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Iowa State requires applicants agree to ‘diversity and inclusion’ pledge

‘It’s the responsibility of everyone’

Iowa State University has added new language to its job applications that requires prospective employees to pledge they will “demonstrate their contribution to diversity and inclusion” once hired.

Calling itself a “global and culturally diverse university committed to providing an inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment for both learning and employment,” the new language stipulates that the “university has an expectation that all employees will demonstrate a contribution to diversity and inclusion as embodied in Iowa State University’s Principles of Community.”

Those principals state in part that the public university affirms “the right to and the importance of a free exchange of ideas at Iowa State University within the bounds of courtesy, sensitivity and respect.”

The principals, however, are vague in their wording and do not spell out how administrators define what a free exchange of ideas looks like within the bounds of “courtesy, sensitivity and respect.”

The university has already been sanctioned in the recent past for not respecting people’s First Amendment rights. Iowa State University was found guilty of knowingly violating students’ First Amendment rights.

The new application language at Iowa State mirrors similar so-called diversity pledges added at colleges such as the University of Cincinnati.

In an email to The College Fix, Iowa State spokeswoman Annette Hacker said “the purpose of the language is to ensure applicants have an understanding of the university’s ongoing commitment to diversity in experience and perspective. Applicants may choose to share what they believe to be applicable.”

In discussing the new language recently before the student government at Iowa State, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Reginald Stewart told the campus leaders it’s part of a way to be upfront with potential employees about the university’s priorities.

“We knew it would be time for us to articulate [a] message of diversity and inclusion for every new employee,” Stewart said, according to the Iowa State Daily.

“The important work of having the really complex and difficult conversations that we’ve been having is that it’s the responsibility of everyone, not just the people over in that office that have diversity and inclusion in their title,” said Stewart during the student senate meeting live streamed on Facebook.

MORE: UMissouri implements mandatory ‘diversity and inclusion training’

MORE: To get tenure at VA Tech you must show proof of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’

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About the Author
Will Nardi -- UMass Boston