EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah Board of Higher Education says public colleges are “phasing out” diversity statements from hiring process

Dec 28, 2023, 1:00 PM

Image of the steps leading to the Utah capitol....

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

(Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY— The Utah Board of Higher Education says Utah’s public colleges are moving away from diversity, equity, and inclusion statements as part of their hiring processes. This comes after Utah Gov. Spencer Cox called the practice of using DEI statements in college job hiring “bordering on evil.”

The Utah governor discussed diversity, equity, and inclusion during his PBS monthly news conference.

Additionally, he said Utah prides itself in inviting all people to the table. However, he feels diversity, equity, and inclusion statements don’t contribute to that mission.

DEI statements in higher learning institutions have been challenged in several states around the nation. According to challengers, the statements promote bias toward hiring people of a specific race rather than focusing on equal opportunity.

The Utah and Salt Lake County Democratic Parties issued a statement criticizing the governor’s words.

“There is nothing awful, or evil, about working toward equity and diversity in our schools … Contrary to Governor Cox’s claims, we believe that DEI programs help unite people. No one is being “forced into a box or victimhood” when we recognize diversity,” the statement reads.

Utah education board says diversity statements haven’t been a priority

In a statement issued days after the governor’s news conference, the Utah Board of Higher Education said DEI statements or questions haven’t been a priority as of late.

“Some of Utah’s colleges and universities had incorporated various forms of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) statements or questions into their hiring procedures in the past. However, these institutions have been phasing out this practice for some time.”

Additionally, the board said they are working with state leaders to conduct  a comprehensive review of DEI practices on Utah campuses to ensure schools have, “equal opportunity hiring practices, and support all students.”

In the news conference, Gov, Cox promised Utah college job applications will no longer contain DEI statements after the General Legislative Session in 2024.

“I applaud Governor Cox and the Utah Board of Higher Education for standing up for what’s right,” Utah House Speaker Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, posted on X.  “They have my full support.”


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Utah Board of Higher Education says public colleges are “phasing out” diversity statements from hiring process