'They don't work' | MIT becomes first university to ditch controversial 'diversity statement' in hiring plans

MIT becomes first university to ditch controversial 'diversity statement' in hiring plans

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, commonly known as MIT, this week announced that it will no longer require prospective hires to pledge allegiance to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion as a condition of employment.

This move by MIT marks the first instance among elite universities in the U.S. to abandon what critics denounce as a "political litmus test”, yet others may perceive as the basis of professionalism.

The decision, made by MIT President, Sally Kornbluth, was reportedly met with support of the provost, chancellor, and all six academic deans.

A university spokesperson confirmed that requests for a statement on diversity will no longer be part of applications for any faculty positions at MIT.

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"My goals are to tap into the full scope of human talent, to bring the very best to MIT, and to make sure they thrive once here," stated Kornbluth.

"We can build an inclusive environment in many ways, but compelled statements impinge on freedom of expression, and they don’t work."

The practice of requiring diversity statements has become commonplace in higher education in recent years, with top universities in the US mandating applicants to expound on their commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These statements, often two to three pages long, have been criticized by advocates of academic freedom and free speech as ‘coercive’.

The divisive decision comes amidst a broader debate within academia about the efficacy and ethics of diversity statements.

A 2020 report from Reason revealed that 76% of applicants for professorships across eight life science programs at the University of California, Berkeley, were in-fact disqualified on the basis of their diversity statements alone.

In addition, the same research drew from a study of the practice at the University of California, Davis, which suggested that this was true for more than half of applicants to certain schools at that institution.

While diversity, equity, and inclusion remain important goals for institutions of higher learning, it seems that many states have also moved to end the practice, with legislatures in Florida, Texas, Utah, and Idaho officially banning is among their universities.

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