Skip to main content

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion FAQs

Your questions about diversity at GSAS

Updated October 5, 2020

The following are questions about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Yale Graduate School taken from the December 9, 2019 GSAS Diversity Town Hall, and other student comments inquiries. We hope this will serve as an update to recent initiatives and activities. They are presented here in some cases as direct questions or summaries of issues raised by students.

Please submit any questions about diversity to

Campus-wide initiatives
Combining efforts and communication
Complaint process transparency
Departmental relations
Faculty diversity guidance
Funding for departmental diversity efforts
Office for Graduate Student Diversity and Development (OGSDD) expansion
Reese Report/AAU Climate Study
Student accessibility
Student attrition
Student dignity
Title VI and Title IX complaints and communication

Campus-wide initiatives

Office of the Secretary
The Office of Kimberly Goff-Crews, Secretary and Vice President for University Life has a five-year Belonging at Yale Action Plan for promoting a campus climate that reflects the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging for everyone. The university anticipates annual reviews of the plan in progress, with a mid-term overall assessment in year 2.5 to 3 to allow for course correction for the final two years. After that, a new plan will be launched.

Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)

CTL offers mentoring workshops emphasizing the benefits of diversity and strategies for inclusion. In collaboration with the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, it has reached approximately 150 STEM faculty at Yale. The Center provides pedagogical support to faculty through a suite of programs and resources, many of which feature effective strategies for inclusive teaching. This year, Poorvu is launching new opportunities and curating materials that emphasize antiracist pedagogy. CTL also offers a yearlong faculty seminar on Inclusive and Equitable Teaching.

Combining efforts and communication

Could GSA/GSAS put together some way for diversity committee representatives to come together and share resources? Could we have a diversity summit for Science Hill?

  • The Provost’s Office has an annual retreat for diversity staff across the schools to discuss and share best practices. We will suggest that the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) plan something similar at the student level.
  • The Annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education was regrettably cancelled this year due to COVID-19. This could be a great place to unite students at Yale and from institutions around the country to share ideas and best practices.
  • The GSAS has a new Communications Director. She is working on a communications plan that will include highlighting and promoting the work of the OGSDD, connecting with GSAS alumni, and highlighting the work of graduate students.

Complaint process transparency

What happens to faculty who are reported? What happens when a department or faculty member has faced multiple Title IX complaints? Is there some way to make the complaint process more transparent?

Departmental relations

Bringing up DEI issues with faculty can be very sensitive. How do we create the conditions in which these conversations can occur? And how do we come back from difficult conversations to carry on work as usual?

  • As the Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity and the Dean’s Designee, Dean Nearon should be your first stop to report any concerns or complaints.
  • Many departments have been creating diversity committees to help address internal issues. Dean Nearon has been working with them to develop program-specific diversity, equity, wellness and inclusion frameworks.

Faculty diversity guidance

The effectiveness of traditional training in promoting diversity has been found to be mixed at best. It is nearly impossible to guarantee adherence beyond the most basic requirements, serving the letter of the law rather than instilling the genuine desire for a consistent policy based on a moral good.

Instead, in concert with Dean Jeff Brock and Dean Larry Gladney of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), we enthusiastically support guidance, consultation, and collaboration as means to making our academic community a more welcome place:

  • In regular DGS meetings, my team and I reinforce the availability of university resources for graduate students. We also invite providers into meetings to lead information sessions on how graduate students may access what’s available to them. For example, ‘Let’s Talk About Race,’ a session led by Dean Michelle Nearon, was part of their annual retreat.
  • All faculty have hard copies of the Guide to Advising Processes for Faculty and Students and are instructed to make the guide available to students.
  • We work with individual departments to help them create department-specific advising guidelines and develop diversity strategic plans.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plans for the natural sciences and SEAS will be submitted to FAS Dean Larry Gladney by October 15.

Funding for departmental diversity efforts

Office for Graduate Student Diversity and Development (OGSDD) expansion

OGSDD needs to be expanded. Is it possible this could happen? And could there be office hours on other parts of campus (Science Hill, West Campus, etc.)?

  • The OGSDD currently consists of the Senior Associate Dean and 14 PhD graduate student fellows. There is a search under way to recruit a new Assistant Dean of Diversity. We hope to have the position filled November 2020. This search is going forward despite the current Yale-wide hiring freeze.

Reese Report/AAU Climate Study

  • Regarding the Reese Report please see President Salovey’s remarks regarding next steps here.
  • AAU Survey results have been broadly disseminated and the University Title IX Coordinator and the OGSDD met with the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) to discuss the results.

Student accessibility

What are the University’s plans around providing support and resources for graduate students with disabilities, including supporting Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and providing a support group for graduate students with disabilities or chronic illness?

Accessibility is a central component of belonging at Yale. The University is committed to supporting students with disabilities both at the individual and community level. This includes assessing and ensuring appropriate staffing levels and supports for Student Accessibility Services (SAS) as an integral part of Yale’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Accommodations are by their nature highly individualized, so any student with questions or concerns is strongly encouraged to connect directly with SAS, which can provide further information and support consistent with any student’s individualized situation and needs.

The Graduate Student Disability Alliance is a student-led affinity group for graduate and professional students who are situated within the broad Disability umbrella. The group’s website explains that membership includes, but is not limited to, Disabled students, neurodivergent students, Deaf/ hard-of-hearing students, blind students, students with chronic illnesses, students with mental health conditions, and other students who receive or would like to receive accommodations. The primary function of the Graduate Student Disability Alliance is to create a sense of community among graduate students with disabilities, advocate for members of our community, foster a sense of belonging on campus, and support our members while they navigate graduate school and beyond.

Student attrition

What is GSAS doing to address attrition from PhD programs, especially by students of color?

Transitions program (First-Year Experience):
While exciting, transitioning to graduate school can be daunting for new students. Transitions seeks to address students’ fears by providing tools and community support for successful matriculation and progress towards their degrees. The program seeks to address the challenges and insecurities students face, with the anticipated outcomes listed below. Specifically, participants should:

  • Gain an understanding of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ academic policies and procedures;
  • Develop personalized strategies for navigating departmental cultures;
  • Develop academic and social skills for effectively navigating academia outside of their departments;
  • Be able to identify personalized academic and professional goals while developing skills to accomplish those goals;
  • Be able to identify university resources available to assist with attainment of academic and professional goals;
  • Demonstrate an increased appreciation for diversity;
  • Have opportunities to connect with mentors and learning strategies for developing useful advising and mentoring relationships;
  • Explore academic career opportunities for scholars from diverse backgrounds;
  • Get connected to a community through involvement with an interdisciplinary cohort.

Workshops and programming in the Transitions Graduate Students’ First Year Experience are structured within five domains:

  1. Mentoring & Advising
  2. Academic Development
  3. Diversity and Personal Development
  4. Professional Development
  5. Social/Networking

Participation in Transitions is voluntary and spans the first year of participants’ time at Yale.

Student Dignity

Implementing some sort of way for students to reach out and find help when they feel that their dignity is violated is important. Are we doing enough to help students whose dignity has been violated? What do you do in the moment when someone is not respectful?

  • Anyone who feels disrespected by faculty or staff should reach out to their Director of Graduate Study (DGS) and/or Department Chair.
  • In regular meetings with DGSs and Chairs, the Deans will continue to reinforce the importance of respect in cultivating a healthy department climate. Similarly, DGSs and Chairs are prompted to be attentive to departmental issues and individual student concerns.
  • Your advisers have been reminded that students can reach out to them directly, and they should be prepared to address complaints with speed and transparency. Dean Nearon in her capacity as the Dean’s Designee is at students’ disposal to address matters related to harassment and discrimination.

Title VI and Title IX complaints and communication

My department has a climate and diversity committee, and a code of conduct for the department. Gender and sexuality issues are represented and addressed, but not race. The University has not created a Title VI office. Where do you go for racial discrimination/harassment questions? No one seems to know.

  • First, we have simplified complaint processes across the board. In all instances of discrimination or harassment, students may contact Dean Nearon, who serves as the Graduate School’s Title IX Coordinator and Dean’s Designee, and can provide guidance regarding issues around discrimination and harassment. Another good resource is the Office of Institutional Equity and Access.

You may also find these websites useful:

Resources for students to address discrimination and harassment concerns
Sexual misconduct response and prevention