This message was sent to College of Natural Sciences faculty, staff and graduate students at the semester's start.
A top priority of mine is for our community to instill in each individual member – student, staff or faculty – a sense that they are welcome, i.e., the knowledge that they belong and that their wellbeing as individuals matters a great deal here.
Last month marked the anniversary of the tragedy in Charlottesville that roiled another university town. It also brought the first start to a new academic year since the #MeToo movement made headlines around the world. If ever there were a time for approaching a new academic year with a reinvigorated commitment to furthering the respectful, inclusive climate that we want UT Austin to be known for, this is it. I feel confident you stand with me in this belief.
Whether we are students, staff or faculty members, this important work involves every one of us, so I urge you to recommit to doing your part. Here are some tangible ways to take action:
- If you see something happening that runs contrary to our values, please speak up about it. Bias and discrimination reports are made to the Office for Inclusion and Equity, and Title IX takes reports of sexual misconduct. Additionally, BeVocal, UT's bystander intervention initiative, offers trainings and provides an overview of where to go should you ever witness any inappropriate or troubling situation within our community.
- UT's Title IX office has begun a series of open workshops for supervisors and supervisees on UT's sexual misconduct policy, covering how to prevent and address issues in the workplace. All members of the college's leadership team are taking this training in the next few weeks, and I encourage others throughout the college to do likewise.
- The National Academies report that came out this summer addressing harassment in academic STEM programs points out many ways that our chosen fields can do much better. The College of Natural Sciences has four new liaisons for Title IX, trained to support members of our community in navigating the policies, processes and services available to Natural Sciences students and employees: Associate Dean for Graduate Education Dan Knopf; Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Nataša Pavlović; Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education Mike Raney; and Associate Director for Human Resources Patty Romano.
- On the College's Diversity & Inclusion website, you will find more resources and support to advance inclusion among staff, faculty, undergraduates and graduate students.
As we embark on a new academic year and introducing a new generation to the wonders of our scientific and mathematical adventures, I invite you to join me in affirming a simple idea to one another: Whomever you are, whatever your path to our diverse community, this is where you belong, and we shall unwaveringly stand with you.