Members of the Cornell Center for Immunology share the international outrage sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police. This atrocity is just one example in the long list of Black and Indigenous men and women who have suffered the same fate over many years. These incidents represent a systemic problem and we recognize that, now more than ever, we must act within our individual and collective capacities to quell the inequalities that exist around us.
As scientists, we are members of our society and reflect the biases and systems that result in a paucity of diversity among our ranks. We are proud of our efforts to increase the racial diversity of our graduate programs but, like many of our peer institutions, we are less successful in ensuring the retention and well-being of our Black, Indigenous and other students and colleagues of color (BIPOC). The climate within our departments, centers and institutes can hinder the success of BIPOC and can make them feel as if they do not belong. Similarly, societal pressure, gender biases and toxic work environments play out against women in science and academia – their rate of advancement is low, and attrition is high relative to their male counterparts.
We need these inequities to change.
In order to be at our best, academic and scientific communities need marginalized and minority voices to make it to the table and stay there. The Cornell Center for Immunology commits to being part of this change.
- We will affirm at every opportunity that we are a community where everyone is welcome regardless of background, culture, ethnicity, expertise, gender, perspective, race, religion and/or sexual orientation.
- We will listen, educate ourselves, and act to support our colleagues of color. We commit to anti-racist principles within our labs, as articulated by the examples of Zamudio and colleagues, and Chaudhary and Berhe, among others.
- We commit to expose the Cornell community to diverse speakers by developing and supporting a seminar series that celebrate BIPOC and female immunologists.
- We will dedicate a portion of the Center’s annual budget to cultivate a career and professional development series that supports early career BIPOC. As part of this effort:
- We will provide access grants in order to improve access to academic and technique courses offered by the American Association of Immunologists and others. The development of this program will be one step toward supporting the career advancement of trainees underrepresented in science who are pursuing a career in immunology.
- We will engage with and provide financial support toward programs across Cornell including the Cornell Program for Achieving Career Excellence (PACE), and the Cornell University Initiative to Maximize Student Development that share our aim.
Change is as essential as it is difficult. It requires sustained and purposeful action. We will use our space to advocate and articulate our continued support for this effort. We do this because science is most successful when all feel welcome and supported, in our labs, and in our society.
Become part of this effort by reviewing Anti-Racism Resources and implementing anti-racist principles within your corner of the scientific community. The following resources have been curated from facultydevelopment.cornell.edu/anti-racism/:
- Faculty Institute for Diversity at Cornell University
- My Voice My Story (Cornell Graduate School)
- What I Learned About Being a Black Scientist (Neil Lewis, Jr., Asst. Professor of Communications, Cornell University)
- Asai, D. Race Matters Cell 754:181, 2020
- Asai, D. To Learn Inclusion Skills Make it Personal, Nature, 565:537, 2019
- Asai, D. ExcludedJournal of Microbiology Education, 21:21 2020
- Killpack, T.L. and Melón, L.C. Toward Inclusive STEM Classrooms: What Personal Role Do Faculty Play? CBE: Life Science Education, 15: 1 (2016)
- Cognitive Reserve and Racial Privilege in STEM by Mélise Edwards
- Gewin, V. The time tax put on scientists of color Nature 583, 479-481 (2020)
- Systemic racism explained (4 minute animated video)