Russ Nieli decries efforts by the molecular biology department (Campus Notebook, Dec. 14), from which I graduated 20 years ago, to recruit graduate students from underrepresented ethnic groups. I am a faculty member at a minority-serving university in east Los Angeles. Our students usually are the first in their family to attend college, work multiple jobs, have English as a second language, see few minority role models in science, and are under pressure to pursue more lucrative careers. Some nevertheless pursue graduate degrees in biology, showing the creativity and fortitude that are as essential as intellect for a lasting career in science. I’m proud the molecular biology department recognizes what such students bring to the table, and salute efforts to broaden diversity in the sciences.
Moreover, I’m sick of hearing from straight white guys outraged that someone, somewhere, has an advantage over them. Indeed, life is just not fair; the hegemony of wealth and power may hold you down, or efforts to fix centuries of discrimination may lift someone else up. My advice: Seek counsel from a friend who may be gay, female, non-Christian, or a person of color; I’m sure you will receive suggestions on how to cope with the unfairness of it all.