As the nation continues to mourn and respond to the unjust death of George Floyd, there is no doubt that violent race-related incidents and the subsequent protests and clashes are the most urgent need for us as a society to address. Further, to address them, we must acknowledge that these are just the latest incidents of the systemic, deeply-rooted problems related to race in this country. We must learn from them and seek real change, toward real progress on increasing diversity, equity and inclusion.
As many know, June 10 has been identified as a “strike” day for academic institutions. We acknowledge many of our employees may choose to join the Strike for Black Lives, and we support them in their decision. We have cancelled all standing meetings for the day and have provided employees with options for reading and self-reflection. We support these actions as we fully believe that all lives can only matter when Black Lives Matter too.
At AUI, given that we run national and international facilities, we have a particular interest and focus on ensuring equal access – especially by underserved and underrepresented communities — to the facilities, opportunities and careers in R&D. AUI deeply values and prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion, and we understand the strength and value that they bring to R&D, and that they are integral to our mission and our operations. However, we must recognize and address the reality that while we strive for equal access, often access is experienced unequally across racial lines in our country. When left unaddressed or under-addressed, inequitable treatment of people has a destructive, toxic effect on our culture. Ending these inequities must be an integral part of our mission and our daily work. We have made good progress, but we have a long way to go. We must and will do better – always.
We are committed to providing a safe, non-discriminatory workplace for all our workforce, collaborators, users of our facilities, contractors, students and visitors. Our work conduct policies exemplify and reinforce our on-going commitment to maintaining an atmosphere where everyone is treated with respect. We are committed to our policies and improving them as needed to ensure that every one of us is heard and respected. We strive to proactively address inequity internally and to redouble our efforts with our partners and external stakeholders.
NSBP-AUI Partnership: Over the past decade, AUI has partnered with the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) on various STEM education projects and outreach initiatives. AUI and the observatories we manage have benefited significantly from this partnership, becoming more aware of issues facing persons of color in physics and astronomy and working together to implement solutions. We remain committed to our enduring partnership and our shared set of values. While there are many ways to make a positive difference for a more inclusive world in our scientific communities, we encourage those seeking to make an impact to contribute to NSBP programs, or to another organization of your choice with the mission of enhancing diversity in the R&D and STEM fields. AUI is a proud supporter of the NSBP Scholarship for Minority Students Majoring in Physics, and we hope you will consider contributing as well. For more information, visit https://www.nsbp.org/ and click on the Donate tab.