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This is the home of the Math Community Guidelines space.

Below are the clauses of our community guidelines, organized by the topics from our Diversity Workshop. You may list any comments in the comment section at the bottom of the page.


Workplace Humor

Be wary of saying things that may not be well-received (i.e. If it matters who is in the room, it is probably not a good thing to say). This is especially true regarding our students.

Know your audience.

See more in "Reaction."


Sensitivity to Human Identities

We are all human.

We can having varying identities: race, nationality, appearance, gender, orientation, culture, personality and interests. Essentially, anything you can identify with.

Always approach differences with empathy and patience.

Be mindful of when you are making a joke versus reinforcing a stereotype.


Reactions to Behavior

When something happens, all parties (the "perpetrator", the "victim" and the "bystanders") are accountable in some way.

We can alleviate a situation with simple questions of clarification. For example, "What you are saying sounds like <<impression>>. Is that what you mean?"

We all want to be corrected. We don't want to offend anyone. Most instances of offense are unintentional.

It's better to confront a situation (gently) as it is happening, so that its course can be corrected. Waiting to speak privately makes it harder for others to understand and remember the details.

We should reflect on everything we do.



We should foster the habit of inclusiveness by organizing group lunches.

Cultural food can be a good conversation starter.

If English is your first language, remember...

  • language is the biggest barrier for international students; they are self-conscious about their English-language skills. 
  • it is important to show patience. 
  • make it clear that you don't mind when another person asks you to repeat what you've said.
  • moving to a new country comes with many challenges. It can be an isolating experience without a solid support network.

If English is not your first language, remember...

  • no one minds if you make a mistake. We're impressed that you speak another language and are working to master it.
  • don't be afraid to ask questions. It is the best way to improve.
  • it is ok to ask someone to speak slowly and define words.
  • share your culture and customs with others. Everyone is curious and appreciates learning new things.

Academically Disparaging Attitudes

Difficulties are common in graduate school and we have all experienced them. It is important to talk when you feel frustrated. You are not alone.

It is perfectly acceptable to not know something. That is the point of being in (graduate) school: to learn!

Everyone belongs here. Everyone who gets in is capable of graduating.

We are not competing with each other.

Possible future project: make a book of anecdotes detailing experiences in a graduate math program.


Respecting Our Students

We will not think of our students as a grade. They are people, not numbers.

Be careful when you vent about students. When you need to do so, do so privately.

The grad lounge is an inappropriate place to interact with our students (office hours, etc). As a general rule, we should do our best to avoid bringing undergraduates there.

When you say something about a student, reflect about how you would feel if a professor said that about you.

We are always role models for students (and undergrads, in general), both on and off campus.



Everyone is going to gossip. It is part of venting.

When you need to vent, be mindful of the setting. Try to do so with close friends and people outside the department. Otherwise, you may damage the reputations of others and actually harm them.

Be discrete about sensitive information.

If you notice gossip getting out of line in a conversation, try to steer the discussion toward something more constructive.

We should have games in the graduate lounge so there are other things to do than gossip.



In research...

  • be dedicated to your work–this is a special opportunity and not everyone is as fortunate.
  • be courteous and respectful to others while discussing research.
  • try to organize and participate in seminars. Build your mathematical community.
  • be appreciative of different fields. Every field has value and we gain nothing from being disparaging.

In teaching and in office hours...

  • be punctual.
  • do not be condescending–do not raise your voice, do not take things personally, and be patient.
In your office and the lounge...
  • keep in mind that you are still in a semi-professional environment.
  • be mindful of your officemates–talk softly and smile.
When online....
  • be mindful of your posts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. if you are friends with professional colleagues.

Feel free to express your support of the community guidelines by writing your name (and an optional comment) here:

Sara Jamshidi – Learning of what was discussed in the various groups has been an inspiring and uplifting experience; I am grateful to be a part of such a meaningful project and I intend to do my best to live up to these ideals.

Diego Chaves - I want to be in a place like this. (big grin)

Nate Brown – You guys are the shiznit! Soooo proud of all ya'll...

David Zach - I pledge to do my best to follow these guidelines. I think that our department could be greatly improved if we all do these things!

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