Department Climate Resources


Within the Linguistics Department, the following people play a key role in helping to support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Climate Committee (2019-2020: Eve Sweetser, Emily Remirez, Raksit Lau). This committee organizes a departmental climate survey and other department-wide activities that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching, research, and collegial life.
  • Faculty Equity Advisor (Eve Sweetser, 2019-2020). The Faculty Equity Advisor consults with the Graduate Admissions Committee to ensure equity and inclusion in the admissions and fellowships process, and serves as a resource for promoting a positive department climate by contributing to policies and practices that support equity and inclusion.
  • Linguistics Department officers: Keith Johnson (Chair), Susanne Gahl (Head Graduate Adviser), Terry Regier (GSI Advisor). All department officers are available to discuss issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion with anyone in our community.


Fostering a healthy climate is a continuous activity. The department chair and Climate Committee have organized several major events to focus sustained attention on this important topic.

Climate Office Hours

The faculty members of the Climate Committee offer office hours open to anyone who would like to discuss department climate-related themes in person. Please feel welcome to contact the Climate Committee's faculty members for specific information per semester.

Annual Survey of Graduate Students

Each academic year, the department sends out an anonymous survey to graduate students, seeking information about their satisfaction with academic life in the department, and their overall wellbeing. The results of this survey are aggregated and reported out; appropriate action is taken when themes emerge.

From the 2015-16 survey, it emerged that stress and mental health were widespread concerns. The department responded by arranging a workshop in the department featuring Dr. Aaron Cohen, of Counseling and Psychological Services at the Tang Center, who spoke about maintaining mental health in graduate school and described resources on campus that are available to students (and staff and faculty) when problems arise. (One can also consult the Mental Health Handbook for Faculty, Staff and GSIs.)

Another theme of the 2015-16 survey was that students wanted more feedback on their standing and progress in the program. The department responded by (re-)instituting annual letters to students letting them know the outcome of the annual faculty check-in regarding student progress.

The 2016-17 survey revealed stress and mental health again to be a top issue. Again, Dr. Aaron Cohen came for a visit with graduate students.

Other main themes of the 2016-17 survey centered around climate issues, including interpersonal interactions, a lack of sufficient ethnic diversity in the department, and inequities in or confusion about student access to departmental resources. The department responded by organizing a series of climate workshops with Prof. Rudy Mendoza-Denton (see below) and creating Climate web pages on the department website that discuss diversity and provide information about how graduate students can get access to needed resources.

Climate Workshops in 2017

In Spring 2017, Associate Dean Rudy Mendoza-Denton, whose portfolio in the College of Letters & Sciences is diversity, equity and inclusion, visited the department and, with a faculty member, co-facilitated two sessions on climate, to which all graduate students, staff and faculty in the department were invited. The meetings focused on how to deal with microaggressions, both as recipient and bystander; how to identify and report incidents of sexual harassment. Participants contributed (anonymous) scenarios in advance for discussion. The workshop provided participants with tips and tools for dealing with issues early before they turn into anything larger.