California law requires public universities to fulfill requests for public records promptly. But the University of California Berkeley took more than two years to hand over records related to its use of diversity statements for faculty hiring—hardly prompt.
Many universities around the country now require candidates for faculty positions to detail their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in written diversity statements as part of their job application. Requiring candidates to submit these statements can impose a de facto loyalty oath or political litmus test when universities use them to weed out applicants who hold dissenting or minority viewpoints. So when FIRE learned that Berkeley’s life sciences departments eliminated candidates for faculty positions based solely on their diversity statements, we sent the university a public-records request to learn more.
But the records never came. When FIRE still had not received word about the status of our request in February 2023—almost two full years after we issued our request—we threatened to sue unless the university immediately complied with its duty to disclose public information. As a result, Berkeley finally handed over the records in May 2023—795 days after FIRE requested them.
The records—which confirmed that the life sciences committee only hired candidates who endorsed the university’s DEI goals—will help inform FIRE’s ongoing advocacy against the use of required diversity statements as ideological litmus tests.