A Statement on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

From the School of Drama DEI Council
Created August 2020

As an institution, the School of Drama is committed to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion for people of all identities.  We also condemn all forms of racism, bias and racial injustice.  We want to be leaders in bringing about change and as educators, we acknowledge our unique and important opportunity to increase dialogue about the Black Lives Matter movement and support it through academic and artistic expression. We are committed to prioritizing the work of listening, reflecting, and taking action, and to understanding and responding to the lived experience of people of all identities in the school, including people of color.  We commit to listening actively and taking action.

We will effect real and meaningful change for our community. Community-wide reflection leading to systemic redesign is vital if we are to assure true diversity, equity and inclusion in the school.  Guided by the leadership and vision of the DEI Council, 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 all students, including our BIPOC students. These initiatives will help us become a diverse, equitable and  inclusive community committed to anti-racism in which every member, every citizen, will have agency and space and support to flourish.

DEI Action Plan

From School of Drama Leadership, in collaboration with the DEI Council
Created August 2020; Updated May 2022

Click each action item to see progress updates.

Support the immediate appointment of the advertised Assistant Dean for DEI position in the College of Fine Arts.

This was completed in August 2021 with the hire of Assistant Dean Valeria Martinez.

Establish an Anti-Racism and Racial Justice course.

In the fall of 2020, the School of Drama embarked on a remote, semester-long course taught by guest instructors from around the country. This course was taken by current students, staff, and faculty to bring the entire community up to a common baseline understanding and antiracist ethos in drama education. In the fall of 2021, the School of Drama hired a special visiting faculty member to teach Anti-Racist and Equitable Practices in Theater to all incoming students in an effort to continue and strengthen the foundation of those practices for our community and is now an official degree requirement for all BFA and MFA candidates. The fall of 2022 will see a new full-time tenure-track faculty member to teach this and other topics.

Reschedule fall 2020 production to the spring of 2021.

Doing this allowed the School of Drama more time to breathe as we all adapted to the new pandemic reality. In the spring of 2021, the School experimented with presenting remote and virtual productions, to varying degrees of success, but all were geared towards delivering the educational outcomes important to our students to the best of our ability given the pandemic.

Beginning in fall 2020, commit to the inclusion and support of the work of BIPOC and other diverse 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 were encouraged to review their syllabi with the aim of incorporating diverse perspectives and authors in course material, and revised policies and communications about attendance and grading to make them more equitable and inclusive.

 

Faculty members have spearheaded an effort to create an archive of materials that support the decolonizing of syllabi and the adoption of more equitable practices in the classroom and beyond. That archive is stored as an internal resource which can be accessed by all instructors.

 

Student ambassadors within the School of Drama created and led Instagram takeovers on the School’s official account throughout the school year. These takeovers were a way for current students to share their unique perspectives and experiences, and engage with prospective students in an authentic and unfiltered way. The School plans to continue student-led social media engagement on its official platforms.

Commit to reviewing student recruitment practices to assure that we are attracting a well-qualified, diverse applicant pool and to assure there are no barriers to access. The School will provide increased resources for recruitment in order to achieve this outcome.

Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, student audition and interview practices for the AY 2021-2022 and AY 2022-2023 incoming classes took place online or as part of School-sponsored visits. This resulted in a more diverse pool of applicants, and we are assessing how to continue and build upon these recruitment practices in the future. 

 

Rubrics for auditions and interviews have been rewritten to alleviate inherent bias, and the School continues to evaluate its practices.

Prioritize efforts to achieve equal opportunity and diversity in hiring of staff, faculty, and guest artists.

All School of Drama search committees have more than one member who have attended artEquity’s ‘Finding the Keys’ workshop – a training designed to engender more equitable hiring practices.

 

A DEI Rep role is offered to each search committee if the committee leadership doesn’t have training or feels that the committee would benefit.

 

All full-time, permanent faculty positions are advertised as open rank, encouraging a more diverse pool of applicants.

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 of Drama continues to work with the College of Fine Arts and the University to clarify reporting processes. The current University system can be found here.

Provide budgetary support for the School of Drama’s DEI Council to stage events, bring in guest speakers, access publications and materials, and promote activism.

The School of Drama committed $70,000 to bring in DEI-related guests and special visiting faculty.

 

Guest visits funded by the Student Experience Fund included: Ariane Barnes, David Stewart, Lawrence Bennett, Clint Ramos, Dominique Fawn Hill, Devika Ranjan, and Nia Johnson.

 

The School is working to make similar funding available for future years.

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

Open access to leadership at the School and College levels has been available through open office hours with the Dean, Assistant Dean of DEI, and Interim Head of the School of Drama.

 

DEI student representatives organized “Communi-TEA” gatherings as a space for Drama students to practice community care, work through harm, and promote a healthy culture within the School.

 

The Trans, Intersex, Nonbinary Alliance (TINA) is a University-wide support and action network that aims to increase acceptance in the campus environment, improve accountability processes, and provide support through validating all identities and experiences. TINA is always open to new Trans, Intersex and Non-Binary members whether they are staff, students or faculty. We also have a handful of active alumni.

Provide ongoing DEI training for School of Drama faculty and staff.

Faculty engaged in workshops with the Eberly Center focused on strategies for building equitable classroom and learning environments.

 

Other workshops and trainings include:

AY 19–20: Two workshops with Inclusant, along with a School of Drama climate survey.
AY 20–21: The Listening Workshop for faculty and staff; Anti-Racist & Equitable Practices in Theater course for the entire School of Drama.
AY 21–22: Three workshops led by special visiting faculty for Anti-Racist & Equitable Practices in Theater.

 

Individual trainings as requested by and recommended to faculty and staff.

Take measures to enhance and promote content safety in production.

As a result of an on-campus workshop in fall of 2019, and ongoing subsequent training, several School of Drama faculty members now serve as Intimacy Directors and Consultants on school productions.

 

The School of Drama formed a Content Advisory Committee and now provides content and sensory advisories for all productions. These advisories are made available on the School’s website as well as at each performance.

Take measures to promote equitable and sustainable production practices.

In AY 19–20, the School of Drama eliminated 10 out of 12 rehearsals, and changed the end of tech rehearsals from 11:30 pm to 10:30 pm. These changes were to make the experience of working on productions while also attending classes more personally sustainable. As later pointed out in the We See You White American Theater demands, the practice of 10 out of 12s is “seeped in capitalist and white supremacist cultures” and falls most heavily on populations with the least resources. We are happy that our choice to eliminate this practice is in line with, and supportive of the WSYWAT demands.

 

Another practice called out by both We See You White American Theater and No More 10 out of 12’s is the regular industry practice of 6-day rehearsal weeks. In AY 21–22, the School of Drama moved almost completely to a 5-day rehearsal week. We will apply that schedule to all productions in the 2022-23 season. In AY 22-23, we are planning a 5-day production week, including for load-in, tech, and performance.

 

The School makes ongoing efforts to better understand how student’s goals and lived experiences intersect with casting and production assignments.