July 10, 2023
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 decision banning race-conscious admissions, we know that many of you are wondering what you can do in response. Recognizing that the nation is split in its opinion of the decision, we ask you to consider the following actions:
1) Show Care and Solidarity. First and foremost, we need to come together as minoritized and marginalized students, faculty, staff, and allies/accomplices as we grieve this decision. In this moment, allies and accomplices can best show support by listening and holding space for those directly impacted by this decision.
2) Celebrate and Elevate Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), Women's Colleges, community colleges, and open-enrollment institutions. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Women's Colleges, community colleges, and open-enrollment institutions have served minoritized and marginalized communities for decades and longer. They have been essential in educating and mentoring a large proportion of the nation’s diverse engineering workforce (often while operating in scarce resource environments and resisting systemic injustice).
ASEE is already dedicated to growing MSI capacity through programs such as the ongoing “Capacity Building for Research at Minority Serving Institutions (CyBR-MSI)” program. Through this work, ASEE has partnered with the National Science Foundation, AIHEC, and other affinity organizations to convene MSI faculty to identify the obstacles that have inhibited MSI faculty from competing successfully for Computer Science and Engineering (CISE) core awards from the National Science Foundation. ASEE has also launched communities of practice to build capacity within MSI faculty and within their sponsored research offices. Through this work, three cohorts of MSI grantee teams have been identified as CISE core awardees.
MSIs will play an even more important role in engineering workforce development moving forward from this decision. We can celebrate and elevate the work of these institutions through our own labor, giving, partnerships, collaborations, and recruitment of their graduates. More information about these institutions can be found at the following links:
3) At our own colleges and universities, whether they are minority-serving or predominantly white, we can advocate for the adoption of asset-based approaches in admissions rather than traditional measures of “merit” that build in various types of bias.
4) Recognize that we cannot afford to filter out talent from the engineering workforce, weeding out students who lack pre-college opportunity and the preparation it provides. We have developed evidence-based tools and programs to improve retention and effective learning, to develop cultures of inclusion and belonging, and to define smoother, more flexible degree pathways. We must double down on our commitment to implement these improvements broadly in engineering education. ASEE is currently promoting efforts in this area through the NSF-funded Engineering Mindset project, the Future Ready Engineering Ecosystem (FREE) project, and the Weaving In, Not Weeding Out (WINWO) project.
5) Work with industry partners to leverage our collective credibility, authority, and standing as engineers to ensure pathways into our profession are accessible to all. Many of our industrial partners, especially those who participate in the Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration (CIEC), offer support for outreach to Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade (P12) students, as does ASEE through the P12 Commission and the Pre-College Engineering Education Division. ASEE also works with industry, government, and higher education to support graduating PhDs via the Engineering Postdoctoral Fellows (eFellows), Innovative Postdoctoral Entrepreneurial Research Fellowship (IPERF), and Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) postdoctoral fellowship programs. Ensuring those programs continue to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging will require renewed energy, persistence, advocacy, and creativity.
ASEE will not cease in its work toward a more diverse, inclusive, and just society. We are grateful to our members and partner organizations who join us in resolute commitment to equity and accessibility in engineering education.
ASEE Board of Directors