Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Departmental of Structural Biology is committed to racial justice and equality and rejects any forms of racism or bigotry within or outside of Stanford. The recent killings of George Floyd and others and the ongoing protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have once again highlighted how far we are from achieving a racially just society. In its responses to these current events, President Tessier-Lavigne and the University leadership have reiterated the University’s commitment to supporting the Stanford Black community and “to create an inclusive, accessible, diverse and equitable university for all our members.” The Black student and postdoc community has published an open letter to President Tessier-Lavigne outlining their experiences and action items for change. Stanford magazine also recently republished a 1992 Daily article from Cory Booker (‘Black Male: Guilty Until Proven Innocent’) that is as poignant today as it was nearly 30 years ago. As part of our response, we have formed a new Departmental committee on diversity, equity and inclusion that will play an important role in guiding Departmental actions to address these issues moving forward.

Our primary focus is the pursuit of scientific inquiry at the highest levels, which includes cultivating a diverse environment that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone. A recent PNAS publication showed the current paradox in STEM fields: diversity greatly increases the rate of innovation yet these innovations are devalued and discounted (“the Diversity-Innovation Paradox in Science”). Moving forward, we cannot ignore the impact that our own activities, decisions and attitudes have both on our local community at Stanford and on society more broadly. The institutional values that we develop and demonstrate here at the University have the potential to be carried forward by the members of our community who go on to other positions in academia and industry. We choose to not only promote the best science possible but to also promote values and actions that will help address gross inequities and injustices. As a community, we commit ourselves to the following:

-           We reject any forms of bigotry, including but not limited to racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia, which often manifest in the form of microaggressions that create hostile work environments.

-           We commit to fostering an environment in which people from all backgrounds are equally included, valued, and supported in our joint pursuit of scientific excellence.

-           We will gather information about the current climate of our department, taking special care to listen to those who are dealing with injustice if and when they are comfortable sharing.

-           We will examine our own personal actions or inactions to ensure that we individually embody and actively reinforce the University ideals of equality and inclusion.

-           We will become informed about and aware of the ways in which systemic racism is present in society and at Stanford and impacting all of our lives.

-           We will define and advocate for meaningful institutional changes to eliminate racism and bias within our own community, the University and beyond. 

The department will begin this initiative with a town hall event later this summer. Additional efforts from the Dean’s Office and the Biosciences programs will provide further support to our own. We strongly expect and encourage everyone in our community to take the time to understand and actively reject racism and bigotry, and to help us identify and establish meaningful changes toward a more inclusive and innovative research environment.