The Battle of Cambridge: MIT Pulling Ahead Of Harvard As America’s Bellwether College
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Earlier (2001) You Can’t Make This Stuff Up Dept.: A Loyalty to Diversity Oath!

MIT was the first elite college to restore mandatory test scores in its admission process, and now it’s the first to dump DEI loyalty oaths in faculty hiring.

From UnHerd:

MIT becomes first elite university to ban diversity statements
MAY 5, 2024 – 4:00PM

In what’s likely to be a watershed moment, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has ended the use of diversity statements for faculty hiring, making it the first elite private university to backtrack on the practice that has been roundly criticised as a political litmus test.

On Saturday, an MIT spokesperson confirmed in an email to me that “requests for a statement on diversity will no longer be part of applications for any faculty positions at MIT”, adding that the decision was made by embattled MIT President Sally Kornbluth “with the support of the Provost, Chancellor, and all six academic deans”.

The decision marks an inflection point in the battle over diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in higher education. Since at least the late 2010s, diversity statements have been ubiquitous in faculty hiring, sometimes carrying serious weight in the selection process. As one dean at Emory University put it while describing her approach to hiring, “Diversity statement, then dossier.”

MIT embraced the diversity statement trend. In late 2023, the university’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering sought an assistant professor “in fields from fundamental nuclear science to practical applications of nuclear technology in energy, security and quantum engineering”. Applicants were required to submit “a statement regarding their views on diversity, inclusion, and belonging, including past and current contributions as well as their vision and plans for the future in these areas”.

Such requirements have long been controversial, and the basic argument against them is simple: “diversity, equity, and inclusion” has come to connote a set of controversial views about identity, power, and oppression. Universities which require scholars to “demonstrate” their “commitment” to DEI can easily invite ideological screening, as well as potentially unlawful viewpoint discrimination. Many groups thus oppose the diversity statements on the grounds of academic freedom and free expression.

At MIT, these arguments seemed to have won the day. In a statement provided to me via email, president Kornbluth notes: “We can build an inclusive environment in many ways, but compelled statements impinge on freedom of expression, and they don’t work.”

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