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Harvard Rolls Back DEI

The university’s largest school will no longer require “diversity, inclusion, and belonging” statements when hiring.

Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS)—the largest school within the university, comprising half of all Harvard students—will no longer require “diversity, inclusion, and belonging” statements for faculty hiring. The news, first reported by The Boston Globe, is the latest indicator that elite universities are moving away from the ideological litmus tests that have come to dominate campus. 

This follows the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s decision to end the controversial policy entirely, which I first reported on last month. It also comes after Harvard reinstated standardized testing in admissions in April. 

“In external searches for faculty appointments, we have changed our process to request a broad statement of service instead of requiring a Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) statement,” Nina Zipser, FAS Dean for Faculty Affairs and Planning, said in an email to faculty on Monday seen by The Free Press

These revisions mark an incremental but real move away from a policy that represents the worst excesses of the DEI bureaucracy. In a statement, a Harvard spokesperson told me that the update means that the school will request “broader and more robust service statements as part of the hiring process.” These statements can include, but are not limited to, “efforts to increase diversity, inclusion, and belonging.”

At the time of MIT’s decision, several prominent Harvard faculty members praised the move. Harvard’s former president Larry Summers described diversity statements as “morally bankrupt” and “an affront to almost every academic freedom value,” and called on the college to follow MIT’s lead. 

Now, prominent faculty members are calling on the entire university to follow FAS’s lead. “It’s a cause for celebration that FAS has replaced the requirement for DEI statements with a requirement for ‘service statements,’ i.e., how candidates will contribute to their department, their university, and their professional community,” ​​Jeffrey Flier, the former dean of Harvard Medical School, told me in an email. “The next step should be for this to be extended across all schools of the university.”

Members of the Council on Academic Freedom at Harvard—led in part by Flier, and Steven Pinker—have now proposed a resolution urging the university as a whole to stop using diversity statements. These overdue changes have arrived because professors simply do not like the idea of being tested for their commitment to a cause unrelated to their academic work. The FAS’s decision gives them all the more permission to say that out loud. Expect others to follow Harvard’s lead.

John Sailer is a senior fellow at the National Association of Scholars. Follow him on X @JohnDSailer and read his piece on “The DEI Rollback.”

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