Harvey Mudd Engineering College Decided It Had Too Many White Men. Now It Has Diversity and Hissy Fits.
Harvey Mudd is one of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California, along with Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Pitzer. Harvey Mudd specializes in science and engineering for undergrads. Alumni often claim that it’s a better undergrad school than nearby Caltech, which is extremely grad oriented. From Wikipedia:
Harvey Mudd today still maintains the highest rate of science and engineering Ph.D. production among all undergraduate colleges and second highest (Caltech ranks first and MIT third) compared to all universities and colleges, according to a 2008 report by the National Science Foundation.
From the Los Angeles Times in January:
At Harvey Mudd more than half of computer science graduates are women.
… Nationwide, according to the Computing Research Assn., more than 84% of undergraduates who major in computer science are men.
Not so at Harvey Mudd, where more than half — 55% — of the latest class of computer science graduates were women, compared to roughly 10% a decade ago. …
To help female students feel like they belonged, professors found ways to remove the so-called “macho effect” by which more-experienced students — usually male — intimidated others by answering all the questions. They pulled those students aside privately and asked them to let others speak. They urged students to save their more advanced conversations for time with their teachers outside of class.
… Today, more than 40% of the school’s computer science faculty is female. Students also are offered a paid trip to the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, billed as the largest professional gathering of women in technology.
It helps that Maria Klawe, Harvey Mudd’s president since 2006, is a computer scientist herself. Her influence in making the field more attractive to women has been recognized by the White House’s chief technology officer. She has called out tech executives for not encouraging women. …
“Building confidence and a sense of belonging and a sense of community among these women makes such a huge difference,” she said. “Once you change the myths and the cultural beliefs about computer science, that has a lot of momentum.”
From Inside Higher Ed this week:
Inside Higher Ed
Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Inside Higher Ed
… Monday and Tuesday this week, the California college will not hold classes, the cancellation following a student sit-in last week at the campus, where minority students issued demands to administration — among them to funnel more money into counseling services, specifically geared toward students of color, and to prioritize minority student groups with funding and other perks.
Students didn’t ask for a cancellation, but rather the college did so to allow students and faculty members time either to consider some of the persisting issues on campus or to recuperate after a tense few weeks, Maria Klawe, the college’s president, said in a phone interview.
The move is highly unusual. Even as many campuses face tensions on race and other issues, it is rare to shut down for even a day as a result.
The full fare for a year at Harvey Mudd is $64,427, so canceling two school days is about equivalent per student to setting fire to $1,000 in mom and dad’s money.
The elite science and engineering-centric institution has suffered a string of misfortunes with the deaths of three students since last July, prompting fresh grief among the campus community every time, Klawe said. The latest, a beloved campus leader with a sunny disposition, was found dead in his room from undetermined causes. The other two students died in separate car accidents. Harvey Mudd enrolls about 800 students, and such deaths affect the tight-knit community deeply, Klawe said. …
Some faculty members, meanwhile, told the interviewers that students were not prepared for their classes, and that they’d observed deterioration in the quality of students accepted to Harvey Mudd over the years. They described students as wed to their phones and not committed to the sciences. …
Faculty viewed the report, but it was withheld from the students to avoid the hurt feelings that would come from the faculty’s comments — all were anonymous, Klawe said.
Still, someone provided it to the student newspaper, and a story on the so-called Wabash report was published two weeks ago, the same day that a memorial service for one of the students was being held on campus.
Students read the story, and later some of them printed out jumbo-size versions of the more stinging remarks from professors included in the report and plastered them to the president’s house and faculty members’ offices.
Later that week, students organized a march around campus and presented administrators with their demands. They want five new counselors for the coming academic year, with three of them being people of color, “to reflect the increasing need of health and wellness initiatives at Mudd to reflect and serve its diversifying student body,” the students wrote on a website detailing their requests. …
Students who staged the sit-in did not respond to interview requests. FEMUnion at Harvey Mudd, a student group that advocates for women in science, technology, mathematics and engineering fields, wrote in a Facebook message to Inside Higher Ed that the student organizers “were tired” and did not wish to be interviewed.
It must have been all that Emotional Labor.
… Klawe described the significant shifts that have occurred on campus in the past decade — white men have historically dominated at the college — until it attempted to diversify the campus, a campaign that has seen relative success.
While leadership there has recruited more women — to the point where they comprise nearly 50 percent of the student body — gains in the numbers of Hispanic and black students were sluggish until recent years, Klawe said. As a college recognized for its sciences, Harvey Mudd competes with institutions like Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both with higher profiles.
With this diversity comes growing pains
Like hurt feelings, lots and lots of hurt feelings.
and practices that benefited what was the traditional Harvey Mudd student still linger, but are being identified.
Students pointed out a couple years ago that all lecturers in a campus speaker series were white men, Klawe said. …
Like with many institutions nationwide, the results of the presidential election upset the campus population, according to Klawe, and so, in a largely positive step, conversations on campus have become more “radicalized” and have centered more than ever on social justice reforms.
Some faculty spent Monday afternoon in a training learning more about sensitivity toward minority groups and women.
This reminds me of my recent Taki’s Magazine column “Diversity versus Debate,” in which I asked:
That raises a question that ought to be of interest to investors: Does the increasing campus hysteria and antirationality portend bad news for Silicon Valley? If students increasingly grow up in a culture in which the person with the most wounded feelings rules, will they be able to code emotionless computers as well as in the past?