Anti-racism statement from the MVZ Faculty and Staff

June 7, 2020

We are profoundly dismayed and saddened over the recent events roiling our country. The death of George Floyd is the most recent example of a long series of senseless deaths of Black Americans. We are united in pledging to take anti-racist actions and help change the systemic racism that allowed these needless deaths and have held back generations of Black Americans.

We join Chancellor Carol Christ and many others on the Berkeley campus in condemning this violence and standing against racism in its many forms. We encourage you to read the Chancellor’s recent message, which also includes links to resources during these difficult times:

We recognize that our society is not one in which we can all live safely and equitably. At the MVZ, we plan to take specific steps to educate our faculty, staff, and students on how to create a more inclusive environment (such as bystander intervention training and/or allyship workshops). In the coming weeks, we will also solicit suggestions from our community members for input on which actionable steps would most improve our workplace climate; please wait for further communication. The MVZ is committed to fostering a community that is supportive, inclusive, and respectful of all individuals.

Sincerely, MVZ Faculty and Staff


DEI Townhall and Working Groups

On July 29, 2020, the MVZ held a virtual Townhall attended by over 100 people to discuss concrete steps towards a more diverse, equitable and inclusive MVZ community. From this, we organized ourselves into several working groups to tackle specific recommendations and issues.  Below are the initially proposed working groups, which are convening this semester to decide next steps on stated goals. Some Working Groups will inevitably merge or goals may be reprioritized. We will have updates as groups progress.

Initial Working Groups on:

  • Fieldwork  –  Produce best practices (code of ethics) for field work, especially international field work
  • Collections Review  – Address questionable specimens and curatorial issues, e.g., appropriate treatment of human remains, repatriation of Esselen material from Hastings that is housed at the MVZ, identification of items that may need to be deaccessioned.
  • Welcoming – Create a welcoming space in the front office, possibly a dedicated display. Create a new welcome event for the fall semester, possibly focusing on new students.
  • Community promoting interaction –  Create new opportunities for people in the MVZ to get to know each other;  for example, by hosting informal and short MVZ talks as part of coffee hour or before Friday happy hour to make it easier to network with and among students.
  • Translation – Translate research papers for greater access (including developing best practices to make it easy for MVZ researchers to do for their own publications).
  • Display – Add relevant information like geographic information and common names to signs in the collection; consider how this will be maintained as specimen locations change. This will help during tours and will facilitate orientation of new people to the MVZ. Consider other possible displays while not impeding research space.
  • Affiliated Students – Better engage affiliated students more (e.g., having rotations in labs to better integrate into MVZ community)
  • DEI Website – Create content for the website to highlight DEI efforts and coordinate with MVZ social media.
  • Recognition  – Create system(s) for recognizing faculty, staff, and student contributions to DEI (possibly a system that collects and summarizes such information for the annual report).
  • Technical Workshops  – Organize community wide seminars and/or workshops on various topics, e.g. web development, how to use R, GIS, etc.
  • DEI MVZ Lunch Seminar – Increase diversity of MVZ seminar series speakers, both through more under-represented speakers as well as speakers dedicated specifically to DEI issues.
  • Training  –  Organize opportunities for multicultural training.
  • Curatorial internship –  Re-establish graduate student internship or other paid positions for curatorial work. Identify possible grants and sources of support to support these positions.
  • Curiosity correspondent – Create a “curiosity correspondent” for the MVZ as a student position to highlight DEI issues.
  • Mentorship – Create mentorship guidelines and accountability practices for mentoring both graduate and undergraduate students. Generate best practices for lab inclusivity and culture
  • Undergraduate URM internship – Create an underrepresented minorities undergraduate internship at the MVZ.
  • Hastings-MVZ internship – Develop an internship partnership between Hastings and MVZ.
  • Undergraduate recruitment – Create structure to better recruit diverse undergraduates. Increase information about DEI efforts in the MVZ, improve DEI online presence (e.g., better promote tour opportunities for new freshman, transfers, undergraduate clubs) to recruit students earlier in their careers
  • Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) – Create an NSF REU style program that includes field, lab, museum work.
  • Visiting Scholar – Re-establish visiting scholar funds for using the collections or receiving training. Identify possible grants and sources of support for such.
  • Undergraduate Training – Create structure to provide training, mentoring on preparation for graduate programs.
  • Biology Scholar’s Program (BSP)- Strengthen partnership with BSP; intersects with multiple working group goals on this list.
  • Graduate Student Recruitment – Recruit more URM graduate students; for example through outreach to CSUs, HBCUs and participation at SACNAS meetings.