By: Neil Daniel | BSA '18
No student group at Wentworth has tackled issues of diversity and inclusion through the perspective of designers, until now. WIT NOMAS (Wentworth Institute of Technology’s Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architect Students) was founded to learn about the issues of diversity in the design world and exemplify championing diversity for our members. For a very long time, I didn’t even know that NOMA or NOMAS existed. I only knew of one nationally recognized architecture organization; The American Institute of Architects.
On a personal level, until I started college, I neglected to embrace my black identity. I fell into a trap that labels African Americans and other minorities with negative terms such as: low-income, unintelligent, violent, loud, ghetto, job stealers…and the list goes on. I didn’t want to be associated with these words. However, Wentworth’s staff and my friends provided an environment for me where I became more accepting of my own identities. By the end of my Sophomore year, I knew I wanted to get involved in our community and do my part in making a difference. The National Society of Black Engineers was an option but didn’t feel quite right as their events and opportunities were geared towards engineering and not design disciplines. A miracle happened when a Wentworth Architecture Professor brought up the idea of NOMAS to me. He explained that it is a national organization which is committed to “championing diversity within the design professions by promoting the excellence, community engagement, and professional development of its members.” Once I learned about NOMAS, my passion grew.
In our newly founded NOMAS chapter at Wentworth, we hope to champion diversity through both social and professional events and activities both within and beyond the Wentworth community. We are planning discussions about diversity in the design world on topics such as: Section 8 housing, gated communities, why there’s a lack of minorities in the design world, and our responsibilities as designers. We will teach how these issues came about in addition to brainstorming long-term solutions to our members. Additionally, we encourage our members to propose additional topics for us to explore. A large part of learning about issues of diversity is being able to expand our perspective beyond our limited experience and be open to the perspectives of other people and cultures. I have grown in that respect and I hope that many others will join me in continuing to do so.
We hope to collaborate with other cultural organizations at Wentworth, and already have plans to work with the Islamic Society of Wentworth in March on discussions and events based around Islamic culture. Before the end of the next school term, we want to host a colloquium involving all the diversity and architecture student groups to show how our interests, problems, and majors are all interconnected. We are also planning firm tours and other professional networking opportunities.
Within the United States alone, there are many sub-cultures of American life. People were raised certain ways. Their experiences and influences are so different from our own. We know that diversity is something that we cannot champion alone. It is integral to reach out to all facets of our community in an effort to exemplify the success and potential of minority groups in the design world.
WIT NOMAS will give its members many opportunities to connect with professional and student communities to create strong bonds that will help every member progress towards a more insightful, optimistic, and passion-driven future.