Carnegie Mellon University

cs.pngOur Community Standards

With the goal of cultivating a safe, respectful, and supportive climate, the Department of English has committed to the following directives, which apply to all faculty, staff, and students associated with the department.

  • Educating ourselves about how racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, classism, and ageism are still operating in our institution and our world.
  • Listening deeply so that any complaint regarding racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, or any other abuse is taken seriously. People in positions of power have an obligation to use their privilege to address such infractions.
  • Examining and resisting entrenched hierarchies. People in positions of power have an obligation to treat less privileged members of our community with more—not less—respect, consideration, and kindness than their peers. 
  • Prioritizing diversity when hiring new faculty and admitting students so that new and varied perspectives, areas of scholarship, and educational backgrounds all contribute to the strength and creativity of the Department.
  • Prioritizing colleagues of color with regard to issues of race. 
  • Warmly mentoring those who are working toward tenure, and actively protecting non-tenured faculty and students from doing too much work.
  • Communicating with respect for others, no matter our different points of view. 
  • Aiming for kindness and forgiving mistakes, allowing that we are all flawed human beings who will sometimes make errors.
  • Making an effort to be aware of barriers faced by others, and when possible, making accommodations to remove or mitigate these barriers.
  • Working with a spirit of genuine inclusiveness, making efforts to include all colleagues, including staff and students, in intellectual and social gatherings whenever possible.


Examining & resisting entrenched hierarchies

  • Do not treat office staff as if they should always be available to serve. Everyone has lots of important work to do. 
  • Do not take items that do not belong to you off of desks. 
  • Do not pile up work on junior colleagues or assume they owe you more respect than you owe them.
  • Be respectful and grateful to those who are keeping the halls and offices clean.
  • Examine potential barriers to admission (such as SAT requirements) or hiring (1)
  • Be willing to work harder/expend more time and effort to support and mentor historically underrepresented groups
  • Be aware of (and resist) the tendency to be more generous to those who remind us of younger versions of ourselves than those who initially appear different (2)

Prioritizing diversity in hiring and admitting students

  • Be careful about establishing criteria before evaluating individuals (3)
  • Educate ourselves and follow best practices for equity and hiring (4)

Prioritizing & respecting the voices of colleagues of color

  • Do not call on colleagues of color every time there is an issue about race (tokenizing)
  • Recognize that colleagues of color have deeper and more fundamental insights into issues of race, but at the same time should not be expected to speak on every issue. 

Warmly mentoring junior colleagues

  • Senior faculty should offer to read junior colleagues’ work
  • Junior faculty should have the option to choose a mentor
  • Senior faculty should be conscious of possible power dynamics and remember that they are there to encourage and respect the ongoing work of junior colleagues.  Mentorship is a service and not a position of authority.
  • Always speak in a respectful tone to and about junior colleagues, including students and staff.
  • Actively encourage junior faculty to speak up in meetings without fear of repercussions
  • Protect junior colleagues from doing too much work while also giving them agency to make their own decisions.  
  • When asking someone to take on extra work, preface the request with an invitation to decline (“please feel free to say no”). 

Communicating with respect for others

  • Do not interrupt
  • Meet deadlines
  • Respect others’ time
  • Intervene when you see someone else being silenced

Aiming for kindness and forgiveness mistakes

  • Offer criticism constructively, as an offer to help rather than embarrassing someone
  • Resist gossip
  • Take apologies seriously
  • See people as human beings who inevitably have flaws and make mistakes, but still have much to offer

Making an effort to be aware of barriers faced by others

  • Be aware of issues of vision, hearing, and mobility
  • Be aware of factors that inhibit certain groups from speaking

Working with a spirit of genuine inclusiveness

  • When possible, take the initiative to invite colleagues to socialize informally
  • Include the entire department in a social event when hiring new faculty
  • Seek out new opportunities for genuine collaboration and coworking


  1. See England, Jason. The mess that is elite college admissions, explained by a former dean and Admissions confidential

2.  See Farnell, Richard. Mentor people who aren’t like you.

3. See Correll, Shelley & Caroline Simard. Vague Feedback is holding women back and Roberts, Laura Morgan & Anthony Mayo.  Toward a racially just workplace

4. See Devine, Patricia G., et al. A gender bias habit-breaking intervention led to increased hiring of female faculty in STEMM departments. 

Department Reporting Procedure

The DEI Committee serves as the initial body to hear reported behaviors and/or actions that do not align with our English Department community standards. If any department members (students, faculty, or staff) see or experience poor climate, including both individual issues and emerging patterns of behavior, this committee will serve as an intermediary between the reporting party, the Department Head, and the Associate Head. The committee will keep a record of all the issues reported throughout the academic year and make transparent to the department the number, nature, and response of incidents while maintaining anonymity of all involved parties. 

Any constituent of the department may seek out a member of the DEI Committee, and once a report is made, the process will go as follows: 

    • If a report is made to a member that is not the current chair of the DEI Committee, that member will convey the report to the DEI Committee chair. 
    • At that time, the DEI Committee chair and the reporting party will decide if other university reporting avenues are more appropriate, including legal resolutions (for more information on university reporting procedures, see “DEI Bias Reporting and Response” and the university ethics hotline). 
    • If the reporting party would like to pursue an English department DEI report, the reporting party has the option at that time for their identity to remain anonymous and need not participate any further after their report has been made. 
    • Next, the DEI Committee chair along with one additional member of the DEI Committee selected by the DEI Committee chair will meet with the Department Head, the Associate Head, and the Associate Dean of DEI for Dietrich College. 
  • If either the Department Head or Associate Head are somehow involved in the reported issue, an alternative administrative member will be selected as a replacement by the DEI Committee chair. As stated, the reporter can choose to remain anonymous and/or participate in this step. The DEI Committee chair must be present for this meeting. 
  • A decision for action (or not) will be made jointly by the Department Head and Associate Head; however, the role of the DEI Committee chair and the Associate Dean of DEI for Dietrich College is to consistently represent and prioritize community standard based DEI outcomes in consultation with the Department Head and Associate Head. 

Once a decision has been made, the DEI Committee chair will document the nature of the reported action and, at the end of every academic year, the Department Head will make transparent any reports that have been made with the goal of facilitating wider conversations and nurturing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive climate.