Black lives matter.
We, faculty members of the Digital Arts and New Media MFA program at UCSC, state unequivocally that we stand against the continued acts of police brutality in Santa Cruz, California, and across the nation. We grieve with you for the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people who have been murdered by police, as well as Black trans women such as Nina Pop whose murderers are still unknown. We are sickened by the ongoing injustice against Black people, and acknowledge our own complicity in systemic racism. We have quietly ignored it for too long.
We have a long way to go toward making this a supportive learning environment for Black, Indigenous, POC, queer, trans, sick/disabled, and low-income students. We commit to do this work.
We support the demands of the UCSC Black Student’s Union including:
- We demand the eradication and divestment of the UCSC police department, military spending, development of war mechanizations and imperialist practices. Accordingly, we demand that ICE agents remain prohibited from entering and detaining students on campus.
- We demand the designation of ABC-themed housing (African Black and Caribbean) for ABC students without guaranteed housing (i.e. re-entry students, transfer students). The goal of this action item is to serve as an extension of RPAATH for low-income and historically disadvantaged ABC students that face housing injustice due to economic and racial barriers in Santa Cruz’s already competitive and limited housing market.
- We demand to have a designated building for the African American Resource Center.
- We demand a Zero-Tolerance policy for hate, discrimination, prejudice and bias with tangible consequences for students, faculty and staff. This shall include: suspension and/or expulsion for students and unpaid leave and/or termination for faculty and staff.
- We demand the hiring of at least three full-time Queer & Trans-friendly ABC identified psychologists in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), along with the hiring of at least two full-time Muslim counselors with Black, Queer, and Trans-identity experience and knowledge. These psychologists must be socially and culturally competent in handling matters regarding intersectional issues the community faces, including but not limited to: racism, queerness, transexuality, Islamophobia, imposter syndrome, and discrimination.
- We demand at least one professional staff from the African American Resource and Cultural Center (AARC) be included in the existing Hate-Response Team. Our investigation holds that the existing Hate-Response Team is not representative of the study body population that is currently attending UCSC. We demand at least one professional staff from AARC with the hopes of inspiring the recruitment of a truly diverse and representative composition of Response Team members.
- We demand the continued development and establishment of Black Studies at UCSC as a minor, major, and area of graduate research with a surplus of ABC identifying faculty and staff that is itself experienced in being intersectional when it comes to a discipline that focuses on Blackness, Black Lives, and Black Lifeworlds.
We add our voices to the concerns raised and demand:
- UCSC leadership provides a detailed public statement clearly stating how they are addressing the specific demands of the BSU.
- UCSC immediately establishes an oversight committee for the deployment of resources on campus as they relate to policing until such time as the police can be replaced entirely by other staff more suited to a learning environment.
- UCSC follows the lead of other public universities such as the University of Minnesota and ends its relationship with the SCPD and other county, state, and federal police departments.
- That the transfer of funds formerly allocated to UCSC PD be reinvested in underserved campus communities.
- A pledge that all faculty will take a mandatory workshop on undoing racism.
Going forward, we commit to the anti-racist work needed to dismantle these systems, and commit to the ongoing learning and practice this work requires. The work begins with us, the DANM Faculty, and the steps outlined below for this Fall are the first on a much longer path toward building a more inclusive, safe, and equitable space together.
- We the Principal Faculty pledge to participate in unlearning racism training.
- We pledge to renew efforts for outreach and recruiting to attract underrepresented minorities including by establishing connections with Historic Black Universities.
- We will search for ways to reduce fees and create more scholarships for students from underrepresented and marginalized groups.
- We will develop mentorship and support systems for students while enrolled and to help students find jobs and other opportunities after graduation.
- We commit to a critical evaluation of our curriculum in order to decenter whiteness and eurocentric art histories and to reevaluate our efforts on a quarterly basis.
In closing, we stand together in resistance to racism, the systemic oppression of Black people by our educational, economic, governance and justice systems. Our demands and commitments mark our solidarity with Black lives and with the movements against racist police violence.
Laurie Palmer (Interim Director)
Note: This statement is modeled after the statement made by the Design Media Arts Program at UCLA: http://dma.ucla.edu/information/commitments/