The Wharton Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Group met for its first-ever General Body Meeting on Oct. 8 to discuss how Wharton can better address diversity, equity, and inclusion.
WEDIG, which was founded in fall 2020, strives to promote inclusivity for underrepresented groups in Wharton. About 30 potential general body members, board members, and panelists representing nine different Wharton affinity groups met in Huntsman Hall for an information session and panel. Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Consulting, Wharton Woman, Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board, Wharton Successful Transition & Empowerment Program, Wharton Council, Wharton Ambassadors, Wharton Asia Exchange, Black Wharton Undergraduate Association, and Wharton Wellness were all represented on the panel.
WEDIG's initiatives include collecting data to measure a sense of belonging, creating Wharton courses that synthesize business and social justice, and creating a WEDIG advisory board consisting of Wharton professors to provide learning, mentorship, and leadership opportunities to members.
“I haven’t experienced any explicit discrimination, but it’s definitely very apparent when I’m the only Black girl in the room,” Wharton junior and External Communications Chair Karynton Crawford said. “It definitely makes an impact when you don’t see people that look like you in certain classrooms.”
Wharton’s Class of 2025 is 47% female and 63% students of color, according to self-reporting to Penn Admissions. The Wharton class profile does not display how the school fares in other factors of diversity such as sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.
Wharton senior and WEDIG Co-chair Omer Qureshi said that while the student body is very diverse, discrimination still occurs on campus.
“I generally find that these very overt acts of discrimination are typically not things that necessarily happen, but the more sinister under-the-table acts of discrimination in which people are not actually countering their internalized biases — those are the more harmful things that we see in day-to-day interactions,” Qureshi said.
In addition to racial diversity and discrimination, the panel criticized the lack of funding for cultural organizations and the lack of inclusivity in club recruitment. Students also discussed the limited availability of closed captioning and wheelchair accessibility in Wharton classes and buildings.
Panelists also commended Wharton’s encouragement of diversity in the admissions process and its efforts to help underrepresented students in the job recruiting process through specific opportunities for students of color. They also discussed the changes various groups have made to DEI initiatives since the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
The Wharton Asia Exchange, for instance, said that it transitioned from solely a pre-professional group by adding a cultural focus through activities such as trips to Chinatown. A representative from Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Consulting, which is also known as DISC, said the group plans to integrate equity into their work to move beyond just diversity and inclusion.
One of WEDIG’s goals for the coming year is to increase the organization’s media presence, Wharton senior and Co-chair Surayya Walters said. WEDIG launched a podcast in April 2021 in partnership with The Daily Pennsylvanian to discuss DEI issues within the Wharton community.
This year, WEDIG is working on creating an online platform that displays all events held by Wharton affinity or DEI groups, said Walters, who is a DP columnist. WEDIG also plans to host joint events to promote intersectionality among Wharton groups that have traditionally operated independently.
WEDIG will hold two more general body meetings this fall and take board member applications during the spring semester.
“[WEDIG] is much bigger than just a board," Walters said. "It's a movement for diversity, and a movement needs a lot of people.”
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