Letter from STEM professors to Macalester STEM students

Letter from STEM professors to Macalester STEM students

Macalester STEM Professors, Contributing Writers

Dear Macalester STEM Students,

Thank you for voicing your concerns in the opinion article entitled “Open Letter: Improving STEM Equity and Accessibility.” We acknowledge the lack of support, belonging and inclusion that some students have experienced in our STEM community, and for that, we apologize.

We admire your desire to improve the experience of STEM students at Macalester. We applaud you for organizing your voices to provide constructive feedback, and especially for presenting suggestions about how we might address the issues you’ve raised.

The faculty and staff members of Macalester’s STEM departments are paying close attention to these issues and the suggestions that you’ve made. All of us share your aspirations to improve equity and inclusivity in the Macalester STEM community. Within and across departments in the Science Division, we are creating space to gather additional information, to craft holistic plans and to implement these plans in collaboration with you, our students. 

Each department has distinctive work to do as we consider your recommendations. All STEM departments have already met to discuss your letter and are formulating concrete steps for change. We also discussed your letter at our division-wide meeting on April 1. Here are some of the actions you outlined that we have already committed to:

  1. Representative tenured and tenure-track members of each department will attend Radical MacAccess events on April 13-16 as schedules allow. 
  2. Each department will create their own diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan and publish it on their departmental website. While these plans will not likely be finalized until after module 4 ends, departments have already begun this work in earnest. In the meantime, departments may also be in touch with majors to share specific immediate action items. 
  3. The STEM departments will convene after the end of module 4 to work on cross-divisional action items.  We expect this work to extend over many meetings throughout the summer and fall, with discussions focused on the pass/fail grading option for introductory courses, sharing best practices for inclusive teaching and departmental initiatives including strategies for community building, the roles and selection processes for department student representatives, and mobilizing funding to support DEI initiatives within and across departments. 

Please continue to hold us accountable and work with us in partnership as we make these critical and substantive changes to improve equity and access for all of our students and especially for our BIPOC, first-generation and (dis)abled students who most need our support.  

Sincerely yours,

John M. Cannon, Chair, Physics and Astronomy

Devavani Chatterjea, Director, Neuroscience Program

Kristi Curry Rogers, Chair, Biology 

Susan Fox, Chair, MSCS

Keith T. Kuwata, Chair, Chemistry

Roopali Phadke, Chair, Environmental Studies

Raymond Rogers, Chair, Geology

Jaine Strauss, Acting Chair, Psychology