The following post is more of a personal reflection.
The days after the election were very difficult days for me, my family, and the people around me. I’d been fortunate in that the organizations I’m part of quickly responded and demonstrated their support and understanding of how the elections impact students. Many safe spaces were opened for discussion and interaction which really helped us to cope with what was happening. However, I was very disappointed with how the department I’m part of (Computer Science at Pomona) handled the situation. Contrary to how other faculty had offered support by emailing students, offering extensions, etc. , this department did not do anything.
I was particularly angered because my friends, who are people of color, and I have continuously tried to advocate for a change in this department which loves to say they advocate for ‘diversity’ but never does anything to support students like us. CS as it is a very white-male dominated space both in academia and in the tech industry.This situation has led to many problematic applications of CS concepts (biased algorithms, racial profiling, racist/sexist machine learning,etc.). We have tried to raise awareness about this by sending the head of the department various articles/ academic papers on these issues, but nothing has seemed to work. The department continues to be the same, and the lack of support still continues. As a result, my friend and I wrote a very long email to the head of the department, demanding them to say something about the situation, to acknowledge how this is going to affect their students, and to point out how their previous efforts have simply not worked (the last attempt was a discussion on the dynamics of the department, during this event friends and I voiced our concerns but the discussion somehow turned into how we needed a new couch in the lounge [this was voiced by a white student and we did in fact get a new couch]). As a result, the department emailed all CS students addressing some of our points and saying that they would be willing to accommodate students during this difficult time. I’m glad that happened, but there is still so much work to be done. It’s particularly concerning because a lot of CS students/faculty don’t see how technology is political and this mindset is obviously only going to further perpetuate the very same ideas that got Trump elected.