Home > Academics > Graduate Student Climate Check-in

Graduate Student Climate Check-in

We are once again reaching out to all CSE graduate students.

Whether you are pursuing a traditional master’s degree, a Ph.D., or are in our SUGS program, we would like to hear about your experiences with CSE and our graduate program.

This will be the third 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. Following feedback from students, this year we are reaching out to do face to face check-ins with new students only, and will instead use survey check-ins with returning students.  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 has a master’s degree in social work and has over six years of psychology research experience, including coordination and management of more than twenty Institutional Review Board approved human studies. She is an Individual with Reporting Obligations. 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, Taj Williams (DEI Project Manager), and Westley Weimer will see individualized responses: the rest of the faculty will be shown aggregate information, in the format of this previous report from this activity

Procedurally, all students will complete a brief form with high-level experience questions. For new students, Sarah or Taj 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 (such as funding for community-building activities and advising training for faculty). 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 check-ins will help us identify students who might benefit from follow-up information and support.

On a personal note, I have confidence in this process: we have carried it out multiple times and I believe open-ended check-ins are critical to a more proactive understanding of the issues facing CSE. I want us to reach out 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