Leaders of the University of North Carolina System recently approved a new policy that forbids the use of mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion statements in both hiring and promotion as well as student admissions.
The policy, approved by the Board of Governors on Feb. 23, states that universities in the system “shall neither solicit nor require an employee or applicant for academic admission or employment to affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement.”
“Nor shall any employee or applicant be solicited or required to describe his or her actions in support of, or in opposition to, such beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles.”
The Charlotte Observer reported that North Carolina State University had included a DEI question on its undergraduate application:
“NC State University is committed to building a just and inclusive community, one that does not tolerate unjust or inhumane treatment, and that denounces it, clearly and loudly. Please describe what those words mean to you and how you will contribute to a more diverse and inclusive NC State environment.”
A spokesman for the university told the newspaper the question “will not be required in the future. It became a requirement for the 2021 admissions cycle.”
Kenny Xu, a higher education activist known for challenging affirmative action policies, stated on Twitter that UNC’s new policy will also immediately revoke UNC Medical Schools’ Guidelines for Appointment, Tenure, and Promotion, “which specifically states a DEI statement is required to be considered a medical faculty candidate.”
The new policy was first proposed by the UNC Board of Governors’ Committee on University Governance, North State Journal reported.
“We cannot condition employment or enrollment on adherence to any set of beliefs, no matter how well intended,” UNC System President Peter Hans reportedly said during a January committee meeting. “There’s a long list of good and worthy ideas we could require people to hold. That’s not the role of the university.”
Hans continued: “If we require students and employees to conform to a prescribed set of beliefs, that simply isn’t true to our tradition of free minds, free speech, free thought. Legally, intellectually, morally — it’s our responsibility to protect students, faculty and staff from compelled speech.”
The Journal added that “nothing in the proposed policy revision prohibits a student or prospective employee to “voluntarily opine” on a given topic or a belief they may hold.”
The new policy comes on the heels of another recent decision by the UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees to support of the creation of a School of Civic Life and Leadership at UNC Chapel Hill.
“The curriculum would be anchored in the study of core texts with particular attention to the foundations of the American experiment and all that comes with it,” board Chair David Boliek said. “…The school would create the space for free speech [and] a culture of civil and open inquiry.”
Editor’s note: The article was amended to clarify the UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees voted to support the School of Civic Life and Leadership at UNC Chapel Hill.