The search for a Vice President for Institute Diversity and the resulting protesters have raised many valid question about diversity on Tech’s campus. While there are many organizations and departments on campus dedicated to diversity, the current situation has them fragmented without a central message or agenda to better develop diversity on an institute-wide basis. A Vice President level position would give more authority to enforce diversity initiatives beyond the student level and into the reaches of faculty and staff.
But this position must also be more encompassing of different diversity forms and not limit the discussion to the need for ethnic and racial diversity. While these two aspects are important, often, diversity is boiled down to P.R. stunts involving people of different complexions taking a picture together. For this position to be worth the time, money and other resources that will be dedicated to it, the person in this new position must go beyond the norm. The new administrator must push the boundaries of the current diversity definition and engage the campus in a larger conversation about effective implementation of a refined diversity strategy. Students, faculty and staff should also be challenged to find their own unique roll on campus.
Intellectual diversity is often overlooked in the broader spectrum of the discussion. As Joseph Bankoff discussed during his recent speech to campus for the IMPACT Speaker Series, innovation comes when people with different perspectives and backgrounds come together and contribute to a larger discussion about a problem facing humanity. Development of this trans-disciplinary forum throughout the Tech campus could be a bold step for the Institute in the future. Encouraging and promoting such discussions should be the goal of the Vice President, not filling quotas.