CS 162 - Introduction to Computer Science II

Establishing a positive community

Every student should feel safe and welcome to contribute in this course. As the instructor, I will try to establish this tone whenever possible, but ultimately the responsibility for cultivating a safe and welcoming community belongs to the students—that means you!

Fortunately, being part of a safe and welcoming community is not too hard. A good place to start is to recognize (and continually remind yourself) of the following facts:

  1. Your classmates come from a variety of cultural, economic, and educational backgrounds. Something that is obvious to you may not be obvious to them.
  2. Your classmates are human beings with intelligence and emotions. This applies even when sending emails or posting messages on Canvas.
  3. Your classmates are here to learn. They have the right to pursue their education without being distracted by others' disruptive behavior, or made uncomfortable by inappropriate jokes or unwanted sexual interest.

If each of us remembers these facts and act with corresponding decency, respect, and professionalism, the course will certainly be better for everyone.

Some students might be inclined to shrug this off and perhaps crack a joke about safe spaces or political correctness. If that’s you, please also know that if you make a fellow student uncomfortable by mocking them, making inappropriate jokes, or making unwanted advances, that is harassment and will be taken seriously. (If you are a victim of harassment, please see the brief list of resources at the bottom of this page.)

However, I hope that we can all approach this positively. Treat your classmates as respected colleagues, support each other when needed, have fun without spoiling it for anyone else, and everybody wins.

Course Guidelines and Etiquette (Adapted from Dr. Susan Shaw, Oregon State University)

  1. Make a personal commitment to learning about, understanding, and supporting your peers and instructor.
  2. Think through and re-read your comments before presenting them.
  3. Never make derogatory comments toward another person in the class, including the instructor or assistants.
  4. Do not make sexist, racist, homophobic, or victim-blaming comments at all.
  5. Disagree with ideas, but do not make personal attacks.
  6. Assume the best of others in the class and expect the best from them.
  7. Acknowledge the impact of sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, and ableism on the lives of class members.
  8. Recognize and value the experiences, abilities, and knowledge each person brings to class. Value the diversity of the class.
  9. Pay close attention to what your classmates say. Ask clarifying questions, when appropriate. These questions are meant to probe and shed new light, not to minimize or devalue comments.
  10. Be open to being challenged or confronted on your ideas or prejudices.
  11. Challenge others with the intent of facilitating growth. Do not demean or embarrass others.
  12. Encourage others to develop and share their ideas.
  13. Participate actively in the discussions, having completed the readings and thought about the issues.
  14. Be willing to change.

Zooming out: diversity and computer science

On a broader note, computer science suffers from a lack of diversity. Part of this complicated problem is that underrepresented groups leave computer science programs at a higher rate, and evidence shows that this is a result of environmental conditions. I hope that our efforts in this course can help to improve this situation, in some small way, rather than make it worse.

Many open source projects and professional societies have recognized that the lack of diversity amongst contributors is a problem since they miss out on ideas, perspectives, and contributions from underrepresented groups. To address this, they have established community guidelines and codes of conduct to support communities that are more welcoming to new and diverse contributors. Here are a few examples that I recommend reading:

  1. Contributor Covenant: a code of conduct shared by many open source projects, including Atom, Eclipse, Mono, Rails, Swift, and many more.
  2. Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines
  3. Python Diversity Statement
  4. Ubuntu Code of Conduct
  5. ACM Code of Conduct

Note that promoting diversity is also a core value of Oregon State University and a goal of the College of Engineering.

Please make yourself aware of OSU's diversity documents and policies:
  1. Institutional Diversity
  2. Student Conduct
  3. Bullying Policy
  4. Discrimination and Harassment Policy

What to do about harassment

If you are the victim of harassment in this class, there are several resources available to you:

  1. You may schedule a private meeting to talk to me.
  2. Fill out the Bias Incident Report Form
  3. Fill out the Public Incident Report
  4. You may contact the University Ombuds Office for confidential guidance and advice.
  5. You may contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access to file an informal or formal complaint.