Update on anti-racism actions and goals for the School of Art

White text on a black background that reads "update on anti-racism actions and goals for the School of Art"

To the School of Art Student Community,

We, the faculty, staff, and head of the School of Art, stand with the movement for Black Lives. In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade and many other Black lives at the hands of police and fellow citizens, we take this moment to make meaningful and substantive changes in our school community to pursue anti-racism. We acknowledge the school’s own complicity in systemic racism, and our responsibility to do more to dismantle white supremacy and violence of all shapes and forms against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

During the month of June, the School of Art convened four listening sessions, attended by the school head, faculty, staff, undergraduates, and graduate students. Following these sessions, additional School of Art faculty and staff meetings, as well as ad hoc small group meetings, were held to hear from one another, further discuss the feedback from students and establish subsequent actions. The School of Art would like to thank all students, faculty, and staff who attended these meetings, which have allowed us to take some critical time to reassess and re-envision what actions are needed toward our ongoing goal of becoming a fully inclusive, multicultural, and anti-racist educational institution, and a creative community embedded more conscientiously in the city of Pittsburgh.

Our immediate actions include:

1) We continue to fully support the immediate appointment of an Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Fine Arts.

2) We will advocate for the commitments and initiatives outlined by President Farnam Jahanian in his July 2nd letter to the university community. The School of Art specifically supports group leaders Jim Garrett and Linda Babcock in their commitment to create a University Target of Opportunity fund, as outlined in the Fall 2019 diversity, equity, and inclusion campus commitments, enabling us to make new tenure-track faculty lines specifically to increase the diversity of our faculty.

3) We have formed a new School of Art Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) committee comprised of both faculty and staff to steer the school’s anti-racist action plan, and, in collaboration with administration and an external DEIJ consultant, the committee will do the following:

>investigate and implement school-wide intercultural competence assessments and anti-racist training in Fall 2020 and continue these assessments and trainings annually

>establish anti-racist guidelines and bias training for faculty recruitment and hiring search committees before any new faculty searches are commenced

>establish measures for collecting student feedback as it relates to issues surrounding DEIJ in the school and in the classroom, including creating guidelines for raising concerns with faculty, administration, and university resources outside the school

>conduct a DEIJ review over the course of the 2020-21 school year to provide the School of Art with the data, feedback, and assessments necessary to measure the efficacy and success of our actions, which will be assessed yearly

>include undergraduate and graduate students on the committee beginning Fall 2020

4) We will work with an external Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Equity expert, with the goal of engaging them this fall to:

>assist us in implementing assessments, workshops, training, and other learning experiences for our faculty, staff, and students

>advise us on how to take action towards change at both the individual and institutional systems levels

5) We will form a new School of Art Community Engagement Committee to:

>evaluate and re-establish the school’s relationship to and collaboration with communities and cultural institutions within Pittsburgh, giving special attention to our engagement with BIPOC communities and artists

>provide resources, lists of opportunities, calendars, and programming that better connect our students and our school to local organizations

6) We are expanding the school’s already existent Undergraduate Admissions Committee, who will do the following, with the goal to increase the number of BIPOC applicants and admitted students to the School of Art:

>work with the University Office of Admission to have more input over our admissions, a process we have already begun with the Dean of Admissions

>review and update the school’s application and admissions process and policies before the next application period to become more inclusive

>create new approaches to, outreach and engagement with high schools, including locally in Pittsburgh and nationally beginning this fall

>edit and evaluate the efficacy of School of Art promotional materials, programs, and events on an annual basis to represent and reach more BIPOC students

>advocate for the university to create more scholarships and financial aid for underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students, acknowledging that diversity is impacted by the financial resources we are able to offer students

7) The School of Art faculty commit to working with each other and the DEIJ Committee to review and revise curricula, course content, and pedagogy in ways that dismantle the hegemony of Western, white, patriarchal, and US-centric perspectives by:

>establishing a Curriculum Committee that is tasked with creating a central resource of tools for faculty to enhance curricula in intellectual areas where we are currently lacking

>supporting and funding faculty to further their knowledge and awareness of anti-racist education, and to engage in intercultural competence assessments and anti-racism training

>amending our syllabi to reflect anti-racist approaches and to make the history and practices of BIPOC artists, theorists, and writers working across time, regions, subject matter, and production methods foundational in our curricula (this process is currently underway)

>reviewing and revising our syllabi annually with the assistance of the Curriculum Committee

>striving to ensure that our pedagogy and teaching tools sustain and enhance a supportive environment in which we enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion

The school fully acknowledges that in addition to immediate and short-term actions, it must commit to the evolving work of identifying, unraveling, and removing systemic racism within all aspects of its curriculum and operations, and to further incorporate, elevate, and emphasize the voices of BIPOC artists, thinkers, historians, theorists, activists, and practitioners. This work will be ongoing and will take constant, consistent, renewed effort and commitment.

All of the above actions and intentions are known to and agreed upon by the faculty, staff, and head of the School of Art.

School of Art
Carnegie Mellon University
July 27th, 2020