EDITORIAL: Recognize importance of diversity in faculty
This past week, the University began its search for a tenure-track professor in Astrophysics. The University has emphasized its efforts to recruit and hire faculty of historically underrepresented groups, a practice which we strongly commend. Often, the discussion about diversity tends to revolve around the student body population; however, it is important not to forget those on the other side of the classroom.
Based on data provided by the University, historically underrepresented groups made up 4.6 percent of faculty in the 2014 to 2015 academic year, up from 3.1 percent in 2010. However, this number seems to drop significantly among STEM faculty, with only 0.9 percent of STEM faculty consisting of historically underrepresented groups. Historically underrepresented groups are defined by the University as those faculty who report as Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African-American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. STEM is a crucial area of study in which the University struggles in terms of diversity and should consider hiring more faculty of such groups.
Diversity of faculty tends to foster a sense of inclusion on campus, something that is important for students of all backgrounds. Faculty from a diverse set of backgrounds may be more relatable to a wider set of students and encourage more interest and excitement for such courses. Furthermore, these faculty serve as role models for individuals from such groups, showing that such positions of authority are possible for those of any background. Ford Hall 2015 proved such a point, with students of color protesting the lack of professors of color and general diversity among faculty.
Since Ford Hall, the University has hired a Chief Diversity Officer who has begun the process of creating a more diverse campus. The University also announced Brandeis Counseling Center’s new staff-of-color hires during September 2016 and created a new provision in the hiring process, requiring a diversity representative trained in implicit bias for each search committee in the School of Arts and Sciences. This may prove to be the most important change, addressing the issue at its core and fixing the problem from within.
While this board applauds the CDO and the University for their work, we urge the University to continue its efforts for social justice on campus and diversity among the student body and faculty.