Black lives matter.
The objective of this statement is to sketch how I anticipate I will address racial
injustices in higher education and to outline my anticipated shortcomings.
Actions I am Taking
In the classroom
The primary audience for this section is undergraduate students.
- No cop shit in the classroom.
I pledge to teach my classes from the perspective that everyone wants to learn and use their
time in my courses to do something they find fulfilling. I do not want students competing with each other, nor
do I want them policing each other. I will minimize proctored, timed exams.
I pledge to be transparent in my decision-making. Students should always feel free
to ask why a policy is the way it is. You may not like the answer, but I believe you are
always entitled to one!
I pledge to provide a variety of paths to mastery of the course material.
I will always follow up with students who are struggling.
I will not tolerate exclusionary behavior in the classroom, nor will I tolerate hyper-competitive
or aggressive behavior in the classroom. I will point out such behavior kindly, but firmly,
and will ask such students to remove themselves from environment.
I pledge to kindly discourage highly participatory students from dominating classroom
discussion (a form of entitlement), while gently encouraging those who participate
less to speak when they feel the desire to do so.
I pledge to strive for non-judgement in all other interactions with students.
- While disability affects all communitites, accomodations are not equally afforded.
I pledge to work, in consultation with CEMS TEACH
on using universal design
in my courses.
The primary audience for this section is graduate students.
- I will actively recruit graduate students from outside the usual pipelines and networks.
Prof. Brittany Johnson-Matthews and I
organized a PhD recruiting event in Nov. 2020 as
a step in this direction.
- I pledge to report on the percentage of my research funding that comes from private companies/big tech.
- If a company I receive funding from behaves unethically, I promise to publicly condemn their behavior (while also acknowledging that I receive funding from them).
- If a student does not wish to be funded via certain sources due to ethical reasons, I will work with the student to find a funding source that is acceptable to them.
- I expect all advisees to engage in service, especially those with greater privilege. Please see my longer statement on service from my advising blog.
- I will always share opportunitites will all advisees; I will not make decisions about what opportunitites are "appropriate" for students.
- I will encourage students to connect with relevant affinity groups (e.g. Black in AI, SACNAS, etc.).
- I strongly encourage research advisees to come to me if the research environment is hostile, toxic, or uncomfortable. Please see my longer blog post on this topic.
This section acknowledges shortcomings of the above approaches, in light of the current structure of academia.
Addressing them will take longer-term approaches and creative thinking. I hope to find means to address them
over time, and add them to the lists above.
As a new professor, there will be limitations to my ability to affect change, especially
in the short-term.
I am a person with baggage, flaws, and my own traumas that inform my reactions and worldview
in ways I am not always aware of.
We live in a society that often makes it much easier for me to choose an action that oppresses than to
choose an action that promotes equality. When this happens — especially for
seeminging "small" actions that add up — those most harmed are often not in a
position to seek restitution for harm done.
I have been inspired
by colleagues who work primarily with undergraduates: Profs. John Foley
and Cibele Matos Freire.
Additional thanks to Prof. Brittany Johnson-Matthews,
whose compilation of resources was very helpful for organizing my thoughts, especially
this open letter and associated
action item list. Finally, thanks to
whose radical re-envisioning of education (currently manifested in CodePath)
I've been stewing on for over a decade. Most of what I
believe can be traced back to conversations we had many years ago. See my recent
faculty application materials for a more narrative discussion of my
teaching philosophy and diversity, equity, and inclusion positions.