The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish People of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip, and Muckleshoot nations.
The following is a description of the state of affairs concerning Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEI+A) within the School of Art + Art History + Design as of the early 2020s.
The School of Art + Art History + Design serves a diverse constituency of students and is connected to Seattle’s diverse art communities through alumni and professional networks. It has contributed to the education and growth of many generations of students who impact a wide range of professional fields and communities through their creativity, leadership, and intellect. The School offers an expansive variety of ways to understand the relationship between visual creation and human diversity through courses on global art histories and diverse modalities of making, through an extensive offering of visiting lectures, and through the exhibitions and programming of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery.
We see it as a crucial responsibility to continually ask ourselves how the School can best work to create a just, equitable, inclusive and accessible community. The School has been shaped over the course of its history by the work of faculty and students of color. In the School’s ranks of tenured and tenure-track faculty, Asian and Black faculty have historically made especially important contributions in this respect, with some serving at times as the only tenure-stream person of color in majority white units. Queer and nonbinary people remain drastically underrepresented in the tenure-line faculty. As we reflect on our commitments to diversity within the context of over a century of visual arts pedagogy at UW, it is essential to acknowledge that DEI+A work is everyone’s responsibility, while also understanding that the contributions that individual people make to it are unique and depend on factors including their perspectives and lived experiences, their skills and interests, and their degree of institutional power and privilege.
Historical problems with the School that persist into the present include major accessibility problems in its buildings, efforts to diversity faculty and staff hiring that have lagged greatly behind the diversity of the student body, and an institutional culture that has not always successfully prioritized student, staff, and faculty well-being. We understand that many faculty, staff, and students of color have had a range of complex experiences within the School. It is one of our most important tasks today to support and create space for those who have felt marginalized, minimized or tokenized within the fields of art, art history, and design. These challenges pose questions about how we should act in the present to foster positive culture within the School. How do our policies, pedagogies, and collegial cultures enable or foreclose the thriving, creative expression, and intellectual growth of members of this community?
In this context, the role of the School’s committee for DEI+A is to develop tools and policies that help the School better serve its diverse constituencies; to provide information to people connected with the School about how to access campus supports and resources; and to support the School’s Divisions, especially in the area of hiring. The committee comprises a faculty representative from each of the three divisions, members of the School’s staff, and at least one undergraduate and graduate representative each. The process for selecting student representatives varies per year; students interested in serving on the committee should contact the committee chair.
Recent activities of the DEI+A committee include:
- Developing a Voicing a Concern process that guides faculty, students, and staff on how to voice concerns regarding diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility or any other issues. As of Spring 2023, we ask that all instructors include a link to this resource on their syllabi and start the quarter with a scripted announcement about avenues for voicing concerns.
- Supporting the hiring of a diverse cadre of faculty through candidate interviews and working with search committees and divisions that is tailored to the individual search.
- Developing briefings and trainings for use within the School on topics including pronoun usage, supporting students with disability accommodations, and handling student concerns.
- Helping direct people with concerns to other resources in the University where necessary. See guidelines for this process here.
- Working with the School’s divisions and administrative staff to strengthen onboarding for new faculty.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the 2023-24 co-chairs of the DEI+A committee: