As we collectively mourn the ongoing violence against the Black community in our country, I wanted to stress that the Department of Physics remains committed to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.
The department strongly condemns racism and institutionalized racial violence and stands in solidarity with the communities and movements seeking to confront them. We echo the statements of grief and denunciation of racism recently expressed by the vice provost for institutional equity and diversity.
While it is important to recognize the events for what they are, and how racial inequalities have played a role in our world, we recognize that change needs to be made. This past school year, our department took two important actions which we hope will aid us in building a strong, supportive community.
First, we now have a Code of Professional Conduct that states that “everyone associated with the Department of Physics can expect a welcoming climate free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. All members of the department are expected to treat each other with professional respect and consideration to create a supportive and productive workplace.” To the Black members of our community: We see you, hear you and support you.
Second, our Town Hall meetings resulted in a recommendation that we form a Diversity & Inclusion Committee to proactively work towards these aims. This committee will be in place at the start of this fall’s academic semester, with membership recruited from faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate students and undergraduate students. We have also applied to have the department become a member of APS-IDEA, which would support the work of the committee.
The real change starts with your actions, including supporting our Black colleagues and friends, challenging those who practice injustice and naming injustice for what it is, engaging in peaceful protest, and supporting political change. This is a time for us to reflect and act. We must all work together to build an environment that supports people of diverse backgrounds, especially in STEM where there is still progress to be made.