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UC Berkeley – UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering Policy on Discrimination and Harassment

Racial discrimination and sexual harassment are contradictory to an inclusive academy and cannot be tolerated at any level. The Executive Committee of the Bioengineering PhD Program is fully committed to working with the Offices for Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination on each campus (as appropriate) to treat Title VI and Title IX violations with utmost gravity and will follow campus reporting procedures in such cases. Furthermore, the Executive Committee reserves the right to review faculty privileges of access to students on a case-by-case basis when concerns for student welfare are brought to our attention.

Ongoing discussion regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with the Department of Bioengineering

On 06/13/20, the Black students in the BioE program shared an open letter to the Bioengineering community with a their list of demands to address racial inequalities in the department. The original email is reproduced below:

Dear Bioengineering community,

Systemic racism is part of the creation and history of this country, and this is even reflected in our program. We - Nadia Ayad, Lindsey Osimiri, Devante Horne, Yasmin Graham, Kaz Lewis, Nathan Tessema Ersumo, Kwasi Amofa, Gretchen Ford, Jasmine King, Oluwaseun Adegbite and Daniel Gebrezgiabhier - come here collectively as the Black students in the BioE program to share our written list of demands to address racial inequities in our department. 

This moment requires decisive and prompt action. We urge program leadership to act on these demands, with a particular emphasis and importance on the accountability section. All of us crafted this letter, but we want to highlight endorsements from Prof. Aaron Streets (BioE/UCB), Prof. Grace O’Connell (MechE/UCB), Assistant Dean of Diversity D’Anne Duncan (UCSF), and Director of Graduate Student Outreach Meltem Erol (UCB). We also acknowledge input from Nicolas Altemose (BioE) and Carlos Biaou (UCB/EECS). We request an official item-by-item public response from the program by Friday, June 26th and an update by the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester.

To our peers, Bioengineering faculty and administration, we ask your help and solidarity in supporting these demands by signing the petition (link at the bottom of demands), and holding the BioE faculty, administration, and Executive Committee accountable. Vocalize and email your support to your PIs and peers. We ask that you engage in these conversations and that you do the work of researching how to help.

We also encourage you to sign and add your vocal support to the UCSF Black graduate students petition targeted at the Graduate Division and to the UC Berkeley accommodation letter sent by the Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students (BGESS) to the College of Engineering. We encourage faculty to email their support for both letters to their individual departments as well.

Finally, we also ask all of you to intervene in situations of racial injustice. Most of you are aware of what microaggressions are and how common they are in our program. Say something if they happen near you. Diffuse the situation. Document it. Offer to help.

If you didn’t before, you should now know the consequences of calling the police on a Black person. Here are some alternatives. Resist the urge to give into your bias in situations that cause mild discomfort. This is an opportunity for growth. Use it.

Nadia Ayad
Lindsey Osimiri
Devante Horne
Yasmin Graham
Kaz Lewis
Nathan Tessema Ersumo
Gretchen Ford
Kwasi Amofa
Jasmine King
Oluwaseun Adegbite
Daniel Gebrezgiabhier

Open Letter to the Bioengineering Community
UCSF Graduate Student Petition
Letter to Peers on Non-carceral Alternatives

On 06/30/20, the Bioengineering faculty leadership replied with an item-by-item response to the open letter. Read the letter here.

On 07/20/20, the Black students in the BioE program provided their input on the Bioengineering faculty leadership response. Read the response here.

On 08/06/20, the Bioengineering faculty leadership provided additional comments to the input provided by the Bioengineering community. Read the comments here.

What is #ShutDownSTEM and #ShutDownAcademia? Additional Resources for addressing racism in science:

#ShutDownSTEM, #ShutDownAcademia, and #STRIKEFORBLACKLIVES is the time for white and non-Black People of Color (NBPOC) to not only educate themselves, but to define a detailed plan of action to carry forward. Wednesday June 10, 2020 will mark the day that we transition into a lifelong commitment of actions to eradicate anti-Black racism in academia and STEM.

Read the AAAS CEO Statement on #ShutDownSTEM and Black Lives Matter (6/9/2020).
Read about how UC Berkeley supports #ShutDownSTEM and Black Lives Matter (6/9/2020)
Read the UCSF Chancellor’s Message on Addressing Racism (6/9/2020).
Read the UC statement on protests, violence following George Floyd’s death (5/31/2020).



DEC Literature for BEAST
List of anti-racist actions, learning, and engagement resources
Concrete Steps for Recruiting, Supporting, and Advancing Underrepresented Minoritized Scientists