Wharton’s affinity group leaders collaborated to host an intersectional student panel, the first of its kind for Wharton undergraduates.

This September, Wharton’s student-led undergraduate affinity groups organized the first Diversity at Wharton Panel, where student leaders from Black Wharton, WEDIG, Wharton Alliance, Wharton Asia Exchange, Wharton Latino, and Wharton Women shared their thoughts on topics ranging from the on-campus social scene to social justice. This event gave underclassmen an up-close look into how affinity groups create communities for underrepresented populations at Wharton. 

“My sophomore year, the diversity clubs hosted a fair-style event to learn more about each club, which I really enjoyed and thought helped many students learn about our groups in a more intimate setting since the Wharton fair can be packed,” said Namrita Narula, W’22. “I wanted to expand on this by having a genuine discussion of adjusting to life at Wharton – run by students with diverse backgrounds and identities who have been through this before.”

Diversity at Wharton panel

Namrita was inspired to create the event as the president of Wharton Women, an organization that facilitates the personal and career development of women and underrepresented gender identities in business by building a network of undergraduates, professionals, and faculty.

She worked with Surayya Walters, W’22, the co-chair of Wharton Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Group (WEDIG), who served as moderator for the panel. 

Together, they shared their takeaways from the event.

Walters speaking at the Diversity at Wharton panel

Reaching Across Boundaries

Surayya: “We aimed to address the disconnect that sometimes occurs between our groups, while broadly promoting diversity at Wharton for the freshmen and sophomore students who are interested in becoming involved with our organizations. This year, the affinity groups and WEDIG have been determined to build regular channels of communication and collaboration. Our panel was a step in the right direction.”

Fostering Strong Connections

Surayya: “Our major goal was to promote student intersectionality through this conversation. We know that many Wharton students have overlapping or intersecting identities. Coming together in a space like this shows our solidarity and encourages Wharton students to create ties with multiple communities, instead of simply choosing one. These events also help students to learn more about the cultures and backgrounds of those who might differ from them, while binding us through a common experience and goal.”

Narula speaking at the Diversity at Wharton panel

Finding Commonalities in Difference

Namrita: “We were all able to be vulnerable and speak about instances where we felt imposter syndrome or a lack of belonging on campus. I think this showed underclassmen that there will always be bumps in the road in college, no matter your background or age, but your resilience and communities will help you overcome them.”

Surayya: “I learned that our groups are more similar than we are different. Sometimes, groups that are formed around identity may give us the false impression that we are more different than alike. However, we are intersectional, and have shared experiences as Wharton students, irrespective of our race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation.”

Planning for the Future

Namrita: “We are definitely hoping to make this a recurring event and would love to host more affinity group collaborations throughout the year, whether that takes the form of speaker sessions or workshops. Next year, we hope to host one before the club recruitment cycle is over so that first-years and new students can learn more about our groups before applying.”

Wharton affinity group leaders posing for a photo

— Gemma Hong

Posted: December 3, 2021

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