While receiving negative press is a destabilizing experience, what follows doesn’t have to be. After the UC Berkeley College of Engineering was spotlighted in an October 2011 California Watch article that uncovered sexism in its male-dominated student culture, the school has made a heartening start toward a more diverse student body.
The college should be commended for the speed at which it has identified problems and pushed solutions that increase the representation of both women and underrepresented minorities in its programs.
By creating an associate dean of equity and inclusion — a position specifically focused on recruiting and retaining students from all backgrounds — the college has proven that it has a long-term intention to address the issue.
A strategy that focuses on the recruitment of people from diverse backgrounds, as the college is already undertaking with its initiatives that target K-12 students, must continue to be a focus under the new dean, Oscar Dubon. Every student at the college should already feel equality of opportunity when they are admitted, but getting there can be a mighty challenge in and of itself. Yes, recruitment is only one part of the issue, but the path to a Berkeley engineering degree must be marked by inroads visible to all potential students.
Only time can tell how successful the College of Engineering will be in promoting the diversity and equity of people who form its community, but the genuine concern its administrators have displayed demonstrates their commitment to remedying those problems.
Berkeley’s engineers must continue to lead the way toward progress and solutions without dwelling indefinitely on what’s broken. In the end, excellence is sacrificed when opportunity is not afforded to all.
We must remember, though, that new deans and recruiting programs do not themselves make up for a lack of diversity on campus, but serve simply as a good beginning to be maintained and elaborated upon.
Only time can tell how successful the College of Engineering will be in promoting the diverstiy of people who form its community, but the genuine concern its administrators have displayed demonstrates their commitment to remedying those problems.
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