The Academic Freedom Alliance urges institutions of higher education to desist from demanding
“diversity statements” as conditions of employment or promotion. The rapid and widespread
dissemination of such statements has proceeded with far too little attentiveness to obvious threats
to academic freedom. At the very least, institutions should pause any continued solicitation of
diversity statements until there has been a thorough airing of their putative benefits, how they are
assessed and used, what safeguards can protect against misuse, and what might constitute less
The practice that prompts our concern is requiring that members or prospective members of
faculties submit statements in which they are forced to detail ways in which they have advanced
or plan to advance “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI). A school of engineering requires that
all applications for faculty positions include “a statement of your experience with or knowledge
of inclusion, diversity, equity, and belonging efforts and your plans for incorporating them into
your teaching, research, mentoring, and service.” A school of medicine has proposed that faculty
members “be required to show effort toward advancing DEI in at least one mission area for
which they are evaluated by including a short narrative DEI summary in their personal statement
and by listing DEI-related activities on their CVs.” A history department directs applicants to
submit a diversity statement that ‘highlights an understanding of the role of diversity, equity,
inclusion, and justice in a university setting. Please include examples from past experiences and
reference plans to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in your teaching, research, and
Requirements for diversity statements have spread quickly and will continue to do so absent a
determined effort to persuade academia to reconsider a practice with conspicuously disturbing
Academics seeking employment or promotion will almost inescapably feel pressured to say
things that accommodate the perceived ideological preferences of an institution demanding a
diversity statement, notwithstanding the actual beliefs or commitments of those forced to speak.
This scenario is inimical to fundamental values that should govern academic life. The demand
for diversity statements enlists academics into a political movement, erasing the distinction
between academic expertise and ideological conformity. It encourages cynicism and dishonesty.
An industry of diversity statement “counselling” has already emerged--and could easily have
been predicted. There are prevalent and reasonable suspicions that beneath the stated rationales
for diversity statements lurk unstated motives that include providing a way to screen out
candidates who express ambivalence about DEI programming.
The growing regime of DEI testing through forced pledges of conformity threatens to impose a
suffocating orthodoxy, penalizing expressions of DEI skepticism though such skepticism exists across a wide ideological range that includes not only right-leaning scholars but left-leaning
scholars as well. Fortunately, there are signs that increasing numbers of academics are becoming
aware of the need to respond with candor and determination to procedures that might seem to be
innocuous but that are detrimental to core values of higher education.
The Academic Freedom Alliance supports efforts to ensure that colleges and universities offer to
all members of their communities – staff, students, and faculty – environments free of bigotry.
We also support efforts by institutions of higher learning to do all that they can, consistent with
their academic mission, to ensure that faculty members offer their services on an equitable basis.
It is, however, our firm conviction that compelled diversity statements undermine the best of the
intentions that propel DEI initiatives. It is one thing for schools to take action against wrongful
discriminatory conduct; institutions are under a legal as well as moral and pedagogical obligation
to do that. A very different and disturbing thing is monitoring beliefs by demanding pledges of
allegiance to an array of policies that are often vague, frequently ambiguous, and invariably