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Idaho bans DEI job statements in higher ed, think tank says DEI offices should go next

‘Idaho’s public universities waste millions of dollars annually on campus DEI bureaucracies employing at least 57 administrators,’ policy expert says

The Idaho State Board of Education recently banned universities from requesting or requiring diversity statements from job applicants at Idaho’s four-year public institutions, and one liberty-minded think tank scholar suggests it’s time to go a step further.

Anna Miller, policy director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Center for American Education, said in an interview this month that the board’s unanimous decision, made in April, was a positive step toward ridding the state’s universities of biased ideologies.

But it’s not enough, she said.

“It’s another sign that the fight against woke ideology in higher education is escalating, and policymakers should keep their foot on the gas pedal,” Miller told The College Fix via email.

Miller said policymakers must now recognize that DEI offices associated with diversity statements are also harmful.

“Idaho’s public universities waste millions of dollars annually on campus DEI bureaucracies employing at least 57 administrators,” she said.

She urged the board to abolish DEI offices altogether, saying, “If left unchecked, DEI bureaucracies will swallow universities whole.”

The Center for American Education “works with state legislators, policymakers, and parents to promote transformational change to our state and national education system so that it best serves the families and students who utilize it,” its website states.

The University of Idaho currently maintains an Office of Equity and Diversity. Boise State University also maintains a DEI division.

Miller’s comments come after both Florida and Texas passed sweeping legislation defunding and barring DEI offices in various ways.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in June signed into law legislation that eliminates diversity, equity and inclusion offices at the state’s public colleges and universities.

In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that outlaws spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public colleges and universities, saying the “whole experiment of DEI is coming to an end in the state of Florida.”

When the resolution in Idaho banning DEI statements from job applicants was approved in April, State Board President Kurt Liebich said at the time that “hiring decisions should be made based on merit and the qualifications of the candidates who apply for positions at our institutions.”

He argued written statements take the focus off the qualifications of individual candidates.

“We want to hire highly qualified people invested in the success of every student at our institutions,” Liebich stated.

On April 25, the board unanimously approved the resolution, which was effective immediately.

According to Boise State Public Radio, only one question came from the state’s top education policy group.

When Liebich was asked if the policy would apply to job interviews, he responded by saying: “For those types of roles where your role is improving the diversity of our student body, I think it would be in those cases appropriate to ask about what experience you have in diversity.”

In a statement provided to The College Fix, University of Idaho spokesperson Jodi Walker said that the institution “did not, prior to this action, typically require diversity statements as part of the hiring process.”

Campus leaders instead focused on “attracting highly qualified candidates from many backgrounds and ideologies to create a robust learning environment to prepare the workforce industries want,” Walker said.

A 2021 survey of 1,491 faculty at four-year colleges and universities from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression found that “faculty are split evenly on whether diversity, equity, and inclusion statements are a justifiable requirement for a university job.”

“Three-in-four liberal faculty support mandatory diversity statements while 90% of conservative faculty and 56% of moderate faculty see them as political litmus tests,” the foundation reported.

MORE: I’ve been punished for engaging in civil debate at the University of Idaho

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About the Author
Rena Mainetti -- Grove City College