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A letter from a student about Provost Gutmann's remarks on March 13, 2003

June 23, 2003

I was browsing the PAW website recently and came across something:

Provost Gutmann uses the following statement as a foundation of her reasoning when defending racial diversity in academia in her March 13, 2003 talk, "Why Does Diversity Matter?":

"3) It stimulates creative thinking by associating with people of different identities or upbringings who offer different approaches to problems, even in science and engineering."

I am an electrical engineering major planning on getting an applied mathematics certificate, and I find this statement ridiculous.

What is the Hispanic-American way to solve a differential equation? Or the African-American method of programming Matlab code? Or the Polish-American way of computing the residue of discrete singularities on a complex plane?

If any difference in mathematical methodology is present between students of different backgrounds, it is solely due to methods of previous teachers. A student's ethnicity cannot and does not determine the way he or she solves a math problem.

Tom Zychinski '05
Princeton University

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