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SMTD’s Commitment to Act Against Racial Injustice

Jun 25, 2020 | DEI, Faculty, News, Staff, Students

We acknowledge and appreciate the feedback from SMTD students, faculty, and staff that was shared in the past few weeks, addressing actions that SMTD can and must take in addressing bias of all forms and, especially, racism.

In listening and learning during this time, we have been continuously humbled by the importance of recognizing intersectionality—learning how experiences dramatically vary based on each individual’s collective identities.

Systemic racism must stop, and as members of the SMTD community, we have the duty to take an active role in being a part of this societal change towards racial justice.

As a field, the performing arts is evolving and SMTD has a responsibility to prepare our students for careers that include diverse perspectives and skillsets. We are taking steps toward this change by developing three additional action areas that will be included in the updated SMTD DEI Strategic Plan. Each area was developed based on the feedback we recently received from the SMTD community:

Elevating voices and representation of BIPOC in the performing arts: We are committed to elevating BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voices within the SMTD community by addressing these issues with efforts that include the following:

  • We will increase funding, marketing, and space for SMTD student-led School and University performances, research, and events that elevate and celebrate artists and scholars of color, artistic responses to racism and historic and ongoing oppression, and demonstrate the value of anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts.
  • Admissions and Enrollment Management will update audition/interview requirements and processes this year to ensure a more inclusive and equitable approach to admission into SMTD.
  • SMTD leadership will engage in conversations about how we can expand our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as it is expressed in the academic, and artistic traditions we practice and present at SMTD. The goal of these conversations is to have an even greater diversity of repertory on our main stages.
  • The SMTD DEI Office, in coordination with other School and University units, will launch a school-wide training curriculum this year focused on inclusiveness in our culture and day-to-day practices in order to elevate the voices of the BIPOC community in the performing arts.

Anti-Racism and Inclusivity in Curriculum and Teaching: We will be launching a new faculty workshop series this summer that supports faculty in designing inclusive syllabi, curriculum, and teaching practices across SMTD. Additional efforts include the following:

  • A faculty committee will be established this year to assess core undergraduate academic classes to determine DEI-specific goals and objectives for the curriculum.
  • SMTD Faculty Affairs and the DEI Office will provide support for collaborative, anti-bias, and inclusive teaching. This approach will include opportunities for faculty to formulate syllabi and performance projects, and observe and provide feedback on each other’s classes, to ensure efficacy in student learning.
  • Department chairs will be required to report on DEI efforts in their departments to ensure accountability and progress with SMTD’s DEI Strategic Plan.
  • We will further recognize students, faculty, and staff who actively advance DEI efforts at SMTD.

Education and Professional Development: We will require anti-racism education and professional development opportunities for all SMTD faculty and staff. Our commitment is to support continuous learning of the scholarship about systemic racism and implicit bias. It is also our professional responsibility to ensure a safe and inclusive environment where everyone at SMTD can thrive. Examples of these learning expectations and opportunities will include:

  • We will provide guidance and best practices to equip our faculty and staff to tackle systemic issues of racism, inequality, and injustice in their departments and offices.
  • We will require Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) training for all department chairs and faculty involved with faculty hiring to ensure a more inclusive and equitable approach to hiring within SMTD.
  • We will offer mandatory bias mitigation training to faculty and staff that will include unconscious/implicit bias awareness training as well as harassment and discrimination prevention training.
  • Along with sharing anti-racism learning resources (e.g., web-based resources, and monthly reading and discussion groups), we will require anti-racism training for faculty and staff, beginning this summer (e.g., racial microaggression workshop offered during faculty and staff meetings).
  • We will offer intercultural learning opportunities to faculty and staff that will encourage global, inclusive, and growth mindsets around difference. For example, we are reviewing intercultural learning tools including Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), Cultural Intelligence and Cultural Values (CQ), and Intercultural Conflict Styles (ICS) for implementation this year.

These are our next steps but will not be our last.

We commit to consistent and transparent communication to our community as these efforts progress. Our leadership will hold each other accountable as we aim to make greater change at SMTD, as well as in the performing arts. We also encourage you to continue to be part of the dialogue and SMTD’s efforts to change.

We will also listen more, learn more, and do more to promote a culture in which every person feels they belong, are respected, and valued at SMTD.

With gratitude,

David Gier, Dean
Paul Boylan Collegiate Professor of Music

Julio Cardona, PhD
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Human Resources, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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