More will be done to address gender harassment at the Allen School

Written by Maarten Sap, Nick Nuechterlein, Camille Cobb, Doug Woos, James Wilcox, Lucy Lin

We are a group of graduate students who are concerned about systematic diversity and inclusion issues within the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. The Allen School has the responsibility to uphold its commitments to diversity and inclusion, and the school leadership’s past silence in response to gender harassment (see a timeline of incidents here) contributed to a hostile work environment. In a recent op-ed (linked here), we expressed our concerns about the dangers of unwelcoming and toxic workplaces, and as academic student employee (ASE) members of UAW 4121, we also filed a grievance to ensure concrete actions are taken against this hostile work environment.

We are happy to report that the University has agreed to several of our grievance demands, including:

  • Providing intersectional diversity and sexual harassment training to both ASEs and supervisors of ASEs. Training will be advertised by CSE leadership, who will encourage everyone to attend.
  • Creation of a democratically-elected group of ASEs to regularly meet with Allen School leadership and make progress on: (1) conducting a school-wide Equity Survey and analyzing results from other relevant climate surveys; (2) constructively work on measures for supervision statistics; (3) discuss and implement protocols for better email listserv etiquette; (4) develop a process for TAs of all courses to provide (potentially anonymous) feedback about the curriculum, instructor, or other relevant aspects of the course they are TAing.
  • A group of (mostly senior) faculty will review the introductory programming courses to ensure that they are inclusive of students from all backgrounds. Input from relevant ASEs and other stakeholders will be actively sought out.

These actions are a significant step towards making the Allen School community more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive of minorities and other underrepresented groups. But, as the School grows, leadership needs to make sure these ideals remain a priority, and that the changes enacted today stay within the core mission of the school.