Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Department of Entomology

In March 2019, members of the Department of Entomology formed an ad-hoc committee devoted to fostering a more welcoming and supportive community for all of its members. We recognize that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are important, interdependent components of everyday life in the Department of Entomology and are critical to our pursuit of academic excellence. To that end, the Department voted in the fall of 2020 to maintain a standing committee devoted to DEI with members who represent the perspectives of regular faculty, fixed-term faculty, academic specialists, staff, research associates, and students. Current committee members are listed below with links to their departmental profiles and contact information.

In response to national events in the spring of 2020, the Department composed a letter dated June 4 about our commitment to creating a safe and supportive environment.

Current Departmental DEI Initiatives

  • Extending automatic faculty voting privileges to Academic Specialists and providing Post-doctoral Associates with a Voting Representative. Previously, Academic Specialists had to apply on an annual basis for voting privileges on Departmental matters and the post-doctoral associates had no representative vote. The DEI committee worked to update the by-laws of our Department to grant automatic faculty voting privileges to our Academic Specialists and to provide the opportunity for the post-doctoral associates to have a voting representative on Departmental matters.
  • Broader Representation in the Departmental Seminar Series. We worked with the Seminar Committee 1) to be more deliberate about inviting a diverse set of speakers for our Seminar Series, 2) to set aside time for our post-docs and graduate students to present on their work each semester, and 3) starting with the Fall 2020 Seminar Series, offering at least one dedicated seminar highlighting important DEI work or relevant training. In Fall 2020, we had a presentation on the functions of the MSU Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance. In the Spring 2021, we invited members of Project Biodiversify to talk about the work that they are doing.
  • Socioeconomic Equity in Higher Education During the Time of COVID-19: A Conversation with Dr. Anthony Jack. Members of the MSU Graduate and Undergraduate Entomology Student Society (GUESS) started a DEI book club in the summer of 2020 where they read Dr. Anthony Jack’s The Privileged Poor, discussing the challenges that racial inequity, social class and educational experiences can present for students. This led to an invitation to Jack to speak on March 17, 2021, co-sponsored by CANR Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the students in our department who applied for a grant from the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.
  • Entomology Research and Outreach Fellowship (EROF) Program. The EROF program is another initiative that was conceived by our graduate students. The purpose of the program is to provide undergraduates with limited research opportunities, a fully-funded, summer-long immersive research experience. The graduate students believe the EROF program presents a novel opportunity to include students across Michigan from various socioeconomic backgrounds to engage with entomological research, generating a department that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.
  • Removing the GRE as a requirement in graduate school applications to the Department. Recognizing the inherent bias that has been documented in standardized testing, the Department formally changed its policy about the GRE and the DEI Committee was able to work with the various plant fellowships offered at the university to remove that requirement from their applications as well.
  • Relieving economic hardships for current students. The DEI Committee was able to facilitate a conversation between the graduate students and Department business office so that graduate students could become aware of the process by which they can apply up front to cover meeting expenses instead of having to wait for a reimbursement.

For Advice and Assistance on DEI-related Concerns

  • Within the Department of Entomology. Individuals are welcome to reach out to the Department Chair, any member of the Department Advisory Committee, or any member of the DEI Committee (committee member profiles are linked above). Students may also contact Anthony Cognato, our Graduate Student Advisor, or Amanda Lorenz, our Undergraduate Advisor.
  • At the College Level. The Department of Entomology is in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) who maintains an Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, open to all, providing advice and assistance. On their webpage, members of the CANR community may provide feedback or report issues using the Culturally Inclusive College Sharing System developed to track and respond to behaviors and situations that work in favor or against our goals of a safe and supportive environment.
  • The Office of the University Ombudsperson. Whether one is a student, faculty, staff or administrator, the Office of the University Ombudsperson, offers a confidential place to discuss academic concerns, administrative issues, workplace issues, or any MSU-related concern. It also interprets and explains university policies and procedures. Here, one can speak freely because the Office of the University Ombudsperson offers a confidential, independent, impartial and informal resource about a complaint, conflict or concern. Members of the MSU community may contact the University Ombudsperson by email (ombud@msu.edu), by phone (517-353-8830), or via the Problem/Concern Form. Please visit: Office of the University Ombudsperson for more information.
  • Reporting criminal or ethical concerns. This page contains links and information on where to report criminal or ethical concerns.

Important DEI-related Resources and Learning Opportunities

In the interest of self-improvement with regards to DEI, here we provide a short list of resources that we hope you will find useful.

Mental Health and Wellness

Recognizing that the academic environment can be an intense place to work, the DEI Committee believes it is important to offer information about the Mental Health and Wellness Resources available to our community at MSU.