BIUST strives for inclusivity

Kabelo Dipholo
DISRUPTING THE STATUS QUO: Dr. Harper

The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) in collaboration with the US Embassy has made positive strides in creating an inclusive environment for both learners, staff and faculty.

BIUST invited decorated American Fulbright Specialist Dr. Andre Harper to give a public lecture on integrating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) into the BIUST student experience.

In his lecture Dr. Harper commended BIUST for being open to a conversation at a time DEIA is under attack particularly in the western countries.

“In some States laws are being changed, and for BIUST to be having this conversation today shows where they are as a university, and how important they are to the rest of the world,” Harper said.

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The distinguished University Lecturer in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Leadership Program at Tufts University, a prestigious research institution, said it is beneficial for organisations and institutions like BIUST to have a DEIA office with dedicated staff.

Besides recommending for the establishment of a DEIA Department, Dr. Harper further called for the development of a DEIA statement.

He said it was important to learn to incorporate DEIA in our everyday life, and to include those who are marginalised. “Ask yourselves what your privileges are, and what it means to the next person. Think about that and disrupt it,” he said.

He said in his research done in the university, a typical BIUST student is male, aged 18-22, Christian, STEM Major, Tswana with no disability. “Anyone outside that falls within the marginalised,” he said.

“Diversity doesn’t mean leniency, it means levelling up the playing field and giving everybody an opportunity.

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According to the BIUST Director Academic Services and Project Lead, Donah Lekwati, the initiative to pursue the project is the first of its kind in BIUST and Botswana.

Lekwati expressed hope that people will reflect on what DEIA means in their own contexts and be more aware of the role it plays in driving organizational performance and student success and take the challenge to integrate DEIA into their own contexts.

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