another incentive for people to be insincere or dishonest. The very purpose of the university is to encourage a free exchange of ideas, seek the truth wherever it may lead, and to elevate intellectual curiosity and openness among both faculty and students. Whatever their original intent, the use of DEI statements has too often resulted in self-censorship and ideological policing….