June 9, 2020
Dear Fellow Alumni,
What happens to one of us affects all of us.
We Caltech Alumni are, by and large, a community that sought science, engineering, academia, and other intellectual pursuits as these practices enable us to make positive contributions to the world. We strive for the equity that our Honor System represents, and education, knowledge, and compassion are effective tools to combat discrimination, racism, and oppression. However, current events remind us, in stark images and false narratives, that the real world is far from this ideal. Indeed, many among us have our own stories and experiences that reveal the discrimination and oppression that still permeates society today.
What we face is the all-important question: what do we do? We are a community that acts—presented with an intellectual challenge, we would heartily dive in and puzzle it out. This issue of racism against the Black community, in particular, should be no different. Black Lives do Matter. We must continue to press the sentiment until there is no one left who would dispute it or rationalize it however well-intentioned the alternate perspective may be. In brief, inaction is not an option as we are Techers, and our training and education drive us to tackle complex problems that most challenge society—racism included.
To this end, we must adopt a Caltech-level approach to address discrimination, racism, and oppression. In the same way that space exploration, directed evolution, gravitational wave research, and so many other Caltech pursuits advance humanity, we must take this privilege of education and our position to improve society.
Know that your Alumni Association is taking on this charge and we commit to three specific actions.
- Become greater allies of diversity and inclusion (D&I) by sponsoring education seminars that highlight their criticality. These programs will be generated to increase our awareness and encourage open dialogue, not only amongst ourselves but also with our extended communities in which we reside.
- Ensure appropriate level of D&I to be present not only on the composition of the Board of Directors and staff, but also in Board practices and existing programing. Closer examination of the content and messaging will be conducted to eliminate implicit bias and unconscious discrimination.
- Partner with the Institute to provide support and mentorship for alumni and students, especially in areas of career advice, diversity, and inclusion.
These are our initial efforts to join the chorus of other exemplary ambassadors who oppose discrimination and share in our desire for the Caltech Alumni Association to embody a culture of belonging where all alumni feel included, supported, and welcomed. Please join us in our efforts and we welcome your suggestions of how we can create meaningful change.
Very truly yours,
Chris Bryant, CAA President
Satoshi Ohtake, CAA Vice-President