School Works to Improve Diversity
“Until it becomes a priority for everyone to start asking questions of themselves and others, all the talk about diversity in the world won’t change the community here or anywhere.”
This statement concluded a Letter to the Editor to F Newsmagazine, written in March 2013, by members of the student group Black at SAIC. The letter aimed to address perceived racial exploitation in certain student work, as well as to address the need for a more even and educated playing field for students. As the Fall 2013 semester begins, the school’s official dialogue on race and other forms of diversity is continuing and, hopefully, progressing.
A series of campus dialogues about issues of race in the arts followed the Black at SAIC letter, contributing to previous discussions within the school. A panel, “Controversy, Community and Curriculum” was convened in April 2013, bringing together four faculty members and moderated by Black at SAIC member Rashayla Brown. While a plethora of important ideas and suggestions were raised, many agreed that students and faculty needed more training on how to properly and effectively initiate conversations on race within the classroom and in critiques.
Since 2009 the school has had an official plan to accomplish a more effective discussion of difference. The Diversity Action Group, convened as part of the school’s Strategic Plan, has held three well-attended symposia bringing together staff, faculty and students to better understand what the school does well and what it needs to do better.
The research and dialogue phase of DAG is nearly complete. According to DAG Co-Chair and Assistant Professor Karyn Sandlos, “We hope to finalize recommendations [for the President and Provost] at our meeting on Sept 11. It will take a few more weeks to format the final document.”
In addition to these impending recommendations, the school has appointed Rashayla Brown, one of the members of Black at SAIC, as the new Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs.