ROCKET: What is your response to the celebration for the 100 years of women?
Mohini Jodhpurkar: I am very glad the school is focusing on this milestone, as it is a very important one. However, I feel that it is not doing its best as in many circles, it appears to be erasing the experiences of people who aren’t white women.
R: What still needs to change in the way William & Mary prioritizes/supports women, especially WOC?
MJ: The school does a decent job of supporting women as a whole, I would say, but there’s still a lot more to do. One thing that would help is having more female faculty, across all departments, so incoming students are encouraged to pursue any discipline. Also, the school could do more to show women that they will be listened to and supported, because as it stands sometimes they may feel scared if forced to report an altercation.
R: What measures can William & Mary take to make campus a more inclusive community for POC, especially WOC?
MJ: A large one is hiring more faculty of color, especially women of color. WOC students will not feel as motivated to come to this school if they do not see people like them in these higher positions, and that just continues to hurt our diversity on campus. I also think the school could do more to make POC feel welcome on campus, whether that takes the form of funding and promoting cultural events or giving the CSD more space than just a tiny room in Campus Center, and actually listening to the critiques POC have about their experiences on this campus instead of trying to gloss over them. I think there are a number of ways to show the school actually cares about and values POC.
R: What are some things you do on campus that you think make the environment a more inclusive one?
MJ: I am a part of a few organizations on campus which I feel help make campus more inclusive. As president of the Hindu Sikh and Jain Association, I lead Diwali and Holi, both very well-attended by people from all demographics. As a member of the Association of Women Geoscientists, I have been very involved in the department’s attempts to become more inclusive. In general, I do my best to educate people rather than shutting them down outright when I’m asked about the various minority groups I identify as part of, and I think that helps promote understanding on campus as a whole.
R: Who is someone on campus you look up to, and why? What do they do that you think deserves commending?
MJ: Someone on campus that I look up to is Professor Linda Morse. She is in the geology department and has consistently been a positive mentor to me. I’ve worked closely with her, both as a grader and a TA for her lab, but she always makes it a point to ask how my day is going and how I’m feeling. When anything difficult happens at school, I always feel like I can talk to her. She also helps the Williamsburg community by leading a program where students go into schools to teach geology to elementary schoolers and being a Master Naturalist.
R: Any additional thoughts/comments you want us to know?
Sometimes it feels like the school or members of the school [are] only supportive of cultural events and only promote them when [they know they] can use it to draw new students and funding, but isn’t willing to deliver when those organizations and members of those populations are struggling.