Students at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, want their administration to know the interests of their minority students are not being well represented, and they plan to do something about it. A club known as, the Anti-Racism Classroom, is now circulating a petition, along with other organizations, including ArtCenter Without, Outcenter and Blackat ACCD, calling for the college to be more inclusive.
The “ArtCenter administration’s inability to provide effective action through sustainable short- or long-term initiatives shows complacency in dismantling white supremacy, racism and anti-Blackness within the institution,” the petition states.
More than 1,460 people have signed the petition, according to Anti-Racism Classroom president Melissa Fernandez. About 2,000 students are currently enrolled at ArtCenter College. The junior illustration major said the idea behind the petition, has been a long time coming.
“Throughout the years [the students] haven’t been supported through the pedagogy or the curriculum where it’s really whitewashed,” she said. “It’s a lot of systemic racism in general.”
Fernandez said the students feel like their voices have not been heard in the past, so now they have presented the college’s administration with an ultimatum: meet their demands or there will be a tuition strike this fall. The demands include: “making a commitment to anti-racist practices; a Title IX Empowerment and zero tolerance policy; creating an equitable environment; land acknowledgment and reparations; affordable tuition; canceling their master plan and restructuring it.” The final demand is that the current president, Lorne M. Buchman, be removed from office. They also want there to be a detailed action plan attached to each of their demands, she said.
However, the college’s administration said they plan to address such issues.
“We have heard the students concerns and since my arrival in late 2018, the College has prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), however, we know there is still much work to be done,” Aaron Bruce, chief diversity officer and vice president, ArtCenter College of Design, said in a statement via email. “After an intensive internal review, we now have a DEI Action Plan that ensures accountability and a timeline. The plan will implement policies to ensure a sustainable increase in DEI at all levels. Our goal is to eradicate the problems, educate each and every member of our community and measure progress publicly in order to be responsible for the change.”
Fernandez said the students’ demands are now part of a push at more than a dozen other art schools nationwide. The students plan to soon outline exactly how the tuition strike would be implemented if their demands are not met. Classes are scheduled to begin at ArtCenter College in early September.
Administration officials have created an ArtCenter College of Design Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan which states, in part, that they “collectively recognize that the history of our own campus journey reflects many of the challenges of the turbulent past of our country, and we know that change is imperative.” They go on to say, “We are dedicated to moving forward in a just, inclusive and equitable manner.”
However, Mateo Neri, an ArtCenter College alumnus and a faculty member, said the college’s leadership “is failing” and should listen to the students’ demands and take action.
“This group of students seems to be relentless and persistent to make change,” he said. “I’ve heard many stories that I can’t believe have happened and still happening at the school on racism and sexual abuse, and this has to stop and people need to be held accountable.”
By Karen Jordan. Afro World News Writer
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