Return on Equality Week is now One Wharton Week. Both a celebration and an examination of diversity at Wharton, the event will build community and dialogue with lectures, workshops, panels, and cultural events for MBA students from February 12 to 15.

“Given this is truly a partnership with the larger MBA community, students felt that One Wharton Week was more representative of the collaboration across student clubs,” said Jessica Guerrero, Co-Chair of the MBA Program Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee and Senior Associate Director for Diversity for MBA Admissions and Financial Aid.

The event was founded in 2015 as Diversity Week under the auspices of Return on Equality (RoE), then a brand-new coalition of clubs and now a student organization in its own right.  

“One Wharton Week has evolved in the three years since Return on Equality was founded but at its core, it’s still the greatest demonstration of how the Wharton community can come together and learn from each other,” said Simone Thomas, WG’18, co-president of ROE.  

Now a range of clubs comes together to put on programming, not just RoE. For example, this year One Wharton Week includes an event hosted with the Wharton Analytics Club to talk about bias in technology and algorithms and another with the Media & Entertainment Club to screen the movie Get Out, followed by small group dinners to foster discussion. (See full schedule of events.)

“We wanted this collaborative effort to express the deep commitment from all groups to diversity and inclusion work here at Wharton,” said Simone. “It’s not just ROE and we wanted the student body to understand that commitment.”

The Evolution of One Wharton Week

In 2017 Howie Kaufold, Vice Dean of the MBA Program, charged members of his Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Steering Committee to forge an active partnership with MBA students to collaborate and advise the MBA Program’s D&I Strategy. Student leaders from WGA, RoE, and members of the D&I Steering Committee formed the D&I Task Force, the ongoing partnership with the administration and students that sponsors One Wharton Week. The partnership between RoE, the administration, and the Wharton Graduate Association happened as a result of years of collaboration.

“This was a natural evolution in the commitment of each team in doing this work,” said Sue Kauffman DePuyt, Co-Chair of the MBA Program Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee and Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives and Communications for the Vice Dean’s Office.

For One Wharton Week, students typically do the vast majority of the programming with the support of the administration.

“This support comes in all forms,” said Jessica. “Dean Howie has a D&I Fund which helps to subsidize the cost of programming that supports the D&I Strategy. We help students secure speakers, promote the week, and even advise in some cases on content.”

#MeToo at One Wharton

The last event of the week is one of the most highly anticipated, as Wharton MBAs address the #MeToo phenomenon and issues of sexual assault and harassment that have emerged in recent months.

“ROE hasn’t yet talked about the #MeToo movement on campus so we’re planning to host a conversation on sexual assault but one that includes the often silenced male perspective,” said Simone. “We’re hoping to facilitate an open discussion in which we can understand the experience and thoughts from both genders and provide a platform for people to ask questions about a very uncomfortable and complicated topic.”

Simone said that the tense political climate impacted the campus last year, but the concerted efforts of students, organizations, and administrators has made a difference.

“This year, it feels like Wharton students have been more engaged with ROE and we believe that is in part because of the welcoming nature in which the club operates,” said Simone. “We want diverse perspectives in the room and really are trying to create an environment that feels that way.”

— Kelly Andrews

Posted: February 6, 2018

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