CoSTEM Diversity & Inclusion Statement
We the people of the College of STEM maintain a collegial, inclusive, and equitable environment; foster different ideas; support those with different abilities, backgrounds, and needs; and ensure that college activities are open to all students, faculty, staff, and visitors regardless of abilities, age, creed, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, race, or religion. Diversity and diverse perspectives are invaluable in teaching, research, and service and we will not tolerate any form of racism, discrimination, or prejudice. We will conduct ourselves in a professional manner as we prepare our students to thrive in a diverse and inclusive community and treat everyone with dignity and respect.
We recognize that the makeup of faculty and staff in our college does not reflect the community we serve. In 2020-2021, 41% of students across campus (44% in the college) self-identified as persons of color, while only 23% of our faculty and staff identified as persons of color. Thirty-nine percent of faculty and staff in the college identified as female, while across campus 62% of students (46% in the college) identified as female. These imbalances in representation are barriers for students who are not able to identify with their mentors and can be severely detrimental to the educational experience of our students. We recognize that our imbalances are not unique within STEM disciplines nationally and there are discipline-specific variations; however, that does not release us from the need to work deliberately and actively to recruit and retain faculty, staff, and students from underrepresented groups. Our goal is to continue to shift this imbalance in order to be more reflective of the community we serve. We recognize we also need to do better at collecting and presenting demographic information of our faculty, staff, and students in order to determine progress towards this goal to develop an inclusive and equitable environment for all individuals. For example, the binary gender choices of male and female are limiting and can be easily expanded to include nonbinary, genderfluid, genderqueer, and agender choices.
We recognize barriers, such as inequality of, and access to resources and lack of peer support, exist in society and in our college that disproportionately hinder students from underrepresented groups. We stand with all groups and individuals working to condemn all forms of oppression. We acknowledge we need to do better in addressing these inequities, and in order to do so commit to the following actions:
- Continue the CoSTEM Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which will have at least one representative from each department. This committee will provide oversight for these actions, collect and analyze data to continually monitor APSU CoSTEM climate, annually evaluate the progress of these actions as well as the overall statement, and seek and discuss future actions to further a collective college-wide effort towards institutional change.
- Be receptive to change and educate faculty and staff to act as advocates for students, especially when student safety is a concern.
- Continue CoSTEM Conversations, a forum that will include opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to share their stories, concerns, and ideas to facilitate open conversations that lead to change.
- Feature one or more speakers in STEM from underrepresented groups in their respective fields.
- Continue to educate APSU CoSTEM faculty, staff, and students, through training, reading, listening, viewing and discussing materials on topics including systemic racism, ethnic oppression, and gender equality. This will be highly encouraged of all members of CoSTEM, including linking relevant materials within courses, participating in small group discussions, and providing resources for self-education.
- Provide pedagogical resources that foster a diverse, inclusive, and equitable learning environment for all students. These resources will be available in the College of STEM course in the University’s Learning Management System, D2L; all CoSTEM Faculty and Staff will have access. Resources include understanding implicit biases, ideas for incorporating diverse perspectives, and writing syllabi that are more inclusive.
- Actively recruit and intentionally work to retain faculty, staff, and students from underrepresented groups.
- Collect and openly present demographic data of APSU CoSTEM faculty, staff and student populations. Members of the CoSTEM Diversity and Inclusion Committee will work to determine additional data collection needs, and the best methods for data collection and analyses.
- Continue to support scholarships that are specifically for students from underrepresented groups and encourage students to apply.
- Support APSU’s mission of “Promoting equal access, diversity, an appreciation of all cultures, and respect for all persons” and the goal of Diversity in APSU’s strategic plan, which means the “University seeks to build a climate of inclusion that will facilitate access and foster enrollment growth and student success”.
If you encounter discrimination or harassment please contact a trusted faculty or staff member, or contact the APSU Office of Institutional Culture.
- Formed the CoSTEM diversity & Inclusion Committee, which has its first meeting in September. There were 21 members with faculty from all nine CoSTEM departments and the library. Three subcommittees were formed to address various aspects of our we will statement: CoSTEM Conversations, Data Collection & Analyses, and CoSTEM Learns.
- Held two CoSTEM Conversations via zoom, one each semester:
- "Amplifying APSU", which featured a panel of eight students discussing their views on inclusion, positive and negative experiences, and ideas for change. All CoSTEM faculty and staff were emailed a list of actions they could take to make their classroom/environment more inclusive, as well as student perspectives from this CoSTEM Conversation.
- "Black Excellence; Breaking Barriers", which featured a panel of students and faculty discussing their ideas and experiences both on-campus and in the community.
- Designed a student survey to collect demographic and inclusion data, which is ready for review and implementation during the 2021-22 academic year.
- Safe Zone Training was held virtually for CoSTEM faculty and staff in January 2021. Seventy members attended the training.
- We hosted three CoSTEM Lecture Series speakers, and all were from underrepresented
groups in their disciplines:
- Dr. Kemba Marshall, Director of Veterinary Services at Land O'Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center, "A how to guide for systemic success"
- Dr. Dave Kung, Professor of Mathematics at St. Mary's College of Maryland, "Closer to fair: Mathematics & social justice"
- Dr. Nia Morales, Assistant Professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and COnservation at the University of Florida, "Using human dimensions to enhance natural resource decision-making"