“Why bother with diversity and inclusion?”
If you preach it, like I do, you probably get this question a lot. And nothing is more obnoxious than the doubter who says, “You mean lowering my standards?”
Well, no, you say to him (and it’s always a he). Diversity and inclusion is actually about raising standards. It means forcing yourself to meet new people and try new things. It means re-examining the way you’ve always done things.
Seeking diversity and being inclusive of difference is the essence of learning. Until you try something new, you can’t learn anything.
It’s not any different for organizations: Diversity fuels learning and growth. What does it means for a hundred-year-old Ivy League tradition like an eating club to be welcoming of people from different backgrounds?
We’re always learning at Terrace. Our diverse members help us learn what they need to make the Terrace experience work for them. Now the University is introducing much greater socioeconomic diversity across the student body. Our “market” for members, if you will, has changed. Because we were more inclusive early on, we’ve already been learning, Terrace has already been adapting, and our popularity has remained strong.
Inclusion can also protect you from making stupid mistakes. It’s a sad fact of our culture that too many places turn a blind eye to sexism and even sexual assault. At Terrace, we pride ourselves on a safe setting—even while throwing the best parties in central Jersey. Is that because Terrace was the first club to elect a female president, back in 1975? While it made the Prince when another club elected their first woman ever this year, we elected our third female president in four years.
When you factor in different perspectives, you often arrive at a better result. Even for a cynic, the business reasons for diversity should be obvious: Inclusion drives innovation and reduces a lot of risk.
Most importantly, it’s the right thing to do. Princeton has done an amazing job of expanding diversity through admissions; on the whole campus life still has some catching up to do. But no matter who you were before you came to Princeton, you have a place at Terrace. It’s the right thing for us to welcome everyone. And it will help keep Terrace relevant for future generations.
That’s why this newsletter is dedicated to Terrans for Good.
Terrace embraces differences, includes new voices, and does good. When the grad board started the Terrace Social Impact Award last year, we were thrilled to celebrate eight Terrans. On top of that, we held the first Terrace Future seminar series during reunions. Stop by this year for the second installment: TFC social justice. And starting this newsletter we’re celebrating the alumni who continue to live the Terrace spirit. Please read their stories. Be inspired. And nominate a Terran to be featured in forthcoming newsletters.
Food = Love
Alexander Shermansong ’97
Chair, Board of Governors