Physics and Astronomy Department Norms
This is a draft of department norms that are still under development. It will be updated in the coming weeks and periodically as changes are warranted.
The department aims to create an inclusive environment in which all members, regardless of identity or prior experience, are supported in exploring their interests in physics and astronomy. All members of the Physics and Astronomy Department should strive to maintain a welcoming and inclusive environment inside and outside the classroom, to respect one another, to be willing to learn and grow, and be mindful of the impact words and actions may have on others in making them feel welcome or unwelcome.
These Department Norms apply to all faculty and staff in the Department, all students taking classes/majoring/working in the Department, and all in attendance at Department events.
- Treat others with respect.
- Respect others’ feelings, such as using kind words or erring on the side of greater formality in conversations
- Respect others’ personal space, such as giving space when talking and asking before hugging or touching
- Respect identities, such as learning names, using preferred pronouns, and not making assumptions about others’ identities
- Give criticism constructively
- Step back - Allow others to participate fully in discussions and activities
- Act in good faith and assume others are acting in good faith
Openness to growth
- Step up - Participate in the life of the department and collaborative class projects as you are able, keeping in mind that participation can take many forms
- Receive criticism constructively, assuming feedback is offered in the spirit of helpfulness, growth and change.
- Learn course standards for intellectual responsibility and abide by them
- Remind others when they fall short of our community’s norms
- Acknowledge times when you fall short of these norms, regardless of the intent of your words or actions, and amend your behavior
- Learn about the experiences and needs of those with different identities and about how to maintain an inclusive environment
Avenues for addressing concerns
We strive to maintain an inclusive community where diversity is celebrated and everyone’s ideas are welcomed. If you have a concern, you should feel free to discuss it with your advisor, instructor, Department Chair, or the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Here are places you can go to address specific kinds of concerns:
- Concerns about sexual harassment and Title IX violations - Contact the Title IX Office: You may also speak with any faculty or staff in the Department. All faculty are mandatory Title IX reporters.
- Concerns about Amherst College Student Code of Conduct violations – Contact the Community Standards Office
- Concerns about conduct that occurs in a class – Contact the professor/instructor for the class. Concerns about an instructor - contact your advisor or the Department Chair.
- Concerns about conduct that occurs at a Departmental event – Contact your advisor, another faculty member, or the Department Chair.
- General concerns or concerns that you would like to remain anonymous – Leave a comment in the Department Comment Box. (A physical box is located outside the department office and a virtual box can be found on the department webpage.) This concern will be discussed at a meeting of the CCC (Climate and Community Committee) and at a faculty/staff department meeting.
- The College Ombudsperson works with individuals and groups to find ways to feel that their work environments are fair and respectful and are places where differences or conflicts can be understood and dealt with constructively.
- The Center for Restorative Practices provides student, staff and/or faculty conflict mediation, prevention or resolution that is based on confidential, non-punitive, restorative principles.
- Identity Based Harm Review Team is a confidential place for addressing harm related directly to one's identity.
Faculty, staff and student responsibilities
- Speak up – if you see something, say something. This can be done in the moment, or afterward.
- Instructors and students will discuss norms and how they will be applied in each course.
Codes of conduct and other ethical statements that we follow
Amherst College Honor Code (includes Statement on Respect for Persons)
Codes of Conduct: Why do we need them? By Heloise Stevance
Codes of Conduct: Writing Guide by Heloise Stevance
Respect Differences? Challenging Common Guidelines in Social Justice Education by Senso, O. and DiAngelo (2014)