Inclusive Astronomy Meeting Notes

Recent Meeting Notes

05/??/19: During our last few meetings of the semester, we individually completed the self-assessment rubric from the AAS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy Graduate Education. Our answers and group discussion notes are available on this google doc. Cells highlighted in yellow were the longest discussions, which perhaps need some action on our part next year.

04/11/19: Led by Julie. Final prep for our Pizza Lunch!

03/21/19: David: joined by faculty candidate Wlad, who helped write part of the Best Practices guide we’ve been working on this year. We worked on the pizza lunch talk, listing various items in the three phases described in last week’s meeting notes. Briefly mentioned moving the IA timeslot to Friday next year, to allow speakers/visitors to attend more easily. Wlad mentioned that NMSU is apparently not on the Campus Pride Index (, we should talk to LGBT Resources about this.

Action items: AAS self assessment rubric (on backburner until after pizza lunch?); please continue working on pizza lunch talk; put up your IA flyers if you haven’t already. I (David) will lead the next meeting.

03/14/19: Jodi; finalized the list of locations to hang the flyers, have divvied up the locations amongst those in attendance to hang the flyers during this upcoming week. We discussed the format/layout of the pizza lunch talk for LGBT+ inclusivity, to occur April 15. We decided to structure the talk into three phases: 1) things we’re already doing, 2) things we’re working on now, and 3) things we want to do in the future, plus an additional sneak peak into the next topic to be tackled by IA, mental health. Action items include reviewing the executive summary and/or original best practices guide to start filling in the three phases and adding slides/topics to the powerpoint.

03/07/19: Led by Annie. We’ve decided to hang posters in the following locations: at least one on each floor of the Astronomy building, the Corbett center, Frenger, the Physics building, BX, the library, computer lab in Harden, Thomas & Brown engineering building, the Garcia annex LGBT center, and science hall.  It sounds like we need to go to the front desks of the different buildings to get the flyers approved/stamps.  They will also get torn down at the end of each semester so we may have to go around and pick them up.  We began discussing how to break up the pizza lunch but we were almost out of time and we were cranky so we pushed that to next week.

02/28/19: Led by Julie, attended by prospective students! The bathroom sign job request has been submitted, and we are waiting for a response. Flyers will be printed next week. We have booked a Pizza Lunch slot for April 15 to present our summary of the Best Practices Guide.  We then presented our Executive Summary Document to finish our discussion of the Best Practices Guide. Next week, we will start on the pizza lunch presentation, and make a list of where we want to hang the IA flyers. Soon after, we want to fill out and discuss the Self-Assessment Rubric from the AAS Inclusivity Task Force Report. (CCD, 03/01/19: August 23rd colloquium slot booked and request made for Safe Zone presentation from LGBT+ programs office. Awaiting confirmation from programs office.)

02/21/19: Led by Jodi. Executive Summary is officially done, so we should plan to start going through it at next week’s meeting and start planning the Pizza Lunch talk (scheduled for April 15). We spent most of the meeting discussing the LGBT+ survey; the original intent was to send out a survey to all current students and past ~10-year alumni of the department to gauge the LGBT+ inclusivity of the department, and have results to show by the pizza lunch. We’ve decided instead to broaden the scope of the survey to all forms of inclusivity (racial/gender/ethnic minority, accessibility, LGBT+, etc.) as a way to determine the effectiveness of IA and how it has impacted the department since its inception in 2014(pretty sure?). SafeZone Training will likely need to be at the very beginning of the Fall semester, so at the next meeting we should pick a date and book it. (CCD, 02/22/19: work order being submitted for the ADA push button on SE entrance door).

02/14/19: CCD – Delayed discussion of Best Practices Executive Summary doc…AGAIN. Jodi obtained survey from Queer in STEM and compiled questions into a preliminary survey. Will send out to IA email list after a bit more editing. Safe Zone training presentation likely delayed until fall semester due to lack of open colloquium slots not scheduled during the VLA trip. Considering request to university for official signage indicating directions to the nearest gender-neutral restroom, but need to gauge faculty support. Will hang up paper signs in the meantime (after okaying w/Ofelia). Scheduling preliminary pizza lunch talk on the Best Practices guide for mid-April 2019.

02/07/19: CCD – Delayed discussion of Best Practices Executive Summary doc, discussed making Safe Zone Training request to LGBT programs office, hoping for a colloquium slot this semester. IAU is having events in support of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Groups can host satellite events. Jodi will prompt Queer in STEM organizers for their climate survey questions.

01/31/19: Led by Jodi. Discussed goals for this semester, including a pizza lunch talk highlighting accomplishments/future goals associated with the LGBT+ Inclusivity Best Practices Guide, and organizing a SafeZone Training. A few specific goals to be accomplished in the next few weeks include posting signage near the Astronomy restrooms indicating the closest gender-neutral restrooms, and conducting a survey of LGBT+ inclusivity/quality-of-life for students past and present. Those that attended were assigned a chapter in the LGBT+ Best Practices Guide to summarize for the group next week as we close out the document, and people were encouraged to skim the final section, 6.3, and any appendices/conclusions if desired.

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.