Office of Access + Equity
“Artists are here to disturb the peace.”
– James Baldwin, Conversations with James Baldwin (1989)
The Office of Access and Equity (OAE) supports the College of Arts and Architecture in establishing a culture of anti-racism and anti-oppression that embraces individual identities, fosters inclusion, broadly promotes equity and a culture of belonging for students, faculty and staff.
In February 2023, Associate Dean Wilson summarized the work her office has been doing with colleagues in the College of Arts & Architecture in her second All-College Virtual Town Hall: What Does Change Look Like? (click link to watch replay). She shared the context for how she is viewing our current educational environment and the Town Hall included a panel of administrators, directors, faculty and student representation that shared what change looks like in their respective areas. The A&A community had the opportunity to place themselves on a continuum of individual change, and to discuss possible next steps in moving towards personal activism and a better understanding of equity and inclusion.
124 Borland Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-2591
Contact: Jen Curry Morgan
5 simple things...
…you can do NOW to foster equity, inclusion and belonging
Use Pronouns. Respect individual preferences by sharing and allow others to acknowledge individual identities when introducing themselves in the classroom, online, and at events. Include your preferred pronouns in prominent places like email signatures, on zoom, name badges and business cards. Penn State’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity offers suggested formats for email signatures, suggested language to address pronouns in syllabi and handbooks, as well as other resources, like gender diversity terminology.
Find authentic ways to acknowledge the land. Penn State developed a land acknowledgement in collaboration with the Indigenous Peoples Student Association and the Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance. Start by learning about the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 – a part of the great land grab that funded the establishment of agricultural-based colleges such as Penn State with expropriated Indigenous lands. Think of a land acknowledgement as a starting point to learn more about Indigenous America.
Provide captioning, accommodations and be aware of ableist language. Provide opportunities for all bodies and abilities to participate in your programs, classes, and events remotely or in-person, and to access your communications. There are resources for those that need accommodations and those wanting to provide them including best practices for accessible instruction. Unconscious bias can show up in the words we use. Become aware of common, ableist language you might not know you are using.
Offer space. Significant and traumatic events are happening at an alarming rate and becoming commonplace. Let’s not numb our humanity. Provide time in the classroom, at meetings, and events to process and check in about where people are at. If individuals needs more support, Penn State resources for students, faculty and staff are available.
Commit to learning what you don’t know. Various resources, panels, lectures, and reading lists are readily available from our library, university, and through simple online searches. Educate yourself about anti-racism, other forms of oppression, privilege, and how to be more inclusive and support a culture of belonging. Self-education, increasing your awareness of various lived experiences, and adopting inclusive practices is a process that starts where you are.
(an occasional series)
In a recent Op-Doc in the New York Times (February 22, 2023), multi-disciplinary artist, filmmaker, and educator Angelo Madsen Minax, shows a work originally commissioned for the exhibition Ghosts of Lost Futures, (2021) at the Dallas Museum of Art.
Minax was one of ten artists invited to make work from the news archive the year the Southern Methodist University’s G. William Jones Film and Video Collection in Dallas was founded in 1970. These news clips from over 50 years ago, are dramatically edited together to highlight the same issues we are dealing with today. As Minax remarks: “…climate disaster, racially motivated violence, police brutality, poverty, war, domestic violence, housing crisis and voter fraud,” are part of the same coverage in 2023 news cycles. He reimagined the figures from the 1970 coverage as, “…pseudo-divine bearers of a potential truth…” If this is true, it is interesting to consider: have we learned or heeded anything from these “truth bearers” to affect the direction or our responsibility to our future–our present today?
Video length: 8m 47s
Event source link: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/22/opinion/stay-with-me-world-devastating-place.html
Virgil Abloh at Harvard GSD
Trained architect, engineer, designer and creative director Virgil Abloh (1980-2021), talks to students from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and local high schoolers about his manifesto and the principles underlying his creative practice.
A prolific darling of fashion and design who succumbed to a rare and aggressive form of cancer at 41 years old, he presents a guidebook to the next generation of artists and designers. Part spectacle and performance, Abloh’s lecture (GSD’s most watched), shares recent projects, his mentors (young, old and no longer with us), and other inspirations that have informed his collaborations with companies like IKEA and Nike, and artists like Kanye West and Lil Uzi Vert. A traveling exhibition of his work is currently at the Brooklyn Museum through January 2023.
Video length: 1:10:30 | Filmed: Cambridge Mass, October 26, 2017
Event source link: https://www.gsd.harvard.edu/event/virgil-abloh/
The Office of Access and Equity is actively compiling a list of resources within the University and the community at large that provide critical information related to navigating, understanding, and engaging with the broad topics of diversity, equity, access, inclusion, community, anti-racism, and belonging. This list already is deep and powerful – exploring topics such as white supremacy and privilege, supporting people of color and other marginalized groups, and education for racial equity – and the list will continue to expand.
OAE sponsored workshops
Faculty and staff are invited to take advantage of workshops organized by the Office of Access & Equity. These workshops are designed to develop and strengthen individual competencies that can contribute collectively to transforming “…our curricula, values, standards, ideal, policies, and practices,” to ensure greater equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging throughout the College. Various workshops will be offered during the academic year.
May 2022 Equity Week Workshops
A Practice of “No:” Learning Self-generosity
Exclusively for Female Faculty & Staff
Womyn are socially trained to be accommodating, nice, and not to make waves. The skill that makes some of us attuned to and inclined to prioritize the needs of others, is rarely acknowledged as the emotional intelligence that can be used effectively in professional settings and for our own benefit. This workshop is meant to foster community around female empowerment at our college and to (re)train some of our socially learned and virtuous instincts of generosity towards ourselves. How can we intentionally say yes to ourselves (or no to others), responsibly, thoughtfully, and consciously? When is it ok and appropriate to give ourselves permission to put ourselves first, and how do we put aside any guilt?
Led by: Folayemi Wilson, Associate Dean Access & Equity
Date: Tuesday, May 10
Format: (75 mins, Zoom)
Developing Conflict Competency: Moving from Avoidance to Opportunity
Especially for Staff
Most of us think of conflict as something to be avoided to the greatest extent possible. Faced with conflict, our wellbeing suffers. We lose sleep, stress levels increase and productivity decreases. Unfortunately, unaddressed conflict rarely disappears. By enhancing competency around conflict, the College can advance its goal of establishing a campus climate in which everyone is treated with respect and empowered to do their best work. This program highlights some simple tools for changing problematic dynamics and achieving better outcomes in difficult situations.
Led by: Julie Showers, Showers Consulting, University of Minnesota Law School
Date: Tuesday, May 10
Format: (90 mins, Zoom)
Beyond Inclusion: Transforming Syllabi and Assignments for Equity
Especially for Full-time, Part-time & Adjunct Faculty
Participants learn how to utilize equitable language and pedagogy in their syllabi and assignments including: what is equitable language and pedagogy; how to recognize biased and harmful language and to create equitable syllabi and assignments; what specific resources can be drawn on for any course; how to build awareness and knowledge; and how to sustain efforts and assess results.
Led by: Bridget Kelly, Associate Professor, University of Maryland
Date: Wednesday, May 18
Format: (60 mins, Zoom)
Imagining a culture of equity + belonging
Where do we go from here?
A Report to the College of Arts and Architecture
My Fall 2021 listening tour initiated a period of listening as research about the culture of the College of Arts and Architecture and individual concerns regarding equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging. I spoke with more than 50 representatives of the college, including students, staff, faculty, college leadership and administration, as well as a few members of the university-at-large.
My role in this inaugural position is to lead with the cooperation and collective support of this community in realizing, among the others, one of four important college strategic goals to:
…establish a culture of anti-racism and anti-oppression that embraces individual identities, fosters a culture of inclusion and promotes equity through our curricula, values, standards, ideals, policies and practices.”
There is good news: the college has already started down this path of welcoming and fostering diversity. My report provides significant details regarding the listening tour process and data analysis, as well as key recommendations and goals. Moreover the report highlights other equity issues and actions impacting the college.
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 opened long-held wounds in communities of color and a reckoning with racism and social justice movements in our country. Various terminology has emerged, and some have been redefined within the spirit of our current moment. These terms are fluid and perpetually in motion. This list of over 100 terms from the NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, represents a comprehensive and fairly up-to-date accounting and contextualization of current terminology with references for further study. A cursory review is recommended to know what is included, as a guide for classroom and other discourse and research, and to contribute to a common language we can use at our college and with our colleagues within the university-at-large.
Compilation of the NASPA Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community Terminology Guide was coordinated by Dr. Jasmine D. Collins (2020-21)
Folayemi Wilson (she/they), formerly Co-director of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor of Art at Columbia College Chicago, was named to the inaugural position of Associate Dean for Access and Equity in the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, August 2021.
Wilson is an object and image maker, whose work explores the Black Atlantic experience though sculptural and multimedia installations presenting speculative fictions that reference history, integrating inspiration from American vernacular architecture, literature, and science fiction. She is co-founder and principal of blkHaUS studios, a socially focused design studio that uses design as an agent of change to uplift and transform marginalized communities. Wilson has served on the National Board of the American Institute of Graphic Designers (AIGA), the American Craft Council, and was appointed to the City of Chicago’s Monument Advisory Committee.
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