Statement on Diversity

These principles of community for the University of California, Berkeley, are rooted in a mission of teaching, research and public service and are fully upheld by the astronomy department. They reflect our passion for critical inquiry, debate, discovery and innovation, and our deep commitment to contributing to a better world. Every member of the UC Berkeley community has a role in sustaining a safe, caring and humane environment in which these values can thrive.

  • We place honesty and integrity in our teaching, learning, research and administration at the highest level.
  • We recognize the intrinsic relationship between diversity and excellence in all our endeavors.
  • We affirm the dignity of all individuals and strive to uphold a just community in which discrimination and hate are not tolerated.
  • We are committed to ensuring freedom of expression and dialogue that elicits the full spectrum of views held by our varied communities.
  • We respect the differences as well as the commonalities that bring us together and call for civility and respect in our personal interactions.
  • We believe that active participation and leadership in addressing the most pressing issues facing our local and global communities are central to our educational mission.
  • We embrace open and equitable access to opportunities for learning and development as our obligation and goal.

For more information, visit UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity, Inclusion & Diversity page.

Mental Health 

Berkeley provides a comprehensive Mental Health Handbook plus a helpful “Gold Folder” guide for helping people in distress.

For more information please visit:

Astronomy Climate Advisors

Definition of “climate”: Current attitudes, behaviors, and standards concerning the access for, inclusion of, and level of respect for individual and group needs, abilities, and potential.

The mission of the Astronomy Climate Advisors is to help devise and implement solutions to climate problems not necessarily involving formal investigations, and to serve as pointers to campus resources for conflict resolution and emotional and mental health.

Any member of the Astronomy Department can come to any Climate Advisor for help. We have come, individually and collectively, to the assistance of faculty members, staff, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates facing a variety of interpersonal problems. Our goal is to create and sustain an environment where everyone in Campbell Hall can do their best work. Information given to one Climate Advisor is shared with another Climate Advisor only on an as-need basis.

Although we will do our best to keep the information reported to us private, Climate Advisors are non-confidential: violations of the Title IX policy protecting University members against harassment, discrimination, and assault that are reported to us will necessarily be forwarded to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). The general rule is that if anyone wishes confidentiality, they should ask before confiding.

The current Climate Advisors are:

Faculty: Jessica Lu (chair), Gibor Basri

Staff: Maria Kies

Postdoc: Rebecca Jensen-ClemMarta Bryan

Graduate Student: Fatima Abdurrahman

Undergraduate: Orion Lyau

Anonymous Drop Box

An Anonymous Drop Box is available to anyone wishing to pass along a written (presumably anonymous, but it need not be) comment about anything related to the Astronomy Department (e.g., suggestions for improvement, or a sensitive issue). It is a black metal box hanging on the wall just outside the Remote Observing Room (Campbell 155).

The dropbox is intended to complement the Climate Advising system by providing an anonymous means of reporting. Anonymity is occasionally desired by students (undergrads + grads) or anyone with a supervisor. Note, however, that anonymity can also limit how effective the Department’s response can be.

The box can only be opened with two keys, both of which must be present at the same time to unlock the box. One key is held by Graduate Student Climate Advisor Kara Kundert, and the other key is held by Postdoc Climate Advisor Tanmoy Laskar. Both Advisors have to be simultaneously present to open the box; they are entrusted with checking its contents every other week (2nd and 4th Mondays of every month) and exercising their collective good judgment on how to proceed with the information they find. They may forward the note to relevant parties; e.g., if the note concerns undergraduate student conflict, then the Head Undergraduate Advisor may be informed. Unless the note requests otherwise, every note is cc’d to the Department Chair. Notes reporting harassment, discrimination, or assault are by necessity forwarded to OPHD.

Reporting Harassment

The Department of Astronomy is committed to providing support to anyone who has experienced any form of harassment or discrimination that impedes on one’s right to a safe work environment. We have compiled a list of department and campus resources that are available to anyone looking for assistance with reporting any form of harassment. 

UC Policy Changes 

On Oct 19 2015, members of the Astronomy faculty sent a letter to Vice Provost Broughton and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Steele proposing a number of changes as to how the campus can prosecute sexual harassment cases. On Oct 22 2015, this letter was also communicated to Academic Senate Chair Hermalin and Vice Chair Powell. The letter is available here.

University (“campus”) level policies have since been revised. Please see the Vice Provost’s website for Faculty Conduct. For specific procedures pertaining to sexual harassment cases and Senate faculty, see the this document (last updated Oct 10 2017) in addition to these details about the new Peer Review Committee system. The revised policies emphasize continuous communication between the University and complainants and respondents; opportunities for complainants and respondents to respond to case outcomes; the requirement that the Vice Provost for Faculty (VPF) consult a Peer Review Committee of Senate faculty before recommending sanctions; and the wide variety of “Early Resolution” recommendations available to the VPF, including, but not limited to, censure of faculty, prohibition from teaching, monetary fines, demotion, or resignation.

Department Climate Surveys

Current Survey

In 2017, a Department Climate Survey organized by the Office for Equity & Inclusion (OEI) and the Astronomy Climate Advisors was circulated to residents of Campbell Hall covering issues of sexual harassment; discrimination along the lines of gender, race, and ethnicity; and supervisor relations. The survey results from OEI may be accessed HERE.  The Department response, including follow up actions, can be downloaded HERE.  

Past Surveys

The 2016 Department Climate Survey, together with the response from the Astronomy Climate Advisors, is here.
The 2015 Department Climate Survey summary report may be accessed here.  The Department’s response is here.

Responses to the University’s Title IX Investigation

The following letters were written in October 2015 by the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department community in response to the University’s Title IX investigation of Geoff Marcy.