Rame Hanna, director of Diversity & Inclusive Excellence at WPI, offers thoughts about Naudin Oswell ’30, WPI’s first black graduate. Oswell overcame racial discrimination to become a pioneering figure in public housing and in the investment banking community. “His legacy is one of trailblazing perseverance through racial segregation and relentless systemic and structural oppression,” says Hanna. Read more in this remarkable story.
WPI's Values Statement
We are a community that stands for civility and respect. We stand for acceptance of others and champion those who may need compassion and understanding. We are an inclusive community that respects peaceful discord and upholds a fundamental belief that all members of our community deserve to feel safe. Our collective mix of thoughts and experiences enrich those fundamental values that have long guided our university. As we navigate through times of change, know that our values remain.
We believe that a community-wide focus on sustainable inclusive excellence is not only imperative to fostering an inclusive learning and work environment, but also elevating the impact a culture of belonging can have on the greater STEM community. Listed below are our institutional definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion that serve as one of the many foundations to this important work.
Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, physical or cognitive abilities, as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.
Creating opportunities for equal access and success for historically underrepresented populations, such as racial and ethnic minority and low-income students, in three main areas:
The proportional participation at all levels of an institution.
The distribution of educational resources in order to close equity gaps.
The demonstration of an awareness of and willingness to address equity issues among institutional leaders and staff.
The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical). This engagement with diversity has the potential to increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.
Pronoun Usage Resources
For most individuals, the pronouns that others use when referring to them are not something they have to ever worry about or consider. As such, a dialogue around gender pronouns may not seem as imperative. However, talking about pronouns is a small way to normalize mindfulness of our assumptions and promote gender inclusion.
We have curated some suggested practices that we hope will help promote gender pronoun visibility and greater efforts towards creating a more inclusive and affirming WPI community.
A Seat at the Table
Remember the first time you “saw yourself” in something? Whether it was in a piece of media, a career path, or even something as simple as a Wikipedia article, there’s a certain high that comes from representation and knowing you’re not alone in your identity or emotions—that someone gets it, gets you.
STEM Faculty Launch Workshop
Finding a tenure-track position in a STEM field is tough, but if you’re not prepared, it’s even harder. And you still have to excel when you land your dream job. WPI runs an annual STEM Faculty Launch workshop for graduate students and postdoctoral students (women and underrepresented people of color are encouraged to apply) across the country who are seeking those roles. Our faculty expertise and nuts-and-bolts career advice for future academics helps brings diversity to academia.
Assisting International Students
As home to the Office of International Students and Scholars, the International House at 28 Trowbridge Road offers advice, guidance, and a welcoming space for international students at WPI. With extensive knowledge of essential services and issues of concern to international students, the team here supports the academic, professional, and personal growth of students while ensuring a smooth transition at WPI.
WPI's Welcoming Environment
WPI is committed to an environment welcoming to all. We ensure inclusive spaces including several Gender Inclusive Restroom Locations and a nursing room in the Gordon Library that can be reserved here. And the staff at the Gordon Library has complied a Pride Resources (PDF) list for access to the thousands of journal articles, newspaper articles, streaming video and other media referencing LGBTQIA+ issues. WPI also has OASIS House, a designated safe space for the community.