- Georgia’s public colleges can no longer require diversity, equity and inclusion statements in their hiring or training processes, continuing a conservative-led, nationwide push against the practice.
- In an HR policy change in July, the University System of Georgia barred its 26 colleges from requiring applicants and employees to fill out “affirmations, ideological tests, and oaths,” which include diversity statements.
- Instead, hiring officials can ask questions about an applicant’s experience supporting different student populations. The system said such questions can include “Tell us about a training program that you have developed or enhanced” and “How do you make the decision to delegate work?”
DEI statements, which explain a job candidate’s experiences with and commitment to diverse student populations, are relatively common in higher education. But they have increasingly been targeted by conservative policymakers and free speech advocates.
These detractors claim diversity statements mandate certain ways of thinking and infringe on free expression.
Meanwhile, supporters say such statements can help diversify majority-White faculty pools, which in turn benefits a wider range of students, including those of color.
The 26-institution system enrolls a diverse mix of students, with a majority-White flagship, the University of Georgia, and three historically Black universities.
But the diversity of the system’s student body is not mirrored in its professors. In fall 2022, 44.8% of its students were White, compared to 66.8% of its instructional faculty, according to system data.
The University System of Georgia did not immediately respond to comment Wednesday.
Other public higher ed systems have moved against diversity statements.
In May, the Idaho State Board of Education banned its four-year public colleges from using diversity statements when hiring. The University of North Carolina’s board of governors also banned DEI statements in hiring this year.
A former University of Toronto professor also sued the University of California system in May over its use of diversity statements. The professor called them “loyalty oaths” similar to how University System of Georgia officials described them.
Faculty are evenly divided over the use of DEI statements, according to a 2022 survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a civil liberties watchdog. FIRE itself has spoken out several times against mandatory DEI statements.