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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What kinds of technical assistance has NASA offered to grantees?

Answer: One of NASA's goals in conducting compliance reviews is to promote voluntary compliance in these programs. Accordingly, where institutions could strengthen existing compliance, NASA has provided detailed technical assistance in the form of proposed options for enhancing equal opportunity efforts. Some examples include:

  • NASA has recommended better dissemination of information regarding the Title IX Coordinator where we have found that program students are not familiar with the name or the office of the Title IX Coordinator;
  • NASA has recommended improvements to recipients’ internal grievance processes where we have found such processes can be improved along the lines recommended by DOJ and/or DOEd, e.g., wide dissemination of procedures, letting students and faculty know that they can file a complaint with the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.
  • Some of the institutions do not promote diversity on their program Web sites. Accordingly, NASA has recommended that schools review their outreach and information materials to address this.
  • Where allegations of inappropriate gender, race, age, or disability-related remarks and conduct were raised during student and/or faculty interviews, NASA recommended the department take appropriate steps to look into the allegations and provide additional and more effective anti-harassment training for faculty and teaching assistants.

NASA has also offered offered technical assistance in the form of a "promising practices" publication, a self-evaluation guide and brochures.

Question: What promising practices has NASA found among grantees?

  • Accessible Program Leadership. The department has taken efforts to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, such as by holding regular “Town Hall Meetings” hosted by the department chair. The Town Hall meetings provide opportunities for open dialogue and to publicly recognize and honor students who are doing excellent work.
  • Classroom Experiences. The department provides a survey course consciously designed to appeal to a broadly diverse group of students. The course includes presentations from professionals in STEM fields as a way of providing role models for students. The course also addresses the practical applications of STEM in order to appeal to a more diverse group of students.
  • Family-Friendly Policies. Examples of institutional commitment to family-friendly policies include: family housing for students with children, affordable on-site day care for students and faculty, a Work-Life Resource Center, flexible work schedules, and leaves of absence to permit students and faculty to take time for childbearing and dependent care.
  • Periodic Self-evaluation. The department regularly conducts surveys of graduate students who received offers but declined to enroll in the program, allowing more informed decisions on ways to increase diversity.
  • Support networks. STEM departments work closely with and support student organizations that provide mentoring, peer support, job search assistance, leadership development, and social events. These student organizations can be extremely valuable in helping underrepresented students, especially new students, to feel they belong in the program.

Question: How does NASA select grantees for compliance reviews?

Answer: NASA selects recipients for compliance reviews based on neutral selection criteria specified in our regulations. Once an institution has been selected, NASA notifies the head of the institution, identifying the regulatory authority under which the review will be conducted and the scope of the review, e.g., Title IX regulatory requirements applicable to the institution as a whole, department or program to be reviewed.

Question: What steps would NASA take if an institution were found to be non-compliant?

Answer: In accordance with Department of Justice and NASA regulations, NASA would make every effort to bring the school into voluntary compliance. For example, NASA might enter into a written voluntary compliance agreement with the school. NASA would not move to impose the ultimate sanction of funding withdrawal unless all efforts to bring the school into voluntary compliance failed. (See 14 C.F.R. § 1253.605, incorporating the investigative, compliance, and enforcement procedural provisions of NASA regulations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d) at 14 CFR 1250.105 through 1250.110).

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