Four of California’s top research universities, including Stanford, have joined forces in an effort to increase the presence of underrepresented minorities among faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Hannah Valantine, senior associate dean for diversity and leadership at the School of Medicine, has been named the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) first-ever chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.
For all its achievements in innovation, Silicon Valley hasn’t made much progress on inclusion. Only 6.8 percent of technical employees in Silicon Valley are from underrepresented minority groups in a county that is almost 30 percent black or Latino.
When it was founded in 1891, Stanford was ahead of its time: The school did not charge tuition fees, it admitted women and it had no religious affiliation. There were Asian American and Native American students in the first classes. But despite these measures, Stanford was, for the first 70 years of its history, overwhelmingly male – and even more overwhelmingly white.
Stanford, and other elite institutions, should begin to fully explore the nuances of their affirmative action policies and ultimately frame them in a more appropriate manner.
I want to question the way our school defines diversity and if we truly are as inclusive of all kinds of diversity with regards to admissions as we say we are. Although I think our Office of Undergraduate Admission does a wonderful job in admitting a wide range of students, there are areas that should be examined to see if they could be improved.
I grew up in Daytona Beach, Fla., a town primarily known for Spring Break, NASCAR and driving on the beach. The warm ocean was a good place to learn to surf (despite being the shark-bite capital of the world), and the public schools prepared me adequately for Stanford’s rigorous academics. However, what I realize now is that it is an area lacking the rich diversity many of us have come to take for granted in our time on the Farm.
There is something each and every one of us can do, though. Blessed with the opportunity to attend a university rich with diversity, we should make our Stanford experience whole by learning from the lives of our fellow students. To not do so is to squander the rare opportunity to revel in true diversity. The Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) sees this challenge and organizes around it.