Anti-Racism and Racial Justice at the School of Drama

As an institution, the School of Drama has been complicit in systemic racism and we deeply regret the lack of effective change and leadership on this matter. As an educational and producing organization our community did not prioritize the work of listening, reflecting, and taking action to repair the damage caused by white supremacy. We acknowledge that we have not been appropriately responsive to the lived experience of people of color in the school. We also realize that we have not been prepared to face the scale of this issue until now, and we apologize for not listening actively and taking action sooner. An apology is not enough. We must act.

We will effect real and meaningful change for our community. Community-wide reflection leading to systemic redesign is vital if we are to eliminate racism, bias, and the divisive impact of white privilege and colonialism. Guided by the leadership and vision of the DE&I Committee, we commit to a suite of connected initiatives and actions designed to drive meaningful and lasting transformation.

Each student’s unique educational journey, goals, life experience and voice will be recognized, honored and supported by all facets of our community. Our classes, labs, class materials, productions, assignments and group projects will be restructured to incorporate diverse content, approaches, and voices, within safe and equitable classroom experiences and balanced and meaningful production opportunities for our BIPOC students. These initiatives will scaffold the community-wide undertaking to evolve into an anti-racist community in which every member, every citizen, will have agency and space and support to flourish.

CMU School of Drama DE&I Action Plan:

  • Support the immediate appointment of the advertised Assistant Dean for DE&I position in the College of Fine Arts.

  • Establish an Anti-Racism and Racial Justice course to be held in fall 2020 for the faculty, staff, and students of the SOD community. Led by professional specialists from outside the School to be identified by the DE&I committee, the course will include mixed population discussion groups aimed at engaging in vital conversations. Beyond the fall semester, this course will evolve to become both a curricular requirement and ongoing training for all incoming students, faculty, and guests.

  • Reschedule fall 2020 production to the spring of 2021. This will grant our community space to engage in a focused manner in anti-racist learning and to adjust to a new teaching and learning environment in the fall semester. Further, it will enable students, faculty, and staff to incorporate anti-racist learning in work on all planned shows moving forward.

  • Beginning in fall 2020, commit to the inclusion and support of the work of BIPOC artists and scholars in all class materials, projects, and assignments, as well as in School publications, social media platforms, and the annual season of productions. For fall 2020, Drama faculty will review their syllabi with the aim of incorporating diverse perspectives and authors in course material; revising policies and communications about attendance and grading to make them more equitable and inclusive; and appending a School-wide DE&I statement. Faculty members desiring support in these revisions will have access to School and University resources.

  • Commit to reviewing our student recruitment practices to dismantle all structures and obstacles that have hindered access for BIPOC candidates across options to apply and advance through the process. The school will provide increased resources for recruitment in order to achieve this outcome.

  • Prioritize diversity in hiring of staff, faculty, option guests, and guest artists. The school will provide bias and anti-racism training for search committees and look at open level ranking for appointments to attract a wider and more diverse pool of applicants for all positions. Guidelines for all guests will be developed or expanded to include explicit expectations about DE&I principles and shared values.

  • Promote and familiarize the school community with the university’s established bias reporting process to better investigate and respond to incidents of concern. The School will develop and publicize a robust, consistent strategy for responding to reported incidents with special attention to protecting individuals from retaliation.

  • Provide budgetary support for the School of Drama’s DE&I Committee to stage events, bring in guest speakers, access publications and materials, and promote activism.

  • Offer regularly scheduled open forum sessions and establish affinity groups/safe spaces for ongoing open communication, discussion, brainstorming, sharing, and uplifting all voices in our community.

  • Respectfully,

    CMU School of Drama DE&I Committee