Has your institution acted on any of your demands? Are there any positive outcomes you have had?
A: We asked for a DEI committee which would primarily prepare public reports containing statistics on representation and provide a report card of the department’s progress, and hold town halls to discuss them. The department has set up a “Climate Committee” (not the same thing, it has a much broader scope), but this Committee will hopefully carry out these two functions as part of its work. It is making slow but hopefully steady progress.
Has your institution flatly refused any of your demands? Are there any other negative outcomes you have had?
A: Our request to hire a coordinator for summer programs and a future Bridge program was refused outright citing a lack of funds. Our demand to scrap the GRE and include Black history at appropriate places in the curriculum was not taken seriously in the first meeting, but we have not taken up these issues seriously after that.
Are there other actions you are taking which are not specifically directed at your institute’s administration (eg. student-facing or community-facing work)? Would you like to share anything from these efforts?
A: We have a Slack workspace at UMD Physics which focuses on anti-racism efforts. We have maintained active participation from around 10 people, which is really encouraging. We are looking for ways to connect with other departments at UMD, many of which are doing similar work.
Are there any immediate priorities for the next 3 months?
A: The two immediate objectives are to publish the first “annual report” which is meant to be a stats database + report card, and to hold a town hall meeting to discuss the report. We also have a mentoring and research program called GRAD-MAP for students from nearby MSIs, HBCUs and community colleges. We are hoping to resume involvement from the Physics department in this program (currently, it is being run completely by the Astro department).
Do you require any assistance or resources in particular from the other members of PAARC at this point?
A: Hearing about other people’s achievements is always nice. Especially when they can be cited for our own benefit! So I’m looking forward to reading all your updates.