[PlanetKR] Short Survey on Diversity and Inclusion in KR

Sean Alexander ix at thepatient.org
Wed Oct 6 19:19:19 UTC 2021

Hi everyone and especially Vlad,

As a former Texan who had to leave Texas (where Vlad teaches) due to massive amounts of discrimination I witnessed or had to endure first-hand, my gut-reaction was to say "of course it's a Texan complaining about diversity" but that would be an unfair stereotype (one reason why these conversations are important). For me, the tipping point was in the late 90s when a young man, Matthew Shepherd, was murdered simply for being gay. In class, his death was celebrated as a win for the "moral majority" and a student turned to me and said "you're next." I brought this issue to the school administration, whose response was basically "we can't dictate what other people are allowed to say because that's their right but have you tried not being gay?" 

I know many Texans who would roll their eyes at this "I don't see a problem so there isn't one" attitude. The problem is that most of those Texans end up leaving Texas or aren't allowed into whatever passes for an "educational institution" in the state of Texas. So when Vlad says he doesn't see the problem, I genuinely believe him -- there may well be nothing to see because discrimination already won out where he is. 

As a second generation UT Austin student, I know very well what the demographic make-up of that school resembles. So if you would like to discuss, in public, how your world view contradicts basically everyone else's then by all means let's talk. We can start with how UT Austin allows students to use racial slurs in class, denies some students but not other students the ability to wear religious head coverings for ID cards, or how they do not allow disabled students in classes "due to cheating." All of those reflect either deep hatred, or pure ignorance. Of the two, ignorance is much easy to combat than hatred.

If any of you think there isn't a need for this kind of discourse, you probably should attend this instead of claim it's not needed because you are actually part of the problem, not some victim of an imaginary liberal agenda or however rationalise away the importance of diversity and inclusion.


> On Oct 6, 2021, at 11:25, Vladimir Lifschitz via PlanetKR <planetkr at kr.org> wrote:
> Dear Vanina,
> Thank you for your email.  I am wondering why you believe that we need
> to address the problem of building "a diverse and inclusive community,
> a space where everyone can belong and feel comfortable to freely express
> who they are.”  Have you seen any signs that the problem exists--that
> any participants of our conferences do not feel comfortable to freely
> express who they are?
> Best wishes,
> Vladimir
> --
> Vladimir Lifschitz
> Department of Computer Science    Office:  (512) 471-9564
> University of Texas at Austin     Fax:     (512) 471-8885
> 2317 Speedway, Stop D9500         E-mail:  vl at cs.utexas.edu
> Austin, TX 78712-1757, USA        WWW: http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~vl
>> Dear colleague,
>> KR is striving to build a diverse and inclusive community, a space where
>> everyone can belong and feel comfortable to freely express who they are. One
>> of the first steps towards meeting this goal is the definition of a Diversity
>> and Inclusion Policy. To make sure that all opinions and points of view are
>> taken into account, we reach out for your help in completing this survey.
>> Thank you for your time, your feedback is very important in helping build a
>> diverse, open, safe and inclusive atmosphere.
>> The KR21 D&I chairs
>> Marco, Magdalena and Vanina
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> PlanetKR at kr.org
> https://kr.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/planetkr

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