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MIT bans mandatory DEI statements in faculty hiring

Leaders of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have told faculty to discontinue the practice of requiring mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion statements in faculty hiring.

“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,'” John Sailer reported for Unherd.

“…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.'”

He described it as a “watershed moment” because MIT is “the first elite private university to backtrack on the practice that has been roundly criticised as a political litmus test.”

Top brass at MIT had reportedly tried to keep the new policy — which has not been put into writing — on the down low, and was first reported by the MIT satire site the Babbling Beaver before Sailer confirmed it.

“Quietly, in the dead of night, with neither announcement nor fanfare, MIT President Spineless Sally Kornbluth did the right thing. She banned the use of DEI statements for faculty hiring and promotions, across all schools and departments at MIT,” reported the Beaver, which is mostly satire but since it’s run by MIT insiders also has access to legitimate campus information.

“A private anonymous faculty poll revealed that about two-thirds of MIT’s professors hate the damned things. Merit lives, despite the fact that supporters have been largely hiding under their desks afraid to fight back. … Reaction has been muted, most likely because DEI true believers have been too busy carrying water for Hamas. … And so, the pendulum swings. May it keep on swinging until sanity is restored.”

Sailer, in his report for Unherd, called the development “momentous.”

“The pushback against diversity statements has succeeded almost exclusively at public universities in red states, encouraged or enacted by lawmakers. Conservative states such as Florida, Texas, and Utah have passed laws banning diversity statements at state universities. Some appointed state university leaders, such as the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, have also barred the practice. The decision at MIT is different — reform from within, prompted by a university president alongside deans and provosts, at a private institution,” Sailer noted.

A 2023 survey conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression found that “large portions of MIT faculty and students are afraid to express their views in various academic settings.”

In 2021, MIT was engulfed in controversy for canceling a guest lecture to be given by University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot. In the wake of that decision, some alumni yanked donations. Following that, MIT faculty adopted a resolution that defends freedom of speech and expression — even speech some find “offensive or injurious.”

MORE: MIT cancels speaker over politics, so alumnus cancels donation in name of free speech

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.