Welcome to the first CICS Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter!
Welcome to the first CICS Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter!
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter
Erika Dawson-Head, Emma Anderson, Kimberly S. Springer

Welcome to the CICS Diversity & Inclusive Community Development Newsletter

We are so happy to be sharing the first issue of our newsletter with everyone, especially those who are new to CICS! No matter who you are, where you come from, or what your experience is, you have a place here in CICS, and it is our mission to build a college that is welcoming and inclusive of all.
The CICS Office of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development consists of Erika Dawson Head, director of diversity and inclusive community development, Emma Anderson, director of inclusive education and teaching support, Kimberly Springer, assistant director of inclusive programs, and our amazing student workers, Lauren Preston, Pravini Silva, and Eva Chow. Our office is involved in a variety of initiatives, including our Community Conversations series of discussions, peer mentorship, community outreach, trainings, student leadership development, and much more. We encourage you to reach out to any of us if you would like to talk more about these initiatives—find our contact information and more about our office and initiatives on our web page.
As a global community, we are having a moment of collective grief and trauma, between COVID-19 and the increase in racialized acts against people of Asian descent, as well as the public murders and/or shootings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Jacob Blake, and sadly many more Black Americans. In this moment, we are seeing an increased awareness of issues concerning inclusion and equity. The number of people who have become involved in the new Committee Against Racism and for Equity (CARE) within our college gives us hope for the future, and the actions and efforts of our community have been nothing short of outstanding. We invite you to follow this newsletter and join us on our continued journey towards a more inclusive community for all members of the CICS family.
Erika Dawson Head, Director of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development
Emma Anderson, Director of Inclusive Education & Teaching Support
Kimberly Springer, Assistant Director of Inclusive Programs

Michelle Trim, Nader Akoury

Community Profile: CARE Co-Chairs Michelle Trim &
Nader Akoury

Michelle Trim, senior teaching faculty and the associate director of the informatics program, and Nader Akoury, doctoral student, are co-chairs of the core committee of the Committee Against Racism and For Equity (CARE), which is charged with developing a long-term strategy to address racism and inequity in CICS. Trim and Akoury have been long-standing advocates for diversity and inclusion initiatives at CICS. 
Trim’s scholarship includes a strong focus on ethics and racial and gender equity in technology. Her commitment to maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment ranges from mentoring individual students, to teaching CS ethics courses (such as CICS 305: Social Issues in Computing, for which she is the course chair), to advocating for policy change throughout the college. She received the college's 2020 Outstanding Teaching Award and was named a UMass Amherst Teaching for Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Equity Ambassador in 2016–2017. As another faculty member said about her, "The impact Michelle has on students is tremendous ... informatics majors have mentioned to me about her personal investment in their aspirations and goals."
Akoury notes that computer science has “some of the worst representation [of STEM fields], especially in industry,” and has long been dedicated to building representation for marginalized populations in computing. As an engineering manager at Yelp, he mentored the iOS engineering team and interns. He has been a mentor at the Girls, Inc. Eureka coding workshops, and is a founding member of the B[U]ILT (Black, Indigenous, and LatinX in Tech) student group at CICS.
In their work for the CARE committee at CICS, Trim says they are looking to ask computer scientists to make an “epistemological shift” away from race and gender biased assumptions. In addition, Akoury is interested in ensuring that CICS learns to better support incoming students across the broad spectrum of computer science experience as they begin their careers at UMass Amherst.
Akoury praises the effort he sees in this current initiative, saying that “the number of students, faculty, and staff that are taking part in this is tremendous. There’s just a strong desire to make those changes.” Trim agrees, saying people at CICS “are increasingly less willing to follow the status quo. They want to live in a different world and they want to contribute their intelligence, creativity and ideas.”
Srimoyee Bhattacharyya

Student Voice: Srimoyee Bhattacharyya, MS'21

"This time last year, I had just arrived on campus [as a master's student]. I still had that lingering doubt that my admit from UMass might just turn out to be a technical error. It took me a few months to realize that no matter where I come from, I have something to contribute here. Through CICS events, like volunteering to teach high school students how to write code (for creating LED art), or working on an interesting team project at Hack(H)er413, I gradually transitioned from being a hesitant observer to a confident member of the community.

The opportunity to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration with a scholarship from CICS could not have come at a better time. While the fully virtual conference has its own challenges, it opens up a chance to interact with people who may not have been able to make it in person. I am excited to foster meaningful connections with women in different stages of their career, coming from different parts of the world and to learn from their experiences. This will be pivotal in shaping my understanding of the direction that our industry will be taking in the coming years."
Book on table: Parable of the Sower

Book Discussion Groups

Since February, our office has had the pleasure of facilitating conversations on racism and inequity with over 200 community members in multisession book discussions. Nearly 100 individuals participated in the first discussions on Robin D’Angelo’s White Fragility, with 30% of participants repeating the process.
Over the summer, we led groups on Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower (now a bestseller) and Jane Margolis’ Stuck in the Shallow End, and this fall we'll be reading Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology. In Erika Dawson Head's observation, most of the people participating in these discussions feel more comfortable having conversations about race by the end of the discussion group. As she puts it, “There were some hearts and minds that were changed and some eyes that were opened.”
Join us for meaningful discussions about race and racism in one (or both!) of the Fall 2020 Book Clubs.
Sign up for book discussion groups

(Our)story - Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month

We are hosting a series celebrating the many communities of CICS called (Our)story. Each month we will have a special speaker from CICS share their story about their personal or professional journey, culture, identity, lessons learned, and more. Come listen to the experiences shared by Senior Teaching Faculty Jaime Dávila, and stay afterward to share stories and listen to our CICS Hispanic and Latinx community.
Friday, September 18, 11:45am–12:45pm

Sign up — Understanding Yourself & Others: CICS Faculty/Staff

Join us in this important journey where we can build closer relationships, explore strategies to overcome stressors, have fun, and learn how to thrive in this new normal! This group will meet for one hour a week for four weeks.
Register by September 23 — meeting dates will be based on participant availability

Virtual Events and Accessibility Workshop

Have you wondered how you can make your virtual events more accessible for all audiences? Do you have questions on terminology, technology, and best practices? The CICS Events Office invites all interested parties to part one of this two-part workshop series on virtual event accessibility. 
Friday, September 25 and Wednesday, September 30, 10:00am–Noon
Information Session: Why Grad School?
Curious about getting a masters or PhD in computer science? The UMass CICS Community Outreach Student Team (COST) is hosting an event with a panel of current CICS graduate students to answer any questions undergrads may have about grad school.
Tuesday, September 29, 5:30–6:30pm

Grace Hopper Celebration

CICS Careers and the Office of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development is sponsoring more than 20 students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration this year.
Tuesday, September 29 to Saturday, October 3

Diversity and Inequality in Social Networks: From Recommendation to Information Diffusion

As part of the CICS Rising Stars lecture series, Ana-Andreea Stoica of Columbia University will provide an analysis of algorithmic bias in social networks.
Wednesday, September 30, 1:00–2:15pm

AI Analysis of Racism in Sports Journalism & College Coaching: Q & A with Mohit Iyyer

Assistant Professor Mohit Iyyer will present on how his work utilizes artificial intelligence—in particular, natural language processing and machine learning—to analyze evidence of racial bias in sports broadcasting and coaching.
Wednesday, September 30, 4:00–5:30pm
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