Our primary mission as Student Advocates for Diversity and Inclusion is to improve how our department handles academic and social diversity issues. We hope to increase the retention number of HUGs (historically underrepresented groups) in upper level computer science classes, as well as increase the number of students concentrating in computer science. We also hope to raise awareness of the issues that are ongoing in our department such as the lack of diversity among our TA program, which is the main source of instruction for our introductory classes. We hope that our initiative creates a more inclusive environment that allows students to thrive academically while also creating a diverse social atmosphere that is welcoming to all.
When students are in their roles as student advocates they are not required to share any information disclosed. They will not answer questions about people with whom they may have spoken, or disclose an individual's name or specific issue unless during the course of the discussion, the student advocate is given explicit permission by the individual to do so. The only exception to this is if the student advocate determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm. Student advocates will, however, keep statistical information for analyzing and reporting trends of issues, and provide recommendations to the diversity committee. Student advocates are not Title IX mandatory reporters.
The Student Advocates
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Afia Akosah-Bempah & Arman Deendar: In line with section 7.4 E K-12 Outreach: New or Enhanced Action of Phase II of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), this project aims to expand and consolidate the community outreach initiatives already taken by the department. Given the scale and access to resources of Brown’s Computer Science Department, the department has a great opportunity to serve and become accountable to local communities. We wish to implement a program that centers community needs for continued engagement and dedication of resources in Providence, Central Falls, and Pawtucket. In the short-term this involves beginning conversations with local community leaders, organizations, and educational centers, Brown CS stakeholders (faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and existing outreach groups, ie IgniteCS) and adjacent Brown community-oriented departments (Annenberg Institute, Swearer Center, Bonner Fellows, BRYTE). Then using information gleaned from these conversations to inform outreach initiative and policy proposals submitted to Brown CS
Valerie Aguilar-Dellisanti & Fernanda Chavez Zapata: The goal of this project is to create a resource for underrepresented communities in the CS department to connect with Brown CS alumni, create impactful relationships, and gain valuable knowledge. Building a database of underrepresented CS alumni is now possible given the increased number of diverse student that have graduated and will graduate from Brown University with a CS Degree. Mosaic+ is one of the largest reasons for attracting interest and retention in the department, as well as the creation of the Diversity and Inclusion student advocates. We aspire to use these programs to create a database of alumni in order to create a program like the Women’s Launch Pad or Women in Business External & Internal Mentorship Initiative. We would develop an alum mentor-student mentee program with guides, coffee chats and alum meet-ups during commencement.
Valerie Aguilar Dellisanti: Across campuses, students and their Computer Science departments have different approaches to improving diversity and support for their members. This project evaluates different policies, clubs and initiatives in different universities, both in Rhode Island and at other schools with top CS departments. Additionally, an emphasis is given to universities with high diversity and hiring rates, especially for HUGs. There are two main purposes of this study. The first one is to analyze how initiatives already taken at Brown are implemented somewhere else, identify key differences and similarities. The second goal is to identify good practices that could be replicated here on campus. Both of these goals will help improve and strengthen the impact of current initiatives. The analysis was presented at a Diversity Committee meeting in spring 2022, and best practices were integrated into the DIAP II Draft. The presentation can be viewed here.
Evan Dong: This project focused on the creation of an LGBTQIA+ umbrella affinity group, Spectrum. Growing from a queer mentorship program started last year, activities expanded to include partnerships with recruiters for career development opportunities, community-building events, and facilitated spaces for transgender students. With an eye toward sustainability, this year's activities focused on building capacity and leadership for future generations of LGBTQIA+ students in Brown CS.
Amal Dualeh: This project documents high level practices for supporting first generation/low income/undocu+ students (UFLi) who experience unique challenges coming into CS as an academic field and as a department here at Brown. The goal is to create programming recommendations focused on providing UFLi students in CS with spaces of community and support with other students of shared lived experiences. Elements of the report, which can be viewed here, were integrated into the DIAP Phase II Draft.
Charlotte Lee: My observation is that the student culture among the CS concentrators cohort is relatively homogenous in terms of background, academic interests, and career path considerations. In order to improve recruitment and retention of CS concentrators, I believe that we need to offer more interdisciplinary educational approaches or opportunities that cater to students who are not interested in working at big tech companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google). The goal of my project is to increase the number of opportunities for students who are interested in CS for social good. I believe that increasing the number of these opportunities will shift the student culture in a healthier, more inclusive direction by attracting a more diverse group of students, and allowing these students to pursue / integrate their other passions in the study of Computer Science. The plan is for this work to continue in 2022-2023 with the development of a "Socially Responsible Computing" opportunities/careers database, as Charlotte assumes a new role of IPP Ambassador.