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Leadership Perspectives

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Hey Tartans,

I hope that everyone is enjoying the Pittsburgh winter weather and had fun last night watching the Steelers in the Super Bowl. For all us seniors, it’s awesome that Steelers’ runs to the Super Bowl have acted as bookends to our time here.

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the historic Presidential inauguration only a few weeks back, I’ve decided to touch on a relevant issue to the current times — diversity on campus. Last week, in one of my Modern Languages classes, my professor asked us each to comment on the following question, “Is Carnegie Mellon diverse?” The knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Of course.” By race, by religion, by gender, by background, by thought — it would seem to me that Carnegie Mellon is quite the diverse place.

But what was interesting was the variety of responses from students in the class as we began to probe deeper into the topic. Can you consider a place diverse if the diverse groups are limited in their interaction? Furthermore, should the university be doing more to facilitate increased collaboration between these groups? Both interesting questions, and something that I wanted to share with readers to consider.

If it’s not apparent, Carnegie Mellon’s emphasis on diversity as a core value can be seen year after year during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. In addition to serving on the Diversity Advisory Council, I had the opportunity on MLK Day to attend President Cohon’s address on the State of Diversity at Carnegie Mellon, and what became apparent to me is just how fundamental diversity is when considering President Cohon’s vision for the university.

That being said, a major challenge exists. Only around 10 percent of our undergraduate enrollment is under-represented minorities. Compared to other top-ranked universities, we have one of the lowest yields in this population segment, meaning that the ratio between those people who were admitted and those people who enroll is low. Despite the difficult economic times, I’d like hear more from the university community about creative and strategic ways that they plan to increase the amount of aid offered to these groups.

If you’d like to get involved in diversity initiatives on campus, please feel free to contact me at sbp@andrew.cmu.edu. Pooja and I have a number of additional projects that we are beginning to get finalized including dining and safety changes, a weekend loop bus, and a campus design initiative — we look forward to sharing them with you in the coming weeks. Until then, stay warm!