Kate Lyden, '24, speaks about the club fair and new clubs during the Student Senate meeting in Sinclair Auditorium, on Oct. 10. Lyden is the club affairs chair for Student Senate. (Wesley Huang/B&W Staff)

Student Senate hosts faculty panel discussing diversity and inclusion


The Student Senate Diversity and Inclusion Committee hosted a panel of Lehigh professors on Oct. 26 to discuss their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in their classrooms, departments and teaching.

Head of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Ashley Kim, ‘24, said she organized the panel to provide extra perspectives and an opportunity for open discussion, noting how age and profession can change views on diversity and inclusion issues.

The panel included Mary Anne Madeira, assistant professor of international relations, Sabrina Jedlicka, associate professor of engineering, and Holona Ochs, associate professor of political science. They answered questions from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and student senators. 

When asked if there is enough diversity at Lehigh University, every member of the panel agreed that Lehigh lacks diversity and their classrooms are greatly affected by this. 

“When there is only one person of color in a class, that changes the way they participate because they feel they are the only one who has had that experience,” Madeira said. 

Ochs said the lack of diversity in the classroom inhibits innovation and undermines trust. 

“It is difficult to talk about pressing issues in our country when there is no trust about making policy inclusive,” she said. 

As an engineering professor, Jedlicka said topics of diversity and inclusion have to be incorporated into the curriculum in more creative ways by looking at the ethical beside the technical. 

“Diversity issues apply to engineering as we serve constituents and need to know how to support marginalized communities,” she said. “Bridges have literally been built to separate communities of color from white neighborhoods. We have a duty to keep that from happening again.” 

The professors all said this younger generation they are teaching has pushed them to actively work on diversity issues. In the political science department, Ochs informed students of the monthly Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DEI) workshops all professors participate in. 

Ochs said they select readings on diversity and inclusion issues to discuss them to learn about things that may have been overlooked in their own education. 

In addition to these meetings, she said the political science department uses a database to make sure their syllabus readings have a diversity of gender and country to provide students with a well-rounded perspective. 

The professors said the senators should actively demand more from their teachers. 

“No one should pay to go into a class to be abused, ignored or marginalized,” said Holona Ochs, associate professor of political science.

“No one should pay to go into a class to be abused, ignored or marginalized,” Ochs said. “Don’t be afraid to speak up if something doesn’t sound right around you.” 

The floor was opened up after the panel questions for senators to suggest ways to promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom. 

Kate Lyden, ‘24, suggested professors and their departments include a DEI statement on their syllabi and websites. 

Jedlicka liked her suggestion and said they require every applicant in her department to submit a DEI with their resume and that it shouldn’t be too much to ask that statements be publicized by current professors. 

Fenet Demissie, ‘24, another member of Student Senate, said it is important to have the panel, because as student representatives, they have a role in the senate to communicate the needs of the students to non-student parties. In this way, they can directly communicate with professors and department heads. 

The panel ended with closing statements from each of the professors where they thanked the senators for their feedback and promised to bring it back to their classrooms and departments. 

“I wasn’t entirely comfortable walking into this conversation, but I want students to know that we want to talk about this because it is so important,” Jedlicka said. 

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1 Comment

  1. Enough Already on

    The obsession with DEI foolish is utterly ridiculous. Recently a black guest commentator on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News described this sort of thing as a bunch of elitist nonsense. As he put it, on one side there are:

    “White liberals seeking absolution for things they didn’t commit”

    and on the other side there are:

    “Black liberals seeking empathy for injustices they didn’t endure.”

    Both sides are preposterous phonies. It would appear that those described in this article have been suckered into aligning themselves into those two elitist camps.

    Lehigh needs to stop pandering on these issues.

    It should abolish the entirety of everything shown on page 4 of Lehigh’s organization chart which is the page for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.


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