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Polytechnic university rolls out DEI initiatives for 20 different campus divisions

A university in Massachusetts dedicated to developing future scientists and engineers also appears to be seriously focused on infusing diversity, equity and inclusion into its programs.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a 160-year-old institution focused on training students in STEM fields, recently announced that 20 departments, units, schools or other divisions had successfully infused DEI initiatives into their programs over the 2023-24 school year.

The School of Arts & Sciences, for example, held “syllabus inclusivity” workshops focused on “pronoun usage, inclusive strategies, and conscientious citation practices,” the university stated in a news release.

The Office of Undergraduate Studies organized “research opportunities with a DEIB lens, promoting diversity in research and scholarship.” The IT department spent time implementing phonetic name spelling and pronunciation recordings “to ensure respectful name usage.”

WPI’s Global School launched JET grants, which stands for Justice, Equity, and Transformation, and funded one such initiative focused on “menstrual hygiene awareness.” The Global Experience Office also “integrated JET criteria into the Global Lab Fellowship selection.”

Additional divisions that took part include: facilities; George C. Gordon Library; biomedical engineering; division of enrollment management; and the office of the general counsel.

“WPI works diligently through a variety of ongoing initiatives to foster a community of respect and inclusion where everyone belongs,” Colleen Bamford Wamback, a spokesperson for the institute, told The College Fix via email, adding the efforts “ensure that everyone feels a sense of belonging and can be successful here.”

Annual tuition at the private institute is nearly $60,000 per year.

As The College Fix has previously reported, in 2016 the National Science Foundation awarded Worcester Polytechnic researchers nearly $150,000 to study how to make LGBT students “feel comfortable” in their engineering classes.

The study’s abstract argued engineering schools “are notoriously inhospitable to LGBTQ people.”

Asked to weigh in on the DEI efforts at the STEM school, Kennesaw State University finance Professor David Bray, a vocal DEI critic, said such efforts run afoul of meritocratic science.

“There is nothing more disastrous to STEM than focusing on the amount of melanin in one’s skin, what’s between one’s legs, or what one wishes to find between another’s legs. DEI is racist, sexist, and heterophobic,” said Bray, who is gay and whose preferred pronouns are “hilarious/handsome/homosexual.”

“I highly doubt that engineering schools are inhospitable to LGBTQ-folks who are rational and hard working.”

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.