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The use of diversity, equity and inclusion statements in hiring at the University of Missouri System won't be allowed, system President Mun Choi said in an email to faculty and staff.
The decision comes as bills prohibiting DEI statements advance in the Missouri Legislature, but a spokesman didn't acknowledge any role of political pressure in the decision.
Choi in the email said the statements can be confused for loyalty oaths or litmus tests. He cited unspecified media reports.
"Recently, there have been media reports that question the use of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) statements for hiring purposes at the University of Missouri System and other institutions of higher learning," Choi wrote. "In these reports, there is sometimes debate whether such statements serve as loyalty oaths or as litmus tests. We do not use loyalty oaths or litmus tests but a few of our job advertisements contained information that may give some readers the impression that such a request was inferred."
A values commitment will be allowed, but not required. It reads:
“We value the uniqueness of every individual and strive to ensure each person’s success. Contributions from individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives promote intellectual pluralism and enable us to achieve the excellence that we seek in learning, research and engagement. This commitment makes our university a better place to work, learn and innovate.
In your application materials, please discuss your experiences and expertise that support these values and enrich our missions of teaching, research and engagement.”
A diversity faculty hiring rubric developed in 2018 also is being abandoned, the email states.
There had been inconsistency among diversity statements across the system, said spokesman Uriah Orland in an email.
"This will solve that issue and provide a clear idea of the university’s stance on diversity for any job applicants," Orland wrote. "The University of Missouri remains dedicated to creating an environment free from discrimination, where all faculty, staff and students receive the support needed to thrive and make a difference for Missourians and across the United States."
Black students at the University of Missouri conducted large protests on campus in 2015. In 2021, a restructuring of the campus social justice centers drew protests.
A 2019 faculty satisfaction survey cited a lack of diversity among faculty members as a concern. In a 2022 faculty survey, underrepresented minority faculty members reported at a higher rate than all faculty that they had actively sought outside job offers. A higher percentage of faculty of color and underrepresented minority faculty indicated they had received a formal job offer.
The survey recommendations included improving recruitment, hiring, promotion and retention of diverse faculty and removing barriers to their advancement.
Two bills in the Missouri Legislature banning diversity hiring requirements received committee approval this week. One, filed by Excelsior Springs Republican Rep. Doug Richey, would ban public higher education institutions from requiring diversity statements. A bill filed by Neosho Republican Rep. Ben Baker would prohibit licensing boards, medical providers and medical schools from having DEI requirements.
There have been some diversity, equity and inclusion statements included on job postings in the past, but they didn't have consistent language, Orland wrote.
"This new statement will provide consistency in language and will be used if the hiring authority wants to include it. It will not be a mandatory statement," Orland wrote.
Roger McKinney is the Tribune's education reporter. You can reach him at email@example.com or 573-815-1719. He's on Twitter at @rmckinney9.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Diversity statements no longer allowed in hiring for UM System jobs