Faculty Senate discusses DEI survey, faculty diversity, and anti-doxxing policy at final meeting of 2021-22 year
Senators heard a presentation on the qualitative results of the campus-wide DEI survey and a report on faculty gains and losses. The Steering Committee also reported on the Stanford Anti-Doxxing Policy.
In its last meeting of the academic year, the Faculty Senate took on a wide range of critical issues such as the Stanford Anti-Doxxing Policy, faculty diversity, and qualitative results of the campus-wide DEI survey.
The meeting mirrored many others throughout the year in which senators passionately discussed issues facing the university.
This year, the senate “had some intense debates reflecting our diverse range of perspectives,” said Senate Chair Ruth O’Hara. “But what we fundamentally saw here was the essence of senate governance, a good senate at work. When we tabled motions, we came back stronger and better for all the discussions and considerations we entertained.”
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne reflected back to a year ago when much of the community was still virtual.
“It’s really clear how far we’ve come. I’m so delighted that we can celebrate the close of another successful academic year,” he said in looking forward to Stanford’s 131st Commencement. Tessier-Lavigne thanked senators for their ongoing leadership in navigating the pandemic, supporting the community as it settles back into a more normal academic year, and allowing the university to advance its Long-Range Vision. He also expressed gratitude to O’Hara for her “leadership during this challenging year and her commitment to improving communication and civil discourse on campus.”
Provost Persis Drell told senators that this week the Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Oceans Department, which will develop undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability when it launches on Sept. 1. Also, the Energy Resources Engineering Department (currently within the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences) will change names when it welcomes new members and expands its scope and mission as the Energy Science and Engineering Department in the Stanford Doerr School in September.
Several trustees and incoming senators also attended the meeting, which was followed by a reception.
DEI survey qualitative results
Patrick Dunkley, vice provost for institutional equity, access, and community, presented on qualitative data from Stanford’s first campus-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion survey, which was released in late May. The presentation complemented one that he gave to the senate in January, which focused on the survey’s quantitative data.
The qualitative data included stories and quotes from thousands of university community members who shared their firsthand experiences with discriminatory, harassing, and other harmful behavior at Stanford. Dunkley was joined by Brian Cook, director of assessment and program evaluation, to discuss the results.
Many of the stories were ones of pain, frustration, humiliation, embarrassment, and anger, Dunkley said, and those included in the report are representative of hundreds of similar comments.
Dunkley asked senators to set aside at least an hour to thoroughly review the survey responses “with an open mind and an open heart.” While some might find the stories hard to read, he said, senators should consider how difficult it must have been to experience and share the stories.
“There’s a narrative in our community that faculty are less concerned about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging issues than our students and staff,” Dunkley said, adding that understanding this data will help understand that narrative.
He also encouraged senators to take advantage of educational opportunities such as the IDEAL Learning Journey and to participate in one of the focus groups that will be announced in the coming weeks.
Beginning this summer, community forums will also be held to discuss the survey results and next steps.
Faculty gains and losses
Significant gains have been made in increasing the gender diversity of Stanford’s faculty over the past 20 years, but progress toward increasing the university’s racial and ethnic diversity has been slower, said Matt Snipp, vice provost for faculty development, diversity, and engagement and the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences.
Snipp detailed changes in the composition of the faculty during his annual professorial gains and losses report to the senate.
Stanford’s professoriate reached 2,288 in 2021, including 1,559 men and 729 women.
Snipp’s report showed that 1,497 professors are white, 455 are Asian and Asian-white, 183 are members of underrepresented minorities (URM), and 153 are of unknown races and ethnicities. The URM category includes 109 professors who are Hispanic or Latinx, 52 who are Black or African American, 18 who are two or more races, and 4 who are American Indian/Alaska Native.
In the last 20 years, the number of female faculty members has risen from 22% to 32%. The number of URM faculty members has remained fairly stagnant, only rising from 6% to 7.2% in that time frame while the number of Asian faculty members rose from 10% to 19%.
Snipp also detailed trends in hiring and departures by gender, race, and ethnicity. Some communities, such as Asian faculty, are leaving in greater numbers than proportional to their population representation. Factors affecting faculty turnover include age and retirement; faculty recruitment; and those leaving for other opportunities.
Recruitment programs such as the Faculty Incentive Fund and Faculty Development Initiative are helping to drive diversity gains through hires and retention, but more is needed, Snipp said in advocating for more innovation in faculty searches. He cited efforts like ones undertaken by the School of Engineering and Stanford Earth as promising examples.
White men account for the majority of the older faculty, prompting some discussion of how to increase diversity of faculty while valuing the institutional knowledge and contributions of older faculty.
“Whereas I totally support Matt in trying to really change the demographic makeup of our faculty … I also want to acknowledge that many of our senior faculty are, in fact incredibly distinguished, great citizens of this institution,” Drell said. “And so it’s a delicate dance.”
In January, the Faculty Senate asked the Stanford administration to establish an anti-doxxing policy that protects students, staff, and faculty and is consistent with Stanford’s core values, and state and federal laws.
Doxxing refers to the practice of gathering personally identifiable information and releasing it online for malicious purposes.
The Office of the Provost created the policy, and the Steering Committee reviewed the policy document and believes it meets the objectives of the senate’s request, Mark Horowitz, the Yahoo! Founders Professor in the School of Engineering, said in his report to the senate.
The Stanford Anti-Doxxing Policy states that “every Stanford faculty, staff, or student who, with intent to place another person in reasonable fear for their own or their family’s safety and for the purpose of imminently causing that other person unwanted physical contact, injury, or harassment, by a third party, electronically distributes personal identifying information, which would be likely to incite or produce that unlawful action, has violated the Fundamental Standard and/or the Code of Conduct.”
The policy includes clarifications on various terms, including “personal identifying information” and “harassment.”
Further, the policy doesn’t apply in circumstances in which the conduct at issue would not be in violation of California penal codes or would “substantially chill protected First Amendment activity,” in violation of California’s Leonard Law.
In response to senators’ questions about how the policy may apply, Vice President and General Counsel Deborah Zumwalt clarified that the Leonard Law doesn’t allow the university to take action against students for speech protected by the First Amendment or the California Constitution. Further, it doesn’t matter if a statement is true but whether it is made with the aforementioned intent.
Under the policy, the Office of the General Counsel would determine whether applying the policy would be a Leonard Law violation after consultation with the provost and before any formal disciplinary process begins.
The Faculty Senate expressed support for a potential ad hoc committee that could consider issues raised by some senators in discussions around approved revisions to the Stanford Research Policy Handbook’s Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment policies in a split vote on June 2. However, the senate was unable to reach a quorum to vote on the matter.
A poetic tribute
O’Hara announced the incoming senate chair as Ken Schultz, professor of political science, and Deborah Hensler, the Judge John W. Ford Professor in Dispute Resolution, as vice chair. O’Hara also thanked senators for their tireless dedication and outgoing vice chair Mark Horowitz.
Senators in turn paid tribute to O’Hara’s service as chair with a lighthearted play touching on issues the senate addressed this year before reading “Politics” by William Butler Yeats.
In an administrative session held shortly before the meeting, the Steering Committee approved two items on behalf of the senate:
- The initiation of the data science minor within the Data Science Program with an authorization period from Sept. 1 until Aug. 21, 2027. The Committee on Review of Undergraduate Majors also endorses the Statistics Department’s decision to sunset its data science minor and its plan to stop accepting new students into this minor after Aug. 31.
- To retroactively apply a policy approved on June 2 to allow credit to be given for some military training and service work from Academic Year 2020-21 onward, as recommended by the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy.
In other matters, senators heard a memorial resolution for Gordon S. Kino, the W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus, and a professor emeritus, by courtesy, of applied physics. Kino died Oct. 9, 2017, at age 89.