The "What If?" campaign was conducted by Community Council during the 03-04 academic year. Designed to raise awareness of issues, it presented questions such as "What if the next WPI president was a woman?" and "What if the only place of worship was a mosque?" These questions were (for the first few) accompanied by a poll on myWPI with preset responses. Results of the polls were then published in Tech News.
The campaign drew criticism from several quarters. Minority students accused it of trivializing legitimate issues. Other students said the poll responses were clearly biased in favor of certain replies, accusing the poll of using "pseudo-science for political gain." Others questioned the statistical validity, saying that such poor math reflected badly of a technical school.
Some responded by lampooning it. Fake questions such as "What if dinosaurs roamed the earth?" appeared on posters around campus. Tech News published a "Person on the Street" that gave a number of silly replies. And even the Class of 2004 Peddler featured an extensive parody.
The Community Council and the Office of Diversity Programs (formerly Office of Diversity and Women's Programs) continued to assert the positive effects of the campaign. To its credit, the "What if?" campaign was effective at being noticed and stimulated the debate. However, much of the debate was in the design and implementation, not over the content specifically.
- Calvin Hill, then the Director of the Minority Affairs Office (now Office of Diversity Programs), demonstrated his sense of humor over the subject when he appeared in the Tech News "Person on the Street" that lampooned his own creation.