Diversity Statement

McCluney Lab

Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Statement

Developed Spring 2021, Revised Spring 2022

Contributors: Caroline Barth, Jonathan Brokaw, Jacob Buchanan, Daniel Clark, Emily Fargo, Bridget Harter, MJ Lashbrook, Kevin McCluney, Gabriella Muller, Mica Rumbach, Alessia Saul, and Toby Shaya with helpful feedback from Lisa Hanasono and Jennifer McCary.

Authors and overview

This document was created by members of the McCluney Lab in 2020 and revised in 2022. Inevitably, it is shaped by our own biases and backgrounds. Thus, we intend this to be a living document, which will be updated by future members of the lab.

In an ideal world, this document would be unnecessary. However, instances of discrimination and sexual assault take place in academic settings, and ecology labs are no exception. Moreover, these behaviors have too often been tolerated by others who are aware of them. Here, we make it clear that our lab is committed to stopping biased or abusive behaviors of any kind. Instead, we value diversity, equity, and inclusion and work actively towards an environment where all feel safe, respected, and supported.

Statement of goals and beliefs

The McCluney Lab strives to understand human impacts on the environment and aims to address questions that could help society achieve sustainability, which we believe includes the three Es: economics, equity, and the environment. We also aim to educate and train students for a variety of careers (not solely academic). We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are central goals for our lab environment and are integral to the type of science that we do. Thus, we cultivate a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, which recognizes differences in privilege, respects all people, and encourages diverse viewpoints. In addition to ethical considerations, we believe this makes the lab stronger, more creative, and better at problem solving. When we foster a diverse, equitable, collaborative environment, everyone benefits.

Guidelines for lab culture

To achieve our goals of fostering an inclusive and equitable lab environment, we strive for the following laboratory practices:

  • Promoting respect and collaboration
    • Giving feedback respectfully and constructively (i.e., suggestions for improvement)
    • Being mindful of the impact of our words (regardless of intent), and respecting & considering others’ responses
    • Prohibiting harassment of any kind
  • Valuing diverse backgrounds and cultures
  • Encouraging and carefully considering new perspectives and ideas
  • Preventing, recognizing, and addressing discrimination appropriately both in and out of the lab (also see “Being an ally” below)
    • This could include reporting to the PI or department chair, as well as other designated offices (e.g., Title IX coordinator)
  • Supporting one another in achieving safe working conditions in the field, where encounters with biased people unaffiliated with the university are possible
    • Recognizing that differences in identity may lead to different risks for different individuals

Understanding the role of racism in ecological systems

  • We recognize that ecological systems are really socio-ecological systems and that differences in human cultures alter these systems in fundamentally important ways.
    • We also recognize that racism has influenced the distribution of peoples with these cultures, thus influencing ecological systems.
      • For example, as recently described in Schell et al. (2020), current ecological patterns and processes are often the result of historical racism, especially in urban ecosystems (e.g., redlining).
      • Additionally, many indigenous peoples, past and present, have recognized the importance of ecological systems and their place within them, whereas colonists have often seen themselves as separate from ecological systems and tried to subdue “nature.” These differences in culture have resulted in differences in ecological patterns and processes.
  • We also recognize that systemic racism often results in unequal exposure to ecosystem services (clean water, shade, fisheries, pollination, psychological benefits) and disservices (e.g., pollution, heat, disease).

Acknowledgement of oppression of indigenous peoples

  • We recognize that the lands where we currently live and do research were once inhabited and managed by indigenous peoples. These peoples were forcibly removed by European colonists to the region. Combined with subsequent policies by the US government, this led to the genocide of these indigenous peoples. This colonialism and oppression is still ongoing.
  • BGSU sits on the ancestral territory of the Wyandot, Huron, Kickapoo, Miami, Peoria, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. Also, we do research in other locations that include ancestral lands of other indigenous peoples.
  • Some of us are the descendants of these colonists, and we recognize that we have benefited at the expense of indigenous peoples.
  • While we are not responsible for the actions of our ancestors, we can recognize the privileges these actions have given us and will strive to do better in the future.
  • We also recognize that indigenous peoples are still present and are currently making important contributions to society. Significantly, from the standpoint of our lab, they are providing leadership in conservation and sustainability, and have substantial knowledge of the ecosystems in which we work.
  • We are working to learn more about the indigenous peoples in the places we live and work and plan on taking action to support them.

Being an ally

Due to our beliefs, outlined above, we strive to use our privilege to support our colleagues and create more equitable systems. We will:

  • Use our power and privilege as instructors to create more inclusive, equitable, and diverse classrooms and laboratories
  • Work with the Biology Graduate Student Association to create more equitable and inclusive departmental environment
  • Intervene when we witness micro or macro aggressions (bystander intervention). The intervention may depend on the type of event (micro or macro aggression) and the privilege of the bystander (undergraduate, graduate student, untenured faculty, tenured faculty). The range of potential actions include:
    • Providing emotional support to the target (may be main recourse if bystander is lower privilege)
    • Diffusing the situation by being friendly with the target and ignoring the person causing harm (especially when both the target and perpetrator are strangers)
    • Diffusing the situation with humor (but this needs to be done carefully and is usually best if the person causing harm is someone you know)
    • Approaching the person causing harm, after the incident, and telling them what they might have done (this is a good approach for micro-aggressions from someone you know; an example wording: “You probably didn’t mean it that way, but have you considered how that may have come across?”)
    • Documenting the incident and bringing it to the attention of a person in a higher position (e.g. PI of the lab)
    • Calling the police (in cases of imminent danger or a need to report a crime)
  • Using our privilege as mentors and supervisors to support the training and development of diverse individuals
  • Using our privilege as elected members or chairs of committees or other positions of power to push for policy changes that reduce systemic racism and fight inequity

Current actions

Our lab has begun acting on our statements above. Here we list our current actions and below you can find a plan for future actions.

  • Lab meetings centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Creating a lab and field safety document that outlines approaches for promoting safer conditions for people of diverse identities (especially important for field work)
  • Recognizing our own biases and attempting to guard against them (with students in classes, applicants for positions, etc.)
  • Keeping updated on BGSA’s diversity efforts
  • Efforts by the PI to develop better departmental policies in his role on the personnel committee
  • Efforts by the PI to support new and diverse colleagues
  • The PI participated in the BGSU ALLIES training program

Plan for future actions

  • Conducting a yearly review and update of this DEI statement
  • Attending workshops through The Division of Diversity and Belonging (https://www.bgsu.edu/equity-diversity-and-inclusion/workshops.html)
  • Attending inclusive pedagogy workshops (through the Center for Faculty Excellence)
  • Attending public presentations about justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Accumulating resources to support diversity in STEM
  • Devoting 10 mins of class time to talk about research opportunities in STEM and graduate school (making sure students are aware of tuition remissions and stipends in graduate school)
  • Work with BGSU’s Division of Diversity and Belonging
  • Invite diverse seminar speakers
  • Investigate possible research collaborations with HBCUs
  • Participate in outreach activities that increase participation in science
  • We are working to learn more about the indigenous peoples in the places we live and work and will develop a specific plan of action to support them in the near future.
  • We plan to learn more about the concept of honorable harvest and discuss methods of honoring the plants and animals that are used in our research.