Recently, we have been reading over the Nashville Recommendations and are exploring ways we can implement these recommendations in our department.
On March 9, 2015 our group gave a Pizza Lunch presentation to the department describing the status of underrepresented groups in astronomy, and all STEM fields, and detailed some of the issues working against the success of these groups. We covered 4 main categories: Unconscious Bias, The Confidence Gap, Microagressions, and Impostor Syndrome.
In March 2016 the astronomy department provided support for the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium at NMSU on Social Justice for LGBTQ* Identities in the Borderland.
In April of 2015, we conducted a Safe Zone Training within the department. A Safe Zone Training is an LGBTQ+ and ally education workshop designed to assist participants to become more aware of gender and sexuality issues. This training was intended to be a trial run, and was advertised primarily to the Inclusive Astronomy group. We had a great turn out!
We hope to provide approximately annual training opportunities to the department on several topics including Safe Zone, ADA compliance and assistance, Chicano students, and students of color.
We meet weekly to discuss current events and methods of improving department atmosphere for undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff. These serve as informal training opportunities on a broad range of topics for anyone who attends.
In the fall of 2015, we organized a meeting with Office of Institutional Equity Executive Director and Title IX Coordinator Gerard Nevarez to discuss the NMSU policy on reporting and investigating sexual harassment. This meeting was advertised and open to the whole department.
Starting in the fall of 2016, we will implement an Incoming Graduate Student Buddy System. This will pair an experienced graduate students with an incoming graduate students to provide assistance and advice for acclimating to the department, university, city, etc.
We have been exploring ways to reach out to our undergraduates and help them more easily access the information in their astronomy courses. Implemented improvements include a introductory worksheet to inform the instructor of the students’ needs and a new, lab specific course evaluation.