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Idaho State Board follows IFF Center for American Education’s recommendation to prohibit diversity statements in higher ed

Idaho State Board follows IFF Center for American Education’s recommendation to prohibit diversity statements in higher ed

Anna Miller
April 26, 2023

The Idaho State Board of Education has followed our recommendation to ban coercive “diversity statements” in higher education. 

The board passed a resolution “prohibiting either requesting or requiring written diversity statements from candidates applying for employment at Idaho’s public four-year universities.”

Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Center for American Education has been exposing the use of diversity statements in higher education for years. We demonstrated that academic positions at Idaho’s flagship universities have increasingly required that candidates prove their commitment to DEI when they apply for jobs and that these requirements are more common in the hard sciences than in the social sciences and humanities. 

Diversity statements require that candidates pledge fealty to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ideological framework, in both word and deed. These statements for job candidates have become a prevailing nationwide trend in higher education. At least one out of every five job candidates across the country is formally evaluated based on their commitment to DEI. Faculty candidates have been traditionally evaluated based on a cover letter, their curriculum vitae, a research statement, and a teaching statement. 

The purpose of diversity statements is to disadvantage or weed out dissidents — any candidate in favor of a free society and against the ideological pursuits of the university. Such requirements compromise academic excellence in higher education by cutting universities off from the entire market

During the 2023 legislative session, Senator Brian Lenney brought more attention to diversity statements in Idaho’s universities when he asked State Board President, Kurt Liebech, about this prevailing problem. Liebech stated that he thought hiring decisions should be made based on merit and the qualifications of the candidates who apply for positions at the universities. 

Upon the passage of this resolution, Sen. Lenney stated, 

"The people of Idaho are done with the insidious infiltration of the woke DEI agenda in our schools and universities. We've tirelessly raised our voices during the past legislative session, fighting tooth and nail against this corrosive ideology. And finally, after relentless pressure, the SBOE has come to their senses and taken a righteous stand against it. Let this be a warning to all those who seek to impose their radical agendas on our society — we will not back down, we will not be silenced, and we will always fight for what is right."

Now that the Board has established that diversity statements are bad for Idaho universities, they need to recognize that the DEI offices associated with these policies are also bad. 

Idaho’s public universities waste millions of dollars annually on campus DEI bureaucracies employing at least 57 administrators. Higher education's advancement of DEI fosters racial and gender-based grievances and compromises academic freedom and the pursuit of truth.

The next step for the Board should be to abolish all DEI offices in higher education. If left unchecked, DEI bureaucracies will swallow universities whole. College campuses will increasingly become hostile environments devaluing individuality, merit, and colorblindness and imposing discrimination, segregation, and identity group rights. 

The Board’s passage of this resolution to prohibit diversity statements in higher education is a positive step toward ridding the state's universities of left-wing racialist ideology. The fight against woke ideology in higher education is escalating, and policymakers should keep their foot on the gas pedal.

Idaho Freedom Foundation
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