Society Takes a Stand on Administration Changes
ASEE continues to represent our members and their interests through our engagement in policy issues. That includes statements on issues of national importance related to engineering and engineering education. In October, we issued the following statements:
ASEE Board of Directors’ Statement on Planned Change to Authorized Duration of Stay for F-1 Visa Holders
Most engineering students in the United States—regardless of country of origin—require more than four years to complete a doctoral or baccalaureate degree. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has provided notice of a new rule establishing a maximum period of four years for authorized stay for international students and holders of certain nonimmigrant visas. A likely effect will be to increase uncertainty and cause disruption to the study plans of the nearly 60 percent of engineering doctoral students who are on such visas, as well as the many international students pursuing master’s or bachelor’s degrees. Limiting the term of visas for such students will likely constrict the flow of talent to our shores, reduce degree completion within our universities, and diminish the quality and quantity of work that fuels our nation’s economic growth and global competitiveness. We urge careful study and caution before implementing such a rule.
ASEE Board of Directors’ Statement on the White House Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping
The suggestion that efforts to minimize racial and gender social disparities are themselves racist and sexist is fashionable among those who do not want to accept the reality that American society has consistently privileged some groups at the expense of others. Rather than working to address the problem, these individuals prohibit speaking the truth of its existence. Engineers know that properly framing a problem is fundamental to finding a solution. Denial doesn’t yield solutions; it prevents them.
Diversity education does not just expand the community of engineering students and professionals; it makes for better engineers. Engineering professionals design, develop, produce, and maintain systems that serve the human community. If our engineering students and professionals lack an understanding of the full diversity of that community, then they cannot adequately perform their duties.
ASEE finds the executive order destructive of its stated goals of reducing divisiveness and promoting excellence and collaborative achievement in the workplace. We respectfully request its immediate rescission.
For the full statement, please visit https://bit.ly/3dNWpRm.
Reaffirming our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Community Call to Action
By the ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CDEI) is a support body for the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Board of Directors and the entire professional society. Our members engage in research, teaching, and service that work toward a culture in engineering that respects, values, and celebrates the many perspectives we all bring, which, as a whole, serve our greater society. The ASEE CDEI affirms our continued commitment to contribute to and follow research on effective anti-racist and anti-sexist training, as well as effective institutional change to remove barriers created by systemic inequalities that exist in society. We reject the content in the recent Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (September 22, 2020) and oppose the implementation of the Executive Order (EO). We affirm the statement by the ASEE Board of Directors (October 16, 2020).
WE REJECT that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are “divisive” topics. We reject that unity of perspective of Americans is a desirable reality. We reject the idea that the different perspectives we bring to the world make us “divisive.”
WE AFFIRM that appreciation and acceptance of diversity is desirable. Differences can be, and should be, a source of strength, growth, and even solidarity. Social movements show us that ideas deemed “divisive” by the powerful may hold the key to liberation, and they cannot be ordered away nor controlled by authority.
WE REJECT the notion advanced in the Executive Order that the denial of systemic racism and sexism is necessary to honor “the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual.” We cannot deny that racism and sexism existed in the past and that they continue in the present day. There is ample documentation that racism and sexism are interwoven into the fabric of America as evidenced by the theft of Native land through force and violence; the capture, enslavement, and oppression of Africans in the building of the nation; disproportionate policing and criminal justice impacts on Black and Brown people; the historical exclusion from voting of White women and Black men and women; and present-day redlining and voter suppression of marginalized communities.
WE AFFIRM as a community that engineering itself has a historical past of inequity at all levels, including disproportionate participation in and access to engineering degrees and employment. Engineering operates within our society as a whole that is rife with systemic racism. This systemic racism has manifested in disproportionate dangers and benefits from engineered technologies. Until we can see racism for what it is, we will never be able to address the barriers and inequities in our society and profession.
WE REJECT the attempt of this EO to limit the scope of diversity, equity, and inclusion research activities and the academic freedom of individual researchers by bypassing and undermining disciplinary and professional standards for peer review.
WE AFFIRM that this is a moment to stand firm in our support of education and training around DEI and concrete accountable actions to reduce systemic barriers to equity in our society and profession.
We call on the engineering education community to rise to the challenge. We recognize the responsibility of engineering educators to prepare students to participate in an interdisciplinary, multicultural world, with competencies in diverse teaming, creating inclusive workplace environments, and ensuring equity. This is not merely a fashionable academic pursuit but instead a journey to dismantle rhetoric and policies that reinforce the acceptance and promotion of biased conceptualizations like colorblindness and meritocracy.
All ASEE members: Commit or re-commit to the ASEE/SEFI Joint Statement of DEI (http://bit.ly/ASEE-SEFI-DEI) and its pledge:
As a member of a global engineering community, I pledge to celebrate diversity, create opportunities, and actively support inclusive environments, in which all my students, colleagues, and members of the wider society are welcomed, respected, and valued. I acknowledge that a path with no examination, reflection, and action perpetuates an inequitable status quo. I commit to work collaboratively with all engineering community members and stakeholders to disrupt systemic exclusion and to create a culture where all will thrive.
Engineering deans and administrators: Continue offering and supporting DEI initiatives. Allow evidence-based practices to inform your decision-making, not the Executive Order which ignores decades of research on systemic racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism.
Engineering faculty: Integrate discussion of historical and present-day inequities in the examples you use in the classroom. Do not fear sharing history and examples of bias with your students; instead be concerned that if you do not recognize and educate your students on these inequities, they will continue to exist and be replicated in future generations.
Engineering organizations (for-profit and non-profit): Examine and revise your policies and practices to remove structures that perpetuate inequities in your organization. Commit to organizational learning that helps people see their own individual collusion with systemic racism and sexism.
All engineering professionals and students: Utilize resources for continuing professional development regarding DEI education and institutional change in engineering:
- ASEE webinars:
- ASEE CDEI Virtual Workshops:
- #EngineersShowUp Resources:
- Black in Engineering Community:
ASEE CDEI contributors to this statement (in alphabetical order): Becky Bates, Ellen Foster, Madeleine Jennings, Walter Lee, Liz Litzler, Jeremi London, Justin Major, Claire McCullough, Stephanie Quiles-Ramos, Donna Riley, Beena Sukumaran, Lauren D. Thomas, and Susan Walden.