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You belong here: a message for students on the diversity survey results

an arcade at Stanford around the main quad, showing archways
Nov 17 2021
Stanford, Students, VPGE

Dear students and postdoctoral scholars,

We are writing to share our concern and dismay about the IDEAL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Survey results, shared in this message from President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Drell to the campus community. We know this is a very busy time of year, with the end of the quarter and winter holidays quickly approaching, and you may not have the energy or bandwidth to process these reports. We understand and will plan for more discussions with you in the new year.

Today, we want to thank you for taking the time and having the courage to share your experiences with university leadership through the survey. We are deeply distressed by the pain described by many members of our community, and we are sure you are, too. We would like to reiterate what the president and provost said: the harmful behaviors reported in this survey have no place at Stanford and should never be tolerated.

These experiences affect all of us, and must be addressed through action. The survey results give us a baseline from which we can measure future progress. We need to do more and do more quickly so all students and postdoctoral scholars feel welcome, safe, and supported throughout their education and training at Stanford. We want to be unequivocal: you belong here, and we need you to help us make this community what it should be FOR you.

This winter, we will take steps to directly address what we are learning from the survey results, which you can explore here. Meanwhile, we will continue working on a number of initiatives currently underway. We would like to thank every student who has been engaged in these endeavors. Your commitment and insight bring meaning and relevance to any progress we have made. These initiatives include:

  • Funding commitments for student communities and services: We are actively pursuing additional funding for our community centersethnic theme dorms, and the First-Generation and/or Low-Income Office, where many students find support and belonging. These efforts have resulted in endowed gifts supporting the Asian American Activities Center, the Black Community Services Center, and Ujamaa, and a soon to be formally announced endowed gift for Queer Student Resources
  • Protected Identity Harm Reporting: The goal of the PIH process is two-fold: to help students who have been affected by these incidents to receive a meaningful response and potential resolution, and to serve as a mechanism for data collection to develop a deeper understanding of our campus climate. Our hope is the process will create an environment where students who report harm will feel heard and supported.
  • Disability Task Force: Students, faculty and staff will consider ways to improve the delivery of federally-mandated accommodations, as well as other ways to promote equitable access to opportunities and enhance the educational experiences of students with disabilities.

  • Pilot program for students with disabilities: Partnering with students, the university is launching a pilot Disability Community Space, including hiring a graduate coordinator, programming, and a dedicated community space with access to a conference room and kitchen.
  • DEI training for staff and faculty: Over 200 staff participated in the summer 2021 pilot of the IDEAL Learning Journey, an intensive training to educate staff about biases, racism and injustice, microaggressions, diversity and social justice and how it shows up at Stanford. To provide similar resources for instructors, the Office of Faculty Development, Diversity, and Engagement has developed this toolkitonline training and pilot program.
  • IDEAL pedagogy project in the Center for Teaching and Learning: The IDEAL Pedagogy program provides a unified curriculum around inclusive and equitable pedagogy to represent all dimensions of diversity, promote student belonging, and equalize access for all students.

In addition, through IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in a Learning Environment), the university has initiated departmentalizing African and African American Studies, forming a Black Community Council, and launching a cluster hire for 10 faculty members whose work involves the effects of race on society in disciplines ranging from the humanities and social sciences to law and business to engineering and sustainability. The survey we are writing to you about today is also part of IDEAL.

In closing, thank you. We hear you and we are taking action. This is not a starting point or an ending point. This is a moment to take stock in exactly where we are now and where we need to go in the future. We know reading about this survey could cause hurt, frustration, and anger. Please know that there are many staff and resources available to support you. We need you as we build the community we aspire to become.

With appreciation,

Susie, Sarah and Stacey

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Sarah Church
Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Professor of Physics
Pritzker University Fellow in Undergraduate Education

Stacey F. Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs
Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering