Addressing Racism and Inequity in Engineering
June 3, 2020
Dear ITL Program Team,
Please take the time to read interim dean Keith Molenaar’s message about the recent acts of racial injustice that have sparked protests around the nation and the world. I appreciate that Keith sent this statement, and I look forward to the coming communications from Amy Moreno, director of inclusive culture. Today, Chancellor Phil DiStefano sent a video message that follows up on his May 29 message to our community.
I will briefly share my thoughts on the situation. Racial injustice cannot be tolerated. The recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd frustrate and sadden me, and I know that these are just a few examples of the unjust actions that Black communities and other communities of color must endure daily. We must recognize the systematic biases in our nation’s power structures (at a national, state, and local level) and act to eliminate them. Our field and program are no different.
Engineering, as a field, systematically privileges white men. I did not recognize biases in engineering until I studied inequities as part of my Ph.D. work. We must recognize inequities and do what is necessary to create an inclusive culture for our students, staff and faculty. For our program specifically, I commit to using inclusive hiring practices with a goal of greater diversity for our team. Moreover, I am committing to learning to recognize and mitigate my own biases. I have heard from students and staff on the need for us to pursue these very goals. We must continue to push for diversity, inclusion and equity on our team and in engineering as a whole.
In this difficult time, I applaud those who are peacefully demonstrating and calling for change—we need it. I am encouraging all of us to reflect on our own biases (conscious and unconscious) and push ourselves to practice listening and shifting perspectives so that we can become more welcoming and inclusive. I encourage us to continue learning about race and racism and let’s keep discussing ways in which we will continue to make CEAS a more inclusive community together.
Nick Stites, PhD
Director, Integrated Teaching and Learning Program