In my June 2020 Dean’s Message to our graduate student community, I promised that by the end of July, the Graduate Division would announce a set of concrete efforts to change the status quo and move us toward becoming the anti-racist, truly inclusive institution we need to be.
Toward this goal, I and a group of Grad Division staff convened a working group to meet with Black graduate students to hear their concerns and their suggestions. We know from past climate surveys and reports that these are not new issues and that they have been raised at many levels for many years.
Using what we heard in that forum, together with what other students and departments have shared with us in the past, and the recommendations of the Graduate Diversity Task Force, we worked to co-create a set of concrete initiatives, focused on areas within our purview, that would begin to address Black students’ needs.
These four initiatives are not an endpoint, but rather what we hope is the beginning of an iterative, co-constructed effort to change the climate on our campus for the better.
Graduate Division Anti-Racism Initiatives for Fall 2020
Office for Graduate Diversity —
Diversity & Community Fellows Program
We frequently hear that Black students are unfairly expected to do the work of anti-racism, without being recognized or compensated. This new annual Fellows Program, run by the Office for Graduate Diversity, will award 15 one-year fellowships, beginning in fall 2020, to graduate students. Diversity and Community Fellows will receive a stipend of $7,500 per academic year to help advance anti-racism efforts at UC Berkeley. Fellows will participate in diversity recruitment, departmental climate workshops, help implement the Diversity Task Force Recommendations, and will engage in peer mentorship, including training department liaisons with a specific focus on restorative justice.
Graduate Diversity Pilot Program
In order to better equip departments and faculty to tackle issues of diversity in their programs, we are funding a new pilot program. Starting in fall 2020, these Graduate Division grants to departments will provide funding for training, tools, and programming for graduate students, faculty, and staff to raise awareness of issues of bias, foster healthy and respectful departmental climates, and advance equity, inclusion, and diversity.
Of the 25 graduate programs that have expressed interest in applying, nine will be selected to receive up to $175,000 over four years from the Graduate Division (for a total investment of $1,500,000).
Supporting Climate-Related Programs Across Campus
We also remain committed to collaborating with other units on larger structural changes.
As an example, the Graduate Division is partnering with Berkeley Engineering’s Empower program to help them expand their programming to more departments and to develop new workshops to advance anti-racism and improve the climate on campus.
Annual Awards in Recognition of Institutional Change
In direct response to Black students’ requests, the Graduate Division will establish an annual award to graduate students acknowledging significant work in creating and/or facilitating anti-racism initiatives within their programs or in support of fellow graduate students. Candidates can be peer- or self-nominated. We will give up to five awards per year. Award recipients will receive $2,500 and be acknowledged in Graduate Division campus-wide communications.
The Grad Division will begin accepting nominations in spring 2021 and award recipients will be announced in fall 2021. We are currently working to finalize the details of this award and will send an announcement when more information is available.
It’s important that our efforts have a positive impact and that we be held accountable. On this page you will find regular updates as to our progress on these four initiatives, and we encourage your feedback.
Our Broader and Ongoing Efforts
These initiatives and programs are an initial step. We appreciate that these efforts do not address the whole of Black students’ experiences and what we are hearing. Black and minoritized graduate students have numerous other concerns around bias, anti-Blackness, injustice, and inequity — and so our work to combat systemic racism will continue to evolve and grow.>/p>
A key leader in our efforts will be Denzil Streete, whom we welcomed to the Graduate Division on July 27th. Taking on the combined role of Chief of Staff and Assistant Dean for Graduate Diversity, Denzil will ensure that we use an equity lens in decision making and in our work throughout the Graduate Division.
In addition to overseeing the Office for Graduate Diversity and helping manage the development and implementation of our anti-racism initiatives above, he will be rolling out training for Graduate Division staff and our graduate programs to increase our anti-racism efforts and cultural competencies. He also will work with our partners across campus who facilitate vital support for our Black graduate students and will be co-leading the implementation of the Graduate Diversity Task Force Recommendations.
Our overarching vision in the Graduate Division is to not only expand the diversity of the graduate student body at Berkeley, but also to ensure that our Black and other underrepresented graduate students have the tools, resources, and community of support they need to thrive in their graduate studies.
There are issues beyond what is mentioned here, such as concerns around policing. Know that we are continually working to elevate these and other critical concerns, advocate on behalf of our Black graduate student community, and make change where we are able.
These initiatives, and others we will seek to roll out in the semesters ahead, are meant to complement the anti-racist work that is being done every day on this campus and which, too often, has been led by our BlPOC students. Our efforts have been informed by their brilliance, innovation, and commitment. But we know we have far to go and are committed to using your feedback to inform and transform our efforts. It is with humility and respect that we take on this work; we therefore ask for your engagement and partnership. Without them, we cannot be successful.
Denzil, myself, and all of us in the Graduate Division welcome and encourage your ideas and input as we work together toward this goal. Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas in this Google form.
We have also created a new Twitter account to share updates and hear your thoughts. Follow us @grad_diversity!
Lisa García Bedolla
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division
Graduate Division Chief of Staff and Assistant Dean for Graduate Diversity