Native American Heritage Month, Hack(H)er413 leader profiles & more ...
Native American Heritage Month, Hack(H)er413 leader profiles & more ...
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter
Joy Harjo

Celebrating National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

The month of November is a time to acknowledge the many contributions of Native Americans to our culture and society. For those of us who are not indigenous to this land, consider participating in at least one action to educate ourselves or our families about Native Americans and their history and living culture. Two suggestions: 1) Reflect on the land that comprises our state and our university grounds by exploring the Native American Trails Project, which provides maps of tribal territories in Massachusetts; 2) Learn more about our National Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo (pictured above).
In addition, it is also important to recognize November 11, 2020 is Veterans’ Day. It is a day when we honor all of our veterans. It is a day that invites us to focus on what it means to serve others and to honor the sacrifices made by military families. If you know a veteran, consider thanking them for their service.
Diana Silva and Kashish Arora

Diana Silva & Kashish Arora, Hack(H)er413

Diana Silva, a senior majoring in operations and information management at Isenberg School of Management, and Kashish Arora, a junior majoring in computer science at CICS, are serving as the director and assistant director of Hack(H)er413 this year. This CICS-hosted event, entering its third year, is the first all-women (cis and trans) and non-binary student hackathon in Western Massachusetts.
As a woman in computer science, Arora notes that the male-dominated field can be intimidating and difficult. Arora tells us that the community that Hack(H)er413 provides, and the opportunity to be surrounded by people who share similar experiences, has helped her develop more confidence. Likewise, Silva, a woman studying outside of STEM, developed a newfound passion for coding at Hack(H)er413—leading to her enrollment in a computer science course to explore the discipline further.
This year's hackathon will take place on February 13, 2021, and will be virtual due to COVID-19. Regardless, Hack(H)er413's mission—to increase diversity and inclusion in the technology industry—remains the same. In fact, Silva and Arora see the change as an opportunity to reach more students across the world, and are excited to see a good turnout due to the increased accessibility of a virtual event.
Vickie Rupp

Staff Spotlight: Vickie Rupp

Vickie Rupp, assistant to the dean of CICS, spends her days supporting Dean Haas by scheduling meetings, arranging appointments, and managing her calendar. For Rupp, who has worked for the university in various roles and with students of many different backgrounds, an understanding of the complexities of student learning, grounded in diversity, is essential to helping the university function.
One of her many past roles at the university was serving as undergraduate program manager for the Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC). This role allowed Rupp to learn about students with many different niches and combinations of study, from students studying computer science and finance to those interested in holistic health. As part of her work, she discovered records of an individual who was working to pursue a major in computer science in the 1970s, long before the major began at UMass. Currently, Rupp is working on creating an online master’s degree through University Without Walls, which is being prepared for a Fall 2021 launch.
Diana McHaelen

Robin McHaelen’s 5 Tips to Being a Better Ally

Robin McHaelen is the founder and past executive director of True Colors, an organization which “works to create a world where LGBTQ+ youth thrive” through youth leadership training, conferences, and collaborative work with gender and sexuality alliances in middle and high schools. True Colors trains more than 5,000 people a year in cultural competency and runs Connecticut’s only mentoring program for LGBTQ+ youth. Now retired, McHaelen teaches two classes at Central Connecticut State University in human sexuality and intergroup relations. She is also active in the Black Lives Matter movement and is currently taking a course in combating white supremacy to continue her learning process.
Earlier this week, we were honored to have McHaelen facilitate an online workshop at CICS teaching us how to be better allies to our LGBTQIA+ community members. From the workshop, here are five tips to being a better ally:
  1. Ally" is a verb. It is not enough to say that you are an ally. You must be active in your allyship and in your recognition of the community as a diverse group of people with different gender identities and expressions. There are many nuances to each of us—be an ally to every part of a person’s identity.
  2. You don’t have to keep up, just keep open. Stay humble. If something being discussed is outside your experience, you may not understand all the nuances of the conversation. It takes a lifetime to learn to see where you have blind spots.
  3. You don’t need to understand identities that are not your own to give the people around you love and respect. Whether it’s learning and using someone else’s pronouns, or taking the time to understand their background and experience, you have the power to improve the educational journey of everyone in this community by practicing respect every day.
  4. Understanding the terms and rules is a base level of understanding. There is more to being an ally than understanding the rules!
  5. Hear” means “Intervene.” As allies, we must take action and call out unacceptable behavior. It’s one thing to be an ally when our friend is in the room, and another to be an ally when they aren’t. If we don’t respond to unacceptable behavior, we are unintentionally condoning it. We must ally when it matters, not just when it’s convenient.

Call for Student Voices

Students—get included in this newsletter! In the spirit of practicing gratitude this fall, students are invited to submit photos and brief statements representing people, memories, and things that make us grateful. In addition, we especially invite students to think of the people who have helped you the most during the fall term. Let us know about the faculty, staff, and TAs who helped you get through a difficult class, encouraged your career or internship search, edited your work, took extra time to check in on you, helped you navigate student resources, or simply made your day better.

In addition, in honor of International Education Week, we invite our amazing international students to share their photos and experiences with us so that we can celebrate them in social media. CICS wouldn’t be the same without our international students!
Banner: (Our)story: Eliot Moss

Film Discussion—Coded Bias

Join us for a conversation about the film Coded Bias, featuring filmmaker Shalini Katayaa, CICS Dean Laura Haas, and College of Engineering Dean Sanjay Raman. The film will stream virtually for the UMass community from November 1–7. The film and the discussion require separate registrations—click through for details.
Friday, November 6, 11:30am–1:00pm


This 24-hour hackathon run by Mount Holyoke College students will be held virtually on Discord. Participants will have the opportunity to create cool projects and present their work to a panel of judges, as well as attend talks and workshops. All are welcome! No experience necessary. Organizers strive for a 1:1 gender ratio.
Saturday, November 7, All Weekend

SOCS Celebration

We are celebrating Student Organizations in Computer Science! Join us as we give thanks to all the student leaders and organizations of CICS.
Tuesday, November 10, 6:00–7:00pm

Increasing Participation in Democracy with Social Computing: Q&A with Narges Mahyar

Can social computing tools facilitate a more inclusive, robust democracy that engages diverse perspectives in policymaking? Assistant Professor Narges Mahyar will introduce CommunityClick, a field-tested community-sourcing system which improves inclusivity by providing multiple avenues for attendees to share opinions.
Thursday, November 12, 4:00–5:30pm

(Our)story Featuring Eliot B. Moss

Come listen to the experiences shared by Graduate Program Director and Professor Emeritus Eliot B. Moss in the latest installment of the (Our)story series, where CICS community members share stories about their personal or professional journeys, culture, identity, and lessons learned.
Thursday, November 12, 11:45am–12:45pm

Suicide Prevention Training (Rescheduled)

Join us and the UMass Center for Counseling & Psychological Health for a training in suicide prevention. Learn to recognize the warning signs of depression or suicide, and find practical ways to support others or yourself.
Friday, November 13, 9:00–11:00am

International Education Week

UMass Amherst will celebrate the richness that students from around the world bring to campus with a series of events during International Education Week. Started in 2000, this program is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.
November 16–20
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