The Wharton Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Group will begin operation in fall 2020 as the first group to solely focus on issues of currently underrepresented communities within the school.
After realizing there was not an entity that spearheads equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives within Wharton, WEDIG was created by Wharton Wellness members and the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board, rising Wharton junior and WEDIG co-founder Nia Robinson said.
While the group aims to serve all students, it will focus on the needs of underrepresented populations within Wharton by implementing programs, workshops, and other initiatives to foster a more diverse and inclusive community.
Robinson said WEDIG's mission is to “increase the satisfaction of Wharton undergraduate students with historically lower satisfaction."
Rising Wharton senior and co-founder of WEDIG Daniel Mendelsohn said the group's founders intentionally left the mission statement vague to encompass all student groups, as “someone who’s underrepresented today may not be 10 years from now.”
WEDIG has already created its constitution and recruited two co-chairs who will be part of the leadership team next year: rising Wharton senior Oyinkansola Sofela and rising Wharton junior Javion Joyner.
The group plans on recruiting the rest of its leadership team in fall 2020 before choosing initiatives to work on throughout the year, Sofela said.
Possible ideas the group leaders are looking to implement include monthly town halls, an inclusive leadership workshop series, club and faculty diversity training, and a diversity alumni mentorship program, Robinson said. The team is also pushing for an Associate Dean of Diversity position within all of Penn’s schools, Mendelsohn added.
WEDIG was formed by the members of Wharton Wellness and WAB who worked on the equal satisfaction initiative, which was founded in spring 2019 by members of WAB to increase the satisfaction of minority groups within Wharton, 2020 Wharton and Nursing graduate Joanna Hu, who worked on the initiative, said.
Throughout the fall 2019 semester, a task force composed of students from WAB, Wharton Wellness, and Wharton Council conducted research, organized focus groups, and hosted conversations with students. During these discussions, students voiced issues such as a lack of diversity within clubs, unequal access to resources, and feeling as if their voices are not heard within the University, Robinson said.
Ultimately, the task force decided there was a need for a new organization dedicated to equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, Hu added.
Over the course of the spring 2020 semester, the equal satisfaction task force worked to submit its proposed new group, WEDIG, for approval by administrators, Robinson said.
“It was a hard battle, hard to convince administration to create a new G95 organization,” Robinson said, referring to a student club run out of the Wharton administration.
WEDIG was approved for its trial period in April. If the group operates successfully the next year, the group will be officially recognized as a new G95 organization, rising Wharton sophomore and Wharton Wellness member Liu said.
“I hope to make Wharton a community where everyone feels safe, comfortable, and equal,” Hu said.