- Cornell invites applicants to submit a statement that outlines their commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), how they have incorporated DEI into their previous work and how they will apply it to their work at Cornell, according to the university’s website.
- The Cornell Free Speech Alumni is preparing to oppose the use of the statements by educating other alumni, an email obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation shows.
- “The concern with DEI statement is that they send a message that adopting a group identity ideology is mandatory, as DEI focuses on group identities,” William Jacobson, director of the securities law clinic at Cornell, told the DCNF.
Cornell University alumni are preparing to launch a campaign against the use of diversity statements in faculty hiring, an email obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation revealed.
The Cornell Free Speech Alliance (CFSA) is putting together a series of short, educational videos to inform fellow alumni about how diversity statements are used to hire faculty at the elite New York school, the email—sent to CFSA and Alumni Free Speech Alliance members by Carl Neus, a Cornell alum—reads. The series will be sent to “Cornell alumni members and followers to inform our many thousands of followers, supporters, and members regarding the atrocities now occurring at US universities.” (RELATED: DeSantis-Backed College Trustees Ax Diversity Office)
The course will allegedly include a 30-minute video featuring Daniel Ortner, former Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) attorney, titled “How DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) Can Lead To Tyranny.” The video was published July 2022 by California Insider.
“Alumni should be aware that there is significant evidence already that DEI statements are having an effect of favoring prospective employees with certain viewpoints and excluding others and that this problem is growing,” Ortner, who is now a Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) attorney, told the DCNF.
He clarified that FIRE “takes no position on whether DEI efforts in general are good or bad, and would defend a faculty member’s right to teach, support, or criticize DEI and DEI-related issues.” FIRE is not related in the alumni’s efforts.
Cornell invites applicants to submit a statement that outlines their commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), how they have incorporated DEI into their previous work and how they will apply it to their work at Cornell, according to its Office of Faculty Development and Diversity. The statements are “reviewed in the same way other aspects of a candidate’s application is evaluated.”
“If the university did not think DEI statements were an important part of the hiring and promotion process, the university would not place such a heavy emphasis on such statements,” William Jacobson, director of the securities law clinic at Cornell, told the DCNF.
Cornell’s strictness on the importance of diversity statements wavered in 2022, archived versions of the website reveal. The university required applicants to submit diversity statements in the early months of 2022, but apparently changed the requirement in December to ask that they be submitted.
“The concern with DEI statements is that they send a message that adopting a group identity ideology is mandatory, as DEI focuses on group identities,” Jacobson said. “While the statement guidelines do not dictate precisely what an applicant must say, it is clear that adopting a DEI group identity viewpoint is expected. This serves as a means of filtering out applicants who adhere to the viewpoint that individual, and not group, rights are what matter. It also serves to provide a mechanism for weeding out those who have different political and ideological viewpoints than the prevailing Cornell liberal/leftist monoculture.”
This week we are spotlighting the Cornell Free Speech Alliance – @CUFreeSpeech – an excellent non-partisan alumni-run org focused on advancing free expression, viewpoint diversity, and academic freedom on Cornell’s campus. Check them out: https://t.co/6B82rH3zVU
— Academic Freedom Alliance (@AFA_Alliance) February 21, 2023
The university is rejecting qualified applicants because of “weak” diversity statements, Neus’ email reads.
“This is an appalling reality which is being practiced at Cornell University today,” the email reads. “CornellFSA is working to eliminate such egregiously unfair ‘political litmus tests’ from being imposed on faculty and faculty candidates at Cornell.”
FIRE recently published a survey which revealed that half of university faculty nation-wide oppose using diversity statements to consider potential hires and believe they violate academic freedom. Conservative and moderate faculty were more likely than their liberal colleagues to classify the statements as litmus tests.
“The issue arises where faculty members must pledge allegiance to an administrator’s view on DEI. When that happens, it raises serious academic freedom concerns. Schools like Cornell that promise free expression cannot condition employment, promotion or tenure on adherence to any particular ideology,” Ortner said. “When universities show that they are imposing ideology through the use of DEI statements, FIRE has written letters warning those universities to eliminate these ideological litmus tests like we did with Cornell a few years ago.”
Lawmakers turned their focus to the incorporation of diversity statements early in the 2023 session and state lawmakers including Utah, Florida and West Virginia have filed bills to outlaw the practice. Numerous Texas universities recently ordered departments to stop considering diversity statements during the hiring process.
“Diversity statements in university hiring are modern-day equivalents of loyalty oaths,” Wilson Freeman, PLF attorney, told the DCNF. “Applicants who refuse to pledge allegiance to concepts like affirmative action and critical theory are effectively taken out of the running, regardless of their qualifications. This creates ideological conformity and undermines the progress of science.”
CFSA, the Alumni Free Speech Alliance, Neus and Cornell did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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