This post is part of my post-tenure review. If it seems self-serving, that is because it is.
The two principles which drive my professional work are truth and fairness.
I remember after a particularly troubling departmental vote, a senior colleague attempted to assuage my anger at the department by explaining that “the world is not fair.” I hate this argument because it removes responsibility from those participating in such decisions, and places blame instead on a stochastic universe. And, while there is stochasticity in the universe, we should be working toward ameliorating inequities caused by chance, and in instances where we have agency, making decisions which do not compound them.
I do not think the department does a very good job at recognizing nor ameliorating inequities. Indeed, there are individuals, policies and procedures that negatively impact diversity. See my recent post Women & Men in Mathematics for examples.
My work on diversity and equity issues has been primarily through the University Senate and United Academics. As Vice-president of the UO Senate, I sat on the committee which vetted the Diversity Action Plans of academic units. I also worked on, or presided over several motions put forth by the University Senate which address equity, diversity and inclusion. Obviously, the work of the Senate involves many people, and in many instances I played only a bit part, but nonetheless I am proud to have supported/negotiated/presided over the following motions which have addressed diversity and equity issues on campus:
Besides my work with the Senate, I have also participated in diversity activities through my role(s) with United Academics of the University of Oregon. United Academics supports both a Faculty of Color and LGBTQ* Caucus which help identify barriers and propose solutions to problems affecting those communities on campus. United Academics bargained a tenure-track faculty equity study, and I am currently serving on a university committee identifying salary inequities based on protected class and proposing remedies for them.
I have attended in innumerable rallies supporting social justice, and marched in countless marches. I flew to Washington D.C. to attend the March for Science. I’ve participated in workshops and trainings on diversity provided by the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors.
I recognize that I am not perfect. I cannot represent all communities nor emulate the diversity of thought on campus. I have occasionally used out-moded words and am generally terrible at using preferred pronouns (though I try). I recognize my short-comings and continually work to address them.
There are different tactics for turning advocacy into action, and individuals may disagree on their appropriateness and if/when escalation is called for. My general outlook is to work within a system to address inequities until it becomes clear that change is impossible from within. In such instances, if the moral imperative for change is sufficient then I work for change from without. This is my current strategy when tackling departmental diversity issues; I work with administrative units, the Senate and the union to put forth/support policies which minimize bias, discrimination and caprice in departmental decisions. I ensure that appropriate administrators know when I feel the department has fallen down on our institutional commitment to diversity, and I report incidents of bias, discrimination and harassment to the appropriate institutional offices (subject to the policy on Student Directed Reporters).
Fairness is as important to me as truth, and I look forward to the day where I can focus more of my time uncovering the latter instead of continually battling for the former.