CFPA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness Task Force Report June 10, 2021
Submitted June 10, 2021
Pursuant to the College of Fine and Performing Arts Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Charge, its members convened virtually over the course of the Winter and Spring Quarters of 2021 to investigate, according to our Charge:
- how we as a college of artists and designers are presently experiencing institutional and systemic racism, and to assess the college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and programs.
- how to serve and support the college’s Global Majority students more effectively both during their studies at Western Washington University and in their post-graduate pursuits within their chosen fields.
- how to effectively recruit [and retain] more Global Majority students by ascertaining the unique challenges they face.
We respectfully and gratefully make the following Report:
First and foremost, our members clearly affirm the crucial need for a permanent college committee concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the CFPA. We are alarmed at the fact that the Task Force, having met its Charge, could subsequently be disbanded. This would effectively end the work before we have barely begun, and worse, tokenize it. Furthermore, members desire to capitalize on the momentum built over the course of Winter and Spring by committing to continue our work during Summer Quarter. Thus, we seek funding to compensate faculty, students, and staff who are not contracted during this time. The genesis of this Task Force marks a watershed moment (university-wide, nationally, and globally) during which we have been reckoning with white supremacy both historical and present, as well as myriad structures and institutions within our society which makes it inherently unequal, discriminatory, and outright harmful to many. At this crucial moment, we have witnessed a wellspring of initiatives and investigations, as well as policy changes and their implementations, not least on WWU’s campus. We understand the work of this Task Force cohort and that of a future permanent committee should serve as a bridge between the aims and efforts of each of the CFPA Departments and that of the broader university community.
Secondly, the Task Force has composed a Mission Statement (Appendix A) to explain clearly and carefully the aims and values of our members, as representatives of both our respective Departments and of the CFPA. Its primary tenets state our commitment to:
- Identifying patterns of racism, sexism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, classism, ableism, nativism, ageism, religious, body type and other forms of discrimination and oppression that negatively affect the CFPA community
- Developing and/or identifying programs that help educate our community in DEI issues to further a transformed culture of support, acceptance, and celebration that serves a diverse student body in achieving
their educational and life goals
- Listening to and caring for those affected by inequity, providing a platform of trust, action, and empowerment
- Helping the CFPA community transform systems dominated by voices of white supremacy, in favor of meaningful approaches that include, amplify, and celebrate a range of perspectives representative of our broader community, nation, and world
- Researching and supporting actions that can be taken to empower the faculty, staff, and students to help administrators work with the United Faculty of Western Washington (UFWW), Public School Employees (PSE), Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE), and Professional Staff Organization PSO), and the student body to support a transformative culture that can be enforced by the Administration of the CFPA.
Finally, members have identified the following short-term actions and long-term recommendations as urgent CFPA priorities:
- Communicate* CFPA’s process and progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and programs with the aim of connecting them both within the College and across WWU’s campus, including the Office of Equity; add this information to the CFPA Annual Report (immediate and ongoing)
- Conduct a net promoter score assessment (quantitative data) from historically marginalized student populations as well as faculty and staff concerning their CFPA experiences, building on similar polling already undertaken in Design; gather more qualitative data in a safe and respectful manner that builds on the informal departmental reports made to the Task Force**; secure funding to pay participants (short-term)
- Change program application and audition requirements to make them more accessible, such as the adjustments being made in Theatre and Dance (short-term)
- Renovate our facilities, namely the Art Annex, to make them ADA accessible; secure funding for such (short-term)
- Hold college-wide anti-racism training workshops; also and specifically, teach responsible and inclusive pedagogy; continue other DEI training (e.g. concerning intersectional discrimination; settler colonialism); commit funding for such (short-term)
- Create and sustain robust mentoring and support programs, including scholarships (such as the growing endowment in Music) and gathering spaces, for diverse/marginalized students; commit funding for such (long-term)
- Decolonize curricula, specifically its focus on white supremacy; diversify the “canon” and question the reproduction of harmful art (long-term)
- Increase the diversity of faculty and staff; secure funding for such (long-term)
- Recruit and retain a more diverse student body; consider lobbying for tuition waivers applicable to out-of-state Global Majority students (long-term)
- Appoint a Chief Diversity Officer within the CFPA Dean’s office who is professionally qualified to coordinate these efforts within the college; secure funding for such (long-term).
*Towards this end, the Task Force has created a WWU-based website with members’ names, faces, and contact details as a landing page to assist anyone who needs information or support, from which we plan to hold live town halls and other feedback sessions in order to foster continued collaboration between students, faculty, and staff. It will include the minutes of Task Force meetings, and also link to both WWU and Departmental resources (e.g. Office of Equity, Bias Response Team, Theatre & Dance’s Equity & Accountability site). We realize that we must build trust and enthusiasm for this work through transparent documentation. We also propose posting this very report to the site, once it has been submitted. We are open to other platforms as well, such as following the example of the Dance Department by inviting students to the first 10 minutes of faculty meetings.
**Task Force members wish to acknowledge that we are majority white- and female-presenting. We welcome the work of abolishing discrimination, oppression, and white supremacy as our own, but we also recognize the limits of our empathy and authority concerning experiences beyond our imagining, and our need to listen to those most effected.
We the Task Force members contend that these actions and recommendations are congruent with the CFPA mission, specifically:
- To equip students with the creative and intellectual tools necessary for success in the arts
- To enable students to value, understand and challenge traditional concepts
- To maintain an environment that supports diversity, reflection and dedication to creative pursuits
- To promote critical thinking, innovative ideas and active arts leadership.
The above list of actions and recommendations serves each of these in different ways, but especially responds to the fourth and sixth bullet points that explicitly refer to diversity and multiculturalism, which must be intentionally cultivated in a predominantly white institution such as WWU. We furthermore contend that these actions and recommendations are even more applicable to the following WWU values, stated as core to its mission, of:
- Commitment to equity and justice, and respect for the rights and dignity of others
- Pursuit of excellence, in an environment characterized by principles of shared governance, academic freedom and effective engagement
- Integrity, responsibility and accountability in all our work.
The Task Force’s list of suggested actions and recommendations applies to each of these values, but most explicitly to WWU’s commitment to equity and justice as well as the rights and dignity of others. We feel that the disciplines pursued within the CFPA are uniquely suited to advancing social justice. The arts offer unparalleled opportunities for the expression of accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion within the spaces they are viewed and performed. In the past, daring works of art, design, music, dance, and theatre by courageous creatives have broken with tradition by intentionally dismantling various structures and expectations in order to progress their craft, their discipline, and their society. During a time of social, political, and emotional upheaval, the arts have transformative potential to reveal and to proclaim, to challenge and to inspire, in the pursuit of both personal and collective truth, healing, hope, and joy. As future artists, designers, musicians, composers, dancers, choreographers, and theatre-makers, our students are the crucibles in which such transformations can occur. They are not problems to be solved; they are human beings at the center of what we do and why we are here.