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Arizona’s public universities will no longer request “diversity statements” on their job applications in what free speech advocates called a “huge” win.
A large portion of faculty job postings at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University required applicants to provide diversity statements as a condition of hiring, the conservative Goldwater Institute found earlier this year.
At the University of Arizona, 28% of job postings had a mandatory diversity statement as of fall 2022. At Northern Arizona University, 73% of job postings required one, and Arizona State University had the highest portion with 81% of job postings requiring a diversity statement, according to the Institute’s report.
The Arizona university system at times required job applicants to replace their traditional cover letter with a diversity statement, submit two full pages on the candidate’s activism or commitment to diversity, and sometimes even called on applicants to endorse progressive concepts like “intersectional personal identities,” the report found.
Now, however, the public universities have scrapped their DEI statement requirements on those job postings.
The Arizona Board of Regents, which governs the public university system, said the board and state schools have never required DEI statements, but “some departments at the universities may have included a request for a DEI statement in a job application.”
However, “the universities have discontinued any requests for such statements in job applications,” the Board of Regents said.
“Some posted job applications that include a request for a DEI statement may still be found online and the universities are updating those job postings to remove the request for DEI statements,” the board added.
The Goldwater Institute argued that requiring diversity statements was unconstitutional under both the First Amendment and Arizona’s state Constitution.
Arizona’s Constitution states that “no religious or political test or qualification shall ever be required as a condition of admission into any public educational institution of the state, as teacher, student, or pupil.”
The elimination of diversity statements is a “huge victory for academic freedom and the First Amendment,” said Goldwater Institute president and CEO Victor Riches.
“DEI programs and ‘statements’ do not produce free expression nor more diversity of thought, equal opportunities, and a culture that includes everyone in school activities because DEI’s guiding principles are rooted in the racially discriminatory worldview known as critical race theory,” Goldwater Institute senior fellow Jonathan Butcher added.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) content in university classes as well as K-12 public schools has become a hot-button issue in recent years.
Several other states have also scrapped DEI statements for public university jobs.
In April, Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) signed a bill banning diversity statements as well as DEI offices across the state’s higher education institutions.
In May, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed legislation banning diversity statements as well as state and federal funding for DEI programs at state universities.