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MIT Scraps DEI Pledge Requirement for Faculty Applicants

MIT Scraps DEI Pledge Requirement for Faculty Applicants

May 6, 2024

MIT Scraps DEI Pledge Requirement for Faculty Applicants

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has decided to scrap the requirement for applicants to submit DEI statements for faculty positions. This change makes MIT the first elite university to eliminate this mandate, which has become an increasingly standard part of the academic hiring process.

A study conducted in 2021 by the American Enterprise Institute, which examined 999 university faculty job postings, found that 19 percent required such diversity statements. The study also noted a higher prevalence of DEI statement requirements at elite institutions, with these schools being 21 percent more likely to request them than non-elite schools.

An example of this practice was seen in a December 2023 job posting from MIT's aeronautics and astronautics department. The posting instructed candidates to provide "a statement regarding their views on diversity, inclusion, and belonging, including past and current contributions as well as their vision and plans for the future in these areas."

This move by MIT is significant, given the university's history with DEI. In 2021, MIT's Earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences department withdrew an invitation to the University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot, a geophysicist. Abbot was scheduled to speak on the climate of exoplanets but faced opposition from graduate students due to his public skepticism of the DEI movement within academia. Through an op-ed, Abbot had previously expressed concerns that an overemphasis on race in hiring practices could detract from the merit-based principles that he believed were fundamental to academic excellence.

The cancellation of Abbot's lecture led to controversy and criticism of MIT, with claims that the institution had yielded to activist pressures. This incident was highlighted by a group called the Alliance on its website. It also pointed out the lack of public acknowledgment or apology from MIT's administration or faculty regarding the cancellation of Abbot's lecture. The Alliance cautioned that such actions could recur without accountability and potentially tarnish MIT's reputation.

MIT has not publicly addressed the reasons behind the decision to eliminate the DEI statement requirement from its application process. The potential future implications of this decision could influence other institutions' policies on DEI statements and contribute to the ongoing debate about the role of diversity initiatives in academic hiring practices.


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