Inclusive Astronomy Meeting Notes

Recent Meeting Notes

11/16/18: Led by Julie. Discussion on sections 6.1 and 6.2 of the Best Practices Guide. We talked about writing a potential survey to send to current students and recent graduates to gather information about the inclusivity climate of our department, potentially based on the Queer in Stem study. We would implement this survey with all of the recommendations in the Best Practices Guide – send to all students, keep answers anonymous by carefully wording questions (particularly important because of how small our department is). Jodi will make a google doc to start compiling thoughts. We also talked about being an advocate and trying to boost communication of our IA group with other groups and committees around campus – particular interest in inviting the new diversity dean/provost/person to an IA meeting, learning about what they do, and potentially bringing up issues we feel need to be addressed on a University-wide level. On the same subject, us students should make sure to ask the new professor job candidates about their stances on diversity during the hiring process/visits/colloquiums next semester. Part of the job application is a Diversity Statement, so they should be well prepared with an answer. Other discussion about the possibility of creating an award for outreach & inclusivity efforts. The last section we read (6.2.4) is full of some very sad and shocking statistics.

11/15/18: Led by David. Topics of discussion included the Star Trek movies, Sean Connery’s immortality, Jake Gyllenhall != Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Detective Pikachu, and the change in Leonardo diCaprio’s puffiness over time.

Actually productive discussion included Jodi printing Inclusive Astronomy flyers; it was suggested that we wait for the beginning of the next semester to print them in case the meeting time changed, although we all agreed that 4 PM on Thursday is a good time. We then discussed the end of chapter 5 of the Best Practices guide, focusing on hosting inclusive conferences and meetings. Of particular note, we should make sure to post signs indicating the nearest gender-neutral bathrooms (in BX). We also discussed housing at APO; the housing application only allows the choice of either Male or Female, which is not ideal. The observing building’s restrooms, being single-occupancy, are gender-neutral already. We mentioned the possibility of hosting a colloquium by a scientist specifically about their inclusivity work at their institution. Next time, we will start Chapter 6!

11/01/18: Led by Julie (again)! Discussion about finalizing the flyer and creating our new webpage. Our statement/flyer should be front and center, and we should have (up-to-date) highlights about our past achievements and current projects! Chapter 4 of the Best Practices Guide deals with hiring and promotions – which includes graduate student admissions. Be aware of implicit biases (offer training if you can), use last names/neutral pronouns during the application process, and know University policies on family leave, dual career couple resources, and so on. Action items: Minje will create the “Inclusive Astronomy” page on the website. Annie will create a draft for the text on the website.

10/25/18: Led by Julie! Started with discussion about the Letter of Solidarity from the astronomy community in support of LGBTQIA+ individuals, inspired by recent events. Also discussed the IA Flyer, which is still in the works – we need to finalize a URL for our new non-calendar webpage before we can proceed to printing. Finally, we discussed Chapter 3 of the Best Practices Guide, on “Mentoring and Advising.” Be aware of the challenges that LGBT+ students face, and be sure to provide opportunities for discussion as often as possible (i.e., ask about preferred pronouns when approached to write a letter of recommendation, discuss climate during otherwise research-focused meetings). We also talked about starting a “peer observation/evaluation” program for TAs (next semester?), providing feedback for improvements within the classroom.

09/28/18: Began discussion of Chapter 2 of the LGBT+ Inclusivity Guide, finished with Section 2.3.2.  It was brought up that we may want to give a spiel about our IA group to the undergraduate astronomy club, and the plan is to inform them at their next meeting (10/02) that it will be on the agenda and to give said spiel on 10/09.  Content of the spiel has yet to be decided. Many items in Guide sections 2-2.3.2 are already addressed at NMSU, but it was mentioned that we should perhaps standardize the pre-course survey used by many TAs and faculty and ensure that results are being made available to TAs on Canvas. Further, the planned TA bootcamp should cover suggested syllabus material for labs. Lastly, an anonymous “Suggestions” form of sorts should be added to the NMSU astronomy site so that people can anonymously draw attention to any issues they may be experiencing.  Caitlin will have a draft prepared for the next meeting.  Action items: Read remainder of Chapter 2 of the Guide. – CCD

09/13/18: David DeColibus led this meeting. We discussed the first half of section 1.4 of the LGBT+ Inclusivity Guide, and Jodi presented a draft of an “inclusivity” flyer to post around the department. We considered the use of the rainbow flag in the flyer and how to make it clear that inclusivity includes minorities other than just LGBT+ people; we proposed the use of the rainbow flag with the black/brown stripes. We also reaffirmed our intent to lead a Safe Zone training this academic year, and discussed the possibility of a designated ‘diversity liaison’ faculty member or committee. Sean suggested an anonymous comment box or website form as an alternative. Additionally, we revisited the topic of gender-neutral bathrooms; currently, the closest gender-neutral bathroom is in the Biology Annex. It is also noted that the upstairs bathrooms in the Astronomy building are not ADA-accessible. Next week we will continue discussing section 1.4.

08/30/18:  Honorable Drudge Caitlin (CCD) presiding. Group discussed Sections 1.1 and 1.2 of the LGBT+ Inclusivity Guide, getting up to subsection 1.2.3. Noted that we can help normalize the declaration of pronouns by including them in our email signatures and on our department webpages and are considering encouraging their use at AGSO. Discussion of setting up another Safe Zone training or another pizza lunch at the end of the academic year, fulfilling one of our commitments in the Nashville Recommendations. Also considering making a quick-reference sheet for choosing inclusive language, started by Minje (see working draft here). Action items: Read document up through Section 1.3, and be prepared to discuss remainder of 1.2 and entire 1.3 next week.

08/23/18:  At the first meeting of the new academic year, we began with a brief introduction of the group itself and discussed our motivations for joining the group and what we hope to accomplish in the future. Accessibility to the campus observatory was revisited, and we discussed how the gate code would be distributed and whether there was anything the university could do to ensure the domes are ADA compliant. We began introducing the LGBT+ Inclusivity Best Practices Guide and agreed to read through chapter 1.2 for next week’s meeting.

Meeting notes from 10/05/17 through 05/03/18 have been migrated to this Google Doc.


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