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Graduate Student Climate Check-in

We are once again reaching out to all CSE graduate students to have individual, face-to-face climate conversations. Please let us know your availability for a 15-minute check-in.

Whether you are pursuing a traditional master’s degree, a Ph.D., or are in our SUGS program, we will be checking in with you personally, via teleconferencing, to hear about your experiences with CSE and our graduate program.

This will be the second year that we have done this activity, and the goal is to support the success of all of our students, as well as bringing CSE’s culture more in line with our values. Both new and returning students are expected to participate. Not all students feel equally comfortable reaching out to us, so we want to make sure we reach out to you.

The check-ins will be conducted by Sarah Snay, a CSE staff member who is pursuing a master’s degree in social work and has over five years of psychology research experience, including coordination and management of seventeen Institutional Review Board approved human studies; she is not a mandatory reporter. The check-ins will not be recorded; advisors will not see any of the responses of their advisees; we will not ask any questions relevant to Visa status; and we will follow the standard IRB procedure of destroying any real name mappings after the analysis is complete. This activity was designed in consultation with Rackham Institutional Research. Only Sarah Snay, Michael Wellman, Jon Merrill (DEI Project Manager), and Westley Weimer will see individualized responses: the rest of the faculty will be shown aggregate information, following the successful model of the recent Climate Activities Survey.

Procedurally, each student will complete a brief pre-meeting form with scheduling preference information and some high level experience questions. Sarah or Jon Merrill will then follow up about scheduling a 10- to 15-minute check-in, and we’ll use the preliminary information you provided to avoid repeated queries and to ensure that the face-to-face time focuses on you. For students in exceptional situations we will schedule follow-on meetings to talk about resources or individual circumstances.

We are interested in learning about what it is like to be a graduate student here, as well as to identify students that might benefit from additional support. In addition, we want to assess how concerns raised last year are being addressed. For example, students have raised concerns about work-life balance, a missing sense of community, and a lack of access to faculty. Aggregate information about student experiences will help guide potential policy changes. More locally, we may not have made all students aware of relevant resources, such as new CSE graduate policies or the Engineering C.A.R.E. Center, and face-to-face check-ins will help us identify students who might benefit from follow-up information and support.

On a personal note, I have worked with Sarah and Jon extensively and I am fully confident in them, I believe open-ended check-ins are critical to a more proactive understanding of the issues facing CSE, I want us to reach out to everyone so that fewer students fall through the cracks, and this information really is used: your collective voices as graduate students are powerful tools in changing CSE for the better.

– Wes Weimer, chair of CSE’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee