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Assistant Professor Sues University That Allegedly Forces Faculty To Pledge Commitment To Diversity

An assistant professor is suing a California university that allegedly requires faculty applicants to pledge their commitment to “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) policies and ideology.

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of Dr. John D. Haltigan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, against the University of California (UC), Santa Cruz alleging that institution violates faculty applicants’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to submit a statement displaying their support of DEI. Requiring a statement on increasing diversity along racial and ethnic lines forces faculty applicants to agree, or pretend to agree, with such values, the lawsuit alleges. 

“UC Santa Cruz’ DEI statement requirement is nothing more than a rebranding of the unconstitutional loyalty oaths that proliferated during the Cold War,” Wilson Freeman, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, said in a press release. “Universities are not permitted to discriminate against applicants because of their political views. UC’s DEI statement screening is a thinly veiled attempt to do exactly that.”

Haltigan, who holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Miami, wished to apply for the institution’s tenure-track position in Developmental Psychology but did not because of the required DEI statement, the lawsuit shows. The application for the tenure-track position in Developmental Psychology allegedly tells applicants that its scoring rubric grants low scores to those applying if they “believe race and sex should not be used to judge individuals.”

“If Dr. Haltigan were to apply for this position, he would be compelled to alter his behavior and either remain silent about the many important social issues addressed by the DEI Statement Requirement or recant his views to conform to the dictates of the University administration,” the lawsuit alleges.

Throughout the country universities are requiring some sort of DEI statement from applicants outlining their competencies in diversity; in May 2022, Indiana University School of Medicine updated its standards mandating that professors who wish to be promoted, “show effort toward advancing DEI.” The University of Tennessee requires applicants to submit a diversity statement, which they are judged on, telling how they will help contribute to diversity and inclusion at the school.

“The University of California has adopted a modern day loyalty oath for professors who seek to join the faculty,” the lawsuit alleged. “Today’s loyalty oath does not demand a pledge that professors are not members of the Communist Party, but professed agreement with ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ policies and ideology.”

The University of California, Santa Cruz did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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