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Editorial: Ally Week: A critique of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the Carlson School

The Carlson School’s Ally Week was tone-deaf and did not represent the very students they were attempting to uplift.
Image by Sarah Mai

Two weeks ago was Ally Week at the Carlson School of Management on the University of Minnesota’s campus, raising numerous concerns from marginalized groups at the school. Looking further into the description and information about this week, it proved to raise more concerns than answer them.

The planning committee involved in creating Ally Week was a group of only staff — nine out of 12 being white, middle-aged women. Not only did the committee not reflect the student diversity at Carlson, but it left students completely out of planning a week made for them. The inclusive environment they tried to foster was thwarted by staff dedicating one week to celebrating all minority groups.

If this were an event put on by a school that believes DEI is a priority, it may be a celebration of the efforts made by marginalized individuals.

However, the idea of this as a blanket fix is not something that I was happy to see that Monday morning. The events put on for Ally Week included, and are limited: to coffee and morning treats being handed out to students and a few guest speakers coming to talk to students and faculty about different sectors of DEI groups.

I attended the first Coffee Chat event and heard people making fun of becoming an ally. The very event attempting to create an inclusive environment made me feel unwelcome immediately. In addition to the uncomfortable environment, it feels as though these events are attempting to provide compensation for the minimal efforts made to promote diversity and inclusion the rest of the year.

The rest of this essay serves as a snippet of my life at the Carlson School, as a queer minority student and the ways in which this school fails marginalized groups. My critique on Carlson’s efforts is not meant to bash the school but serves as a call to arms about how students, faculty and staff should start creating and fostering a truly inclusive environment.


Walking into my classes at the Carlson School bear more weight than classes sponsored by the other colleges. Feeling less included comes from many factors but most importantly, the lack of space for my thoughts to be acknowledged.

Although I do speak up in some of my classes, I feel as though some of my ideas are not welcome — as they often challenge the large corporations we study. As I want to point out the injustices in the business world, many people disregard my comments and professors often do not add onto my ideas. There are some people in my classes that agree with me, however, as time progresses in my major.

 I am taught to keep human rights and environmental issues as a side-subject to the strategies we are learning. 

A difference with the Carlson School than that of other colleges at the University is the fact that we are not asked to share our pronouns. This has been a hard topic I have had to dwell on for the last three years at the Carlson School, as I feel as though my true identity is not welcome in the business world.

It took me two years to even feel comfortable putting my pronouns on my Canvas profile — trying to figure out if I would be judged or left out of groups because of my identity. I still do not share my pronouns in class, as I have never been asked and believe it may affect my performance in groups or in discussions.

The idea of sharing pronouns is so insignificant to some people but can be the determining factor between an inclusive environment and an uncomfortable one for many. 

Social environment

Many people have found their place at this school, but in my sixth semester at Carlson, I am still stuck not knowing where I fit in. The social environment for minority students at the Carlson School is a balancing act, trying to balance your own values, beliefs and identity with the search for friends, who are most likely ignorant to the struggles confronted because of one’s identity.

As I tried to share my concerns about Ally Week with other students at Carlson, no agreement or contribution to my ideas were made, leading me to believe I am more judged than ever by my Carlson peers. As I am aware there are others who identify as something other than straight and white, I am left not knowing who I can trust or confide in about my concerns. 

Feeling unwelcome in the very institutions set up to provide inclusion provides ample evidence the Carlson School was set up by those in power and intended for those in the majority.

The mere thought that money can solve these issues is very Carlson in and of itself, revealing the mindset it teaches all its students. Although I put this upon myself by pursuing a business major, I did not realize the level of exclusivity I would be confronted with.

Ally Week was created to help me feel included, but left me with more frustrations than ever about the Carlson School.

Evyn Bishop (she/they) is a queer student at the Carlson School of Management studying Management Information Systems, International Business and Spanish.

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