This statement on June 3, 2020 is from then SIPS director Christine Smart, the SIPS Executive Committee and Directors of Graduate Studies, detailis SIPS commitment to racial justice:
Dear SIPS Community,
Like many of you, I have been following recent events in our nation. I stand with the Black community during this difficult time. I personally have felt anger, sadness, and helplessness as the racial injustice we continue to witness has made many feel unsafe, stressed and traumatized.
I, along with the Executive Committee, and the Directors of Graduate Studies of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell stand in solidarity against all forms of racism. We condemn acts of violence and hate and commit to keeping our community safe and welcoming to all. We chose not to simply write a statement denouncing racism that will change nothing. Our community deserves better. We have a responsibility to effect change, oppose racism, and support social justice. We have challenged ourselves, as leaders of the School of Integrative Plant Science, to seed a culture of change. We have committed to the following actions:
- Work with SACNAS and MANRRS chapters to provide summer internships in plant science
- Follow up on the Diversity Audit conducted in 2017 to host listening tours with graduate students, faculty, staff and postdocs to identify barriers and remove them for a more diverse faculty, staff, and student body
- Continue funding of the Diversity Preview Weekend
- Host SIPS events, talks, training, community discussions around social justice
- Partner with Cornell AgriTech leadership to enhance diversity workshops and community discussions in Geneva
- Challenge each executive committee member to lead an activity surrounding social justice, anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion. We have devoted the July Executive Committee meeting to this discussion.
- Ensure that all members of SIPS know that diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity, and social justice are priorities for the School.
We urge each of you to take this time to reflect on racial injustice. Bring your ideas and passion and work with us to enable change.
Recent SIPS activities directed at enhanced diversity and inclusion in our community
- First SIPS Associate Director of DEI named: Chelsea Specht
- SIPS Chair of Diversity & Inclusion - September 2021: Tom Silva welcomed as SIPS Chair of Diversity and Inclusion
- Connecting in SIPS - August 2021: SIPS Diversity & Inclusion Council sponsors a discussion of Beronda Montgomery’s book Lessons from Plants
- SIPS Chair of Diversity & Inclusion - May 2020: Hale Tufan was welcomed as SIPS Chair of Diversity and Inclusion. In addition to serving on the SIPS Executive Committee she also serves on the CALS Committee for Diversity & Inclusion.
- Diversity Audit: 2017-2018 SIPS contracted with Gender at Work to conduct a gender/diversity audit to identify barriers to enhancing diversity in SIPS.
- Diversity Preview Weekend: introduces underrepresented minorities to our research programs the year before they apply to graduate school (News coverage: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
- 2021 SIPS Annual Report: See the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion section and appendix of the Annual Report for a list of activities by SIPS members
- Plant science outreach in the public schools: graduate students teach science to the elementary grades in Ithaca, Geneva, New York City
- Expanding your Horizons: graduate students, faculty and staff present lead workshops for girls in grades 7-9 (2020, 2017, 2016)
- Summer Research Scholars Program: providing undergraduate interns with the opportunity to work with faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and staff on laboratory or field-based research projects