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FAS Dean Claudine Gay Encourages Departments to Evaluate Internal Culture

Claudine Gay
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay encouraged FAS departments to conduct their own climate reviews after a Government department survey commissioned by a climate committee found lower levels of satisfaction and reports of discrimination among certain demographics of students, faculty, and staff.

The Government department Committee on Climate Change — formed last March after at least 20 women publicly accused Government Professor Emeritus Jorge I. Dominguez of sexual misconduct — sent the survey to Government affiliates in fall 2018 as part of their efforts to scrutinize departmental culture. In a Thursday interview, Gay praised the committee’s transparency and suggested that other departments administer similar assessments.

She said she was troubled with the survey’s findings that women and people of color, especially graduate students, “generally express less satisfaction with their experience in the department.”

The survey — which boasted a response rate of 72 percent among students — found that roughly a third of female government graduate students feel their work or study within the department is “limited” by their gender. Twenty-six percent of female graduate students reported they had experienced some form of discrimination.

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“Those aspects of it, as a faculty member, just give you pause,” Gay said. “It certainly feels like a call to action.”

Other FAS departments have also made efforts to “reflect on their overall culture,” according to Gay. Recently, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences surveyed its students on their experiences studying and working in the school, and multiple departments have launched mental health surveys of their graduate students.

Gay said departments that have not yet conducted internal reviews could stand to gain “a lot” from undertaking such appraisals.

“For departments that have not taken a moment to take stock of their climate and culture, I think it would be great,” she said. “I think a lot could be learned, and I would not be surprised if, on balance, you know, most departments find what the Gov department finds.”

“So not just run a survey for the sake of running a survey, but actually learning something that will then inform what you do next in your department,” she added.

Gay said FAS is prepared to provide any resources departments need to launch their own climate reviews.

“The most important resource behind this is the will to do the work,” Gay said. “That really is the most important resource, and these are not financially costly undertakings, they really aren’t.”

— Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at jonah.berger@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jonahberger98.

—Staff writer Molly C. McCafferty can be reached at molly.mccafferty@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter at @mollmccaff.

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