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UMass Boston removes DEI requirements from job listings

‘I think the university realized we were going to do everything we could to secure the First Amendment rights for its faculty’

The University of Massachusetts Boston will no longer require aspiring faculty members to submit “diversity, equity, and inclusion” statements following advocacy from a national free speech group.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression told The College Fix it plans to monitor the job postings to ensure UMass Boston follows through on its promise.

“I plan on watching UMass Boston’s website to ensure open faculty positions don’t again start requiring DEI commitments,” Program Officer Haley Gluhanich told The Fix via email. “FIRE will continue to have its eyes on this situation.”

She said the group’s “persistence” ultimately helped sway the public university.

“I think our persistence had a large part in swaying the university, especially considering we wrote it three times on this situation – we kept pushing back,” Gluhanich said. “I think the university realized we were going to do everything we could to secure the First Amendment rights for its faculty.”

The group began writing to the university in June, according to a news release. One example included a computer science professor opening that required a “diversity statement that reflects experience and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The initial letter stated, in part:

The DEI requirements for faculty applicants encroach on faculty’s First Amendment right not to adopt prescribed views. Their subjective criteria could easily also be abused to penalize applicants with minority, dissenting, or even simply nuanced views on DEI-related issues that may not dovetail perfectly with the university’s goals. Such an outcome would lead toward the university becoming an echo chamber for its preferred views.

The Fix asked DeWayne Lehman, UMass Boston’s director of communications, what prompted the DEI requirements to be removed from faculty listings, why they were there in the first place, and for general comment.

“UMass Boston is fully committed to following the best practices guiding recruiting and hiring of faculty,” Lehman told The Fix via email.

He also said:

We are informed of and by changes in regulations and law, and we will continue to comply with all applicable employment laws pertaining to the hiring of our faculty and will continue to support our faculty’s Constitutional rights while we embrace our diverse community at UMass Boston.

DEI commitments are not rare, FIRE says

Gluhanich, the program officer for FIRE, said DEI statements are a common tool used by universities.

The free speech group “has definitely seen an increase in higher education institutions requiring some sort of commitment to DEI.”

However, Gluhanich said the group is “hopeful that these institutions will see FIRE’s advocacy and remove any requirement that could threaten a prospective faculty member’s freedom of conscience.”

The Fix has reported on other DEI statements required for faculty hiring, including at University of California Berkeley and at the University of Colorado Boulder.

It is not just potential professors who must sometimes submit DEI statements.

At least one university required potential janitors to write a “Diversity Response,” as previously reported by The Fix.

Eastern Washington University asked custodian applicants to explain “how your qualifications prepare you to work with diverse faculty, staff, and student populations representing various cultures and backgrounds that may be different from your own.”

MORE: Ohio State University prioritized DEI in hiring

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About the Author
College Fix contributor MJ Cadman is a graduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she is studying theology.