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Access + Equity Town Hall, Feb 2023

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2023 OAE Town Hall
“What Does Change Look Like?”

Arts and Architecture All-College Virtual Town Hall, February 2023

One hundred and fifteen members of the Arts and Architecture community attended the February 8, 2023, Town Hall. Forty-five provided feedback about their experience through the post-town hall survey. The majority of the survey’s respondents were staff (60%), followed by faculty (24.4%), students and administrators (both, 6.7%).

In summarizing some of the feedback, it is clear everyone appreciated student participation and wanted to hear more from them, along with additional opportunities for intimate and large group discussions. Accountability, making student and other issues more visible, and creating a culture of inclusive responsibility are still important to many in creating an equitable culture of belonging. Respondents got the most out of the breakout groups and the panel.

The purpose of bringing everyone together for the Town Hall in the context of What Does Change Look Like? was to provide real time examples from members of our community advancing our anti-racist and anti-oppressive goals, and to share the work the OAE has engaged in in the past year. Although significant work was presented, for some, it wasn’t enough or may not have counted as effective action. Others offered ideas and appreciated some of what was accomplished already.

Perhaps we need better ways to communicate our progress and work to each other. Change is unsatisfyingly slow, yet it is happening. Kudos to those that shared what they were willing to do individually to further equity, inclusion and belonging at the college or in their units. You are important to getting us where we want to go.

Post-Town Hall
Survey Responses

The entire survey results are presented here. Click on each section to view responses.

Participant identity

Participant Identity – I am a(n):

Answer % Count
Student 6.67% 3
Staff 60% 27
Administrator 6.67% 3
Faculty 24.44% 11
Guest of the college 2.22% 1
Total 100% 45

Town Hall helpfulness...

Q1 – I found the Town Hall helpful in learning more about the work of the OAE and how we are moving forward with the equity, inclusion & belonging work at the college.

Answer % Count
Strongly Disagree 0 0
Disagree 0 0
Neutral 6.67% 3
Agree 60% 27
Strongly Agree 33.33% 15
Total 100% 45

Minimum: 6.00
Maximum: 8.00
Mean: 7.27
Std. Deviation: 0.57
Variance: 0.33
Count: 45

Wanted to hear more about...

Q2 – I would have liked to have heard more about:

  • Helping students succeed through the improvement of day-to-day operations of the College: For example, technology is a big barrier for students that is amplified for those who come from backgrounds where they were not able to become fluent in computer software and other tools. Currently IT at the University and College level does not work well to support students or faculty. In my oppinion, addressing this issue would go further to improving equity and access for current students than more awareness-oriented education programs.
  • I wish breakout group time was longer
  • I would have liked to have more time in the break-out room discussing issues, challenges, and actions toward addressing equity, inclusion, & belonging at the college. Perhaps each break-out room focused on a topic such as recruitment, retention, curriculum, pedagogy, safety, etc. and a reporting back from the groups.
  • I think having more time for the group discussion afterwards would have been nice.
  • Mechanisms being put in place to facilitate greater collaboration and its corollary less siloing across the college.
  • Honestly, it was so wonderful to listen and hear these efforts brought to life in real-time!
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  • I would have liked to hear even more from students, and I would have liked to hear if/how the OAE is addressing the “caste system” that seems to be rampant at Penn State. Many staff feel like second-class citizens and while lip service is paid to the issue, nothing else really happens.
  • Advancements in curriculum and student experience (classroom and living community)
  • The ED&I broke out into committees and would be great to hear more about that and what each committee is working towards this year.
  • I would have liked to know more about the gaps we may have throughout the college and what specific programs and trainings are being planned to fill the gaps. Much of the work we do currently seems very surface but I am having trouble finding deeper and more meaningful and actionable items to participate in, especially as I strive to move to the Activist side of the spectrum.
  • examples of change from within more units in A&A.
  • opportunities for staff
  • I learned a lot in the breakout discussion and wished this “active” part of the meeting had lasted longer. It’s hard to listen attentively to a long webinar.
  • When discussing the Center for Performing Arts, there was a discussion about the limitations that are placed on the scheduling due to where funding comes from (alumni and the community), who are more likely to support things like European orchestra works over more inclusive things. That, plus cost, leads to difficulty with regards to inclusivity. I would like to hear more about other performers and artists in the college that could have fewer issues with those barriers. For instance, the School of Theatre and School of Music has students who perform at high levels whose degrees encourage performances and the college and university have a mission to increase levels of diversity and inclusion. That seems to be a match that would encourage experimentation with works that are outside the “traditional canon” of music and theatre at a lower cost, possibly even reaching out to those beyond the Penn State community, like what was mentioned with NOMAS going to State High.
  • Resources that can be shared with those unable to be present, particularly part-time/wage staff who aren’t always able or encouraged to participate.
  • My colleagues and the work going on — as new faculty.
  • I would have liked to learn more about the initiatives happening in the architecture school more than just the student perspective from the organization I represent NOMAS. It seemed as though the architecture side of the College of Arts and Architecture was disconnected a bit, which I think our organization could help with.
  • Experiences and efforts of more students like Hely, as well as staff who are not in high-up admin positions.
  • The issues? Hely’s experience was very powerful to know, and the less-pleasant things are heavy in this kind of meeting, but I think it’s so important to voice and be transparent about the problem areas rather than the good ways change is happening. Because it is changing, but there’s still a lot to be desired.
  • Others perspectives and the challenges the college has in doing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work.
  • The processes, nuance, and challenges regarding EDI

I benefitted/enjoyed...

Q3 – I particularly benefitted from or enjoyed (check any that apply):

Answer % Count
The Land Acknowledgment 8.33% 11
Opening Exercise 8.33% 11
Courageous Space Agreement 9.85% 13
Poll 8.33% 11
Breakout Groups 15.91% 21
Panel 21.21% 28
After Panel Discussion 11.36% 15
Other 1.52% 2
I did not take away anything meaningful from the event. 0.00% 0
The Presentation 15.15% 15
Total 100% 132

Q3 – Other Comments

  • Units sharing various initiatives; hearing from student leaders
  • I was beyond impressed with three students that spoke in the town hall. We need more students involved in college committee work/insight.

Next steps for the college...

Q4 – A next step the College could take to further equity, inclusion and belonging is:

  • Improve technical support…doesn’t sound like very exciting, but I truly believe it is one of the most meaningful concrete steps we can take
  • meetings like these help, showcasing progress…
  • There are activist strategies the AAUP members at Penn State are learning this semester in two hours of training each week for six weeks that would be relevant. If interested contact AAUP president Michelle Rodino-Colocino, Ph.D. (she/they), Associate Professor, Film Production and Media Studies; Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies; Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State
  • Continuing in its current efforts, adding new opportunities as they arise.
  • Strengthening the relationships and openness between faculty and students.
  • I know this is happening and it’s such good news: inventory all of the incredible stuff happening across the college in this regard such that partnership/collab opportunities might emerge in a way they haven’t due to the aforementioned siloing.
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  • Take action in some fashion, rather than just acknowledging problems exist.
  • Curriculum workshops Getting together students of color from across the college.
  • It would be good to hear about the college committees and how we might be able to contribute in moving forward.
  • Prepare more meaningful connection, deeper more specific training, identify specific areas we are lacking, create more opportunities for getting to know each other
  • involve even more students for the town halls. The student presenters/panelists were amazing! It was so good to hear directly from the students about the work that matters most to them.
  • Create a scholarship to fund a PhD student/faculty to work on issues related to DEI and the fields included in the College of A&A. For instance, the history of architecture designed by black American architects in the US, etc.
  • Create cross-unit cohorts who share similar work, and encourage them to work together to examine all aspects of their work to identify anti-racist practices, and create reports for sustainable practice.
  • Devise a way to enforce behavior standards.
  • I appreciated the next steps discussed at the end of the After Panel Discussion and hope to see those conversations happening officially in the college.
  • In the past when I’ve reported issues of equity and inclusion that negatively impact our students, in the end I was told “there’s nothing we can do”. We need a process to address unacceptable practices and policies so they don’t hit a dead end because one individual won’t evolve.
  • At the same time working to make Penn State a more inclusive place, outreach to people outside of Penn State who haven’t been traditionally served by the Penn State Arts community. We’re the flagship university of the state, and our community is larger than University Park and State College. We should embrace that.
  • Appreciated the actionable DEI steps that Dr. Drane presented. That would be helpful for units to try to do as a way of starting a conversation with faculty, students and staff. What exactly do we want to do? Appreciated all the panelists contributions. So helpful took many notes. Was very much struck with the issue that Tori Monroe raised which is the language of what we want to do. A lot of it is unfamiliar to many people in a precise way that one could use to make actionable changes.
  • I love that Folayemi said in the invitation that coming late was okay, particularly for parents. I’m not a parent but I arrive to work via public transportation, and that was meaningful to me. KEEP GOING in this direction…making space for folks to come as they are…naming that we have different privileges, priorities, and paths.
  • As new faculty and having my first experience on the other end of a search committee, I see the need for this process to be scrutinized. As for as creating change in the A+A search processes to hire diverse faculty, we need a critical analysis of workday in order to focus it on DEI principles. It is not user-friendly and we know already that the pool of candidates are going to be heavily white and/or male. How do we help our search committees in this highly important work? We can encourage diverse applicants but then they get into a funnel of 200 applicants and the situation is the same.
  • Creating spaces for intercultural/college-wide programs to be had and fostering closer connections between students and faculty. I think that closer student to faculty communication should take place instead of everything being behind “closed doors.”
  • Be transparent about enrollment data in terms of student diversity: how many students from diverse groups are part of the college. Find ways to make the student body, faculty, and staff representative of the state’s and country’s demographics.
  • Eliminate unpaid internships/labor College-wide.
  • Foster more accountability or mandate education and participation. I know a lot of people who DIDN’T attend.
  • Continue the conversation and to find tangible ways in how to implement this work across different job responsibilities.
  • Engage with students

Next steps I am willing to take...

Q5 – A next step I am personally willing to take to further equity, inclusion and belonging at the College or in my unit is:

  • Articulate to unit and college leaders why improved technical support for students and faculty should be a priority from a DEI perspective
  • I’m reworking all of my classes and creating one specifically targeted to DEI goals
  • With a team of four graduate students and myself, the Penn State Art Education program have been building and piloting anti-racism modules in our teaching to work toward racial justice. This qualitative multi-case study on the preparation of future art educators seeks to assess anti-racism art curriculum toward values and practices of racial justice. Using Pre-Post reflections and discussions, the team of five researchers will gauge the impact of student learning and their potential application in their future teaching. Following the findings of the study and adjustments as needed to the modules, we will propose that all students seeking to enter the major (ETM) to complete 3 of the modules as part of the ETM requirements.
  • Continuing to take advantage of classes and learning opportunities provided by Penn State and the college.
  • Center and engage artists (local and touring) for whom advancing equity and anti-racist practices are central and vital.
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  • To serve on a committee that is actually going to take action
  • Learning more on the subject. Learn about curricular changes I can make to be more inclusive and aware.
  • I am continuing my training to growing in these areas.
  • Dig deeper in training and awareness activities
  • participate in more trainings
  • Engage in additional DEI trainings outside of Penn State
  • attract more minority students to work with me
  • Incorporate universal design in engagements
  • Talk with colleagues and constituents about their experiences interacting with one another in an effort to identify where we might be missing the mark.
  • Encouraging the groups I work with to consider how we may engage EIB work consistently, incorporating it rather than offering one-off events.
  • Keep speaking up but also reflecting on my own thoughts and biases. I wish I could attend more professional development in this area, but my workload doesn’t allow that.
  • I would be interested as a first step in having a conversation with students to form a group of faculty and students in our unit, probably a course(?)/study group/reading group[?] with other faculty to have a series of discussions about what we want our DEI initiatives to look like and to learn about the different terms that are casually used. Many students want curricular changes but many faculty are not sure what those might be. A conversation with students about this could help to make things more specific. In our unit there is a steep learning curve for most faculty. People are willing. There are other things that we could do after this but perhaps this is a start.
  • I’m the visitor experience manager at the Palmer, and I’ve recently asked our part-time staff to choose a work on display at the museum that connects to a concept from BUILD and share a few sentences with the team. I’d like to continue with work like this and with what I described above – making space for folks to show up differently at work.
  • Accessing resources- making more time- spending more energy on collaborations
  • Creating a podcast with my organization NOMAS to foster connections between underrepresented students and BIPOC designers and partnering with others portions of the college to create programs and events to enhance the community within the college.
  • Continue to be proactive in committees I’m already part of to discuss diversity and equity. Continue to write, make art and publish about the issues discussed in the workshop.
  • Be a dissenting voice when equitable practices are not being followed.
  • Going through the professional development list, trying to attend a conference, pushing superiors to be financially transparent about funds that support DEI
  • See how this work fits into my current role.
  • Redefining the issues we have to equitable and efficiently solve them

Additional comments

Additional participant comments:

  • The work of the OAE is necessary. Please continue the good work with the College in full support.
  • One thing, If we could begin to define audiences BEFORE events a bit more. I think sometimes we do not need reminders of brave space and the relaxation stretches and such as much when it is a focused group ready to work. Maybe we find a scalable approach to reassuring and comforting balanced with just good-old roll up the sleeves work.
  • Please consider scheduling these events at a variety of times, including over the lunch hour and during breaks when classes are not being held. This meeting was very inconveniently timed for me personally and I was only able to participate for about half of it.
  • This was an amazing opportunity and a great start to create a bond between the colleges.
  • The breakout group was way, by a long mile, too short. Barely got introduced when it was over!
  • I enjoyed the sound therapy.
  • I did not like the very small breakout groups with very limited discussion scope. It was not useful/valuable and was just awkward, taking up more time than necessary in the overall program.
  • I enjoyed the panel to hear what is happening across the College.
  • I felt that there were some struggles with the conversation with students. I do not think our faculty were prepared nor was it fair for Stuckeman faculty who were singled out during the call because the director was not present. Additionally, why were some directors not participating on the panel, such as Theatre. Several mentions of Vagner but I did not see him participate. It would have been good to have all directors or more representation of directors on the panel.
  • The OAE director and panel presentation design sent a message of being accountable. But there was no opportunity for diverse voices except at the very end discussion and once a narrative had been created. I appreciated being informed but I did not feel part of the creation of the work.
  • I feel as if we’d benefit from our students and professional colleagues sharing the negative experiences that they’ve had happen or have witnessed happening around the college – realizing that this can be difficult, I feel that it’d be extremely helpful in the changing the cause if we better understand the effect. Many staff members are relegated to our own offices while on campus and with most meetings going virtual, we don’t get our of our ‘bubbles’ during the work day. While we may hear about the negative things that are happening around the college second hand, not all of us necessarily see / hear / feel it for ourselves. I feel as if it’d go a long way for staff to know what’s going on around us so that are better able to be a part of the change.
  • I was very appreciative of how the Directors of college units were given the opportunity to, and fully engaged in sharing the ways in which EIB is part of their work. It felt as though we were invited in to the work, together.
  • I wish I could attend more professional development in this area, but my workload doesn’t allow that. Many staff feel that we are constantly working beyond a reasonable bandwidth.
  • Thanks for doing this.
  • I enjoyed participating in this year’s town hall. I thought the overall content presented today was concise, appropriate and not overwhelming. I enjoyed the smaller group breakout session as well. I learned new things from folks in the meeting today and was blown away with the students that spoke. You hit another home run with this year’s town hall 🙂 Thank you!
  • Thank you for this work. Thank you to the panelists. Thank you to the support team. Thank you to Sita for always centering us physically in these spaces. Thank you, Folayemi, for naming vulnerability as necessary to this work.
  • This was a great town hall- I really appreciated it. As new faculty, I could use more opportunities to come together around equity principles. I look forward to the Workshops you are organizing. Thank you
  • The meet up of 5 minutes was too short. Should have 10 minutes. Providing a set of resources at the end, or concrete next steps for each stage of engagement described would be very helpful.
  • As a College, I don’t really see the financial commitment to change that Sita was talking about. It’s tricky when we want to hire people of color – who may even be interested in jobs – but we don’t have access to the financial resources that would draw them to a particular position.
Rainbow-colored background presentation slide with six 'states' on the continuum on becoming equitably minded: 1. not engaged, 2. aware, 3. educated, 4. analytical, 5. committed, and 6. activist.

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