FIRE is concerned by the proliferation of college and university policies requiring faculty applicants or current faculty to demonstrate their commitment to “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” often through a written statement that factors into hiring, reappointment, evaluation, promotion, or tenure decisions. In our newly released Q&A and full Statement on the Use of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Criteria in Faculty Hiring and Evaluation, we explain how DEI statement policies can too easily function as ideological litmus tests that threaten employment or advancement opportunities for faculty who dissent from prevailing thought on DEI.
Over the past few years, FIRE has heard from countless faculty members concerned that their university’s DEI statement policy violates the First Amendment, academic freedom principles, or both. Numerous complaints have prompted FIRE’s intervention.
Our statement provides guidance to universities to ensure they respect faculty members’ expressive freedom when seeking to advance DEI.
FIRE recognizes that universities generally may pursue DEI-related initiatives, but at institutions bound by the First Amendment or their own promises of expressive freedom, those efforts must not threaten free speech or academic freedom. Our statement explains that the ideals of free speech and of diversity and inclusivity are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, the latter depends on the former: “When universities uphold expressive freedom, they allow a diversity of voices and perspectives to flourish and create space for dialogue across lines of identity and ideology.”