“Loyalty Oaths” in University Employment Should Be a Non-starter
Colleges and universities have been implementing diversity initiatives for many years now. I’ve commented on the massive problems inherent in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) push in education in the past. But now some Missouri institutions of higher learning have taken it a step further by requiring the equivalent of a “loyalty oath” to diversity initiatives as a condition of employment.
“Loyalty oaths” can mean a lot of things, but here I mean “loyalty oath” to be an ideological attestation required for public employment. Want to work at Missouri State? UMSL? UMKC? You might have to toe the DEI line first, even though doing so (1) is prejudicial to applicants, (2) undermines the free inquiry objectives of government colleges and universities by homogenizing professors, and (3) could deny Missouri students the best teachers by biasing hiring toward ideologues rather than experts.
Here’s another example: a University of Central Missouri job listing for a librarian features this remarkable sentence that starts reasonably and spirals from there:
The Cataloging and Metadata Librarian identifies and addresses metadata remediation needs, as well as the adoption of new or updated standards and vocabularies in support of James C. Kirkpatrick Libraries’ commitment to incorporating social justice into our work, focusing on the James C. Kirkpatrick Libraries’ diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racist efforts.
A math professor listing for Mizzou notes that an applicant who can “employ justice-oriented frameworks (e.g., anti-racist, abolitionist, decolonial, indigenous)” to their work would be a preferred applicant.
Taxpayers should be paying to “decolonize” math, huh?
Employees of America’s higher education system have long been left of center on average, but taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize this special kind of nonsense. Compelling librarians and math professors to commit to the Left’s preferred politics is viewpoint discrimination that encourages groupthink and creates an academic environment where everyone who’s hired to educate is part of some political in-group. That’s unhealthy if you want an academic environment that challenges biases rather than affirms them.
Hiring practices like those required in these “loyalty oaths” could discourage highly qualified subject matter experts from even applying for jobs that have no, or should have no, political or social justice component. Florida is in the process of uprooting this sort of caustic academic culture entirely, dismantling DEI programs in colleges and universities statewide. All other things being equal, are Missouri taxpayers really willing to cede qualified conservative and moderate professors to states like Florida? I don’t think so.
Missouri institutions of higher learning should focus on creating a welcoming environment by treating employees and students as individuals instead of trying to engineer campus-wide groupthink through the way that they hire teachers. Woke loyalty oaths have no business in the state’s hiring documents.
Update: University of Missouri President Mun Choi responded to this post with the following statement:
University of Missouri President on faculty recruiting practices:
The UM System does not have loyalty oaths
COLUMBIA, Mo. — A recent post from the Show-Me Institute references “loyalty oaths” related to faculty hiring at higher education institutions. I want to be very clear — we do not have loyalty oaths of any kind at the University of Missouri System.
We strive to ensure that every UM System university has employees who are committed to an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone. Currently, we have students and scholars from every county in Missouri, all 50 states and more than 50 countries, among them individuals from various walks of life, including from rural and metro areas, military veterans and first-generation students — each with a different point of view.
We hire the best faculty who exemplify the highest standards of teaching and research, and we do not compromise on quality.