Upholding racial justice and equity

Explore some of CCA's diversity, equity, and inclusion resources below, and read messages to our community outlining steps the college is taking to advance anti-racism and address structural inequities.


August 26, 2020

Dear CCA Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As our community comes together (albeit virtually) to begin this unusual new semester, we would like to share an update on CCA’s progress toward several commitments we announced earlier this summer to advance anti-racism and address structural inequities within our college. This week, we launched a new webpage: Action + Accountability: CCA’s commitment to anti-racism, equity, and social justice. On this page, we will provide ongoing, public updates on CCA’s commitments, actions, and progress toward making our college a place that is welcoming, equitable, inclusive, and safe for everyone.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder on May 25, our community, our nation, and the world demanded a reckoning with the systemic racism that devalues and disempowers so many members of our society. We made a commitment to you—our CCA community—to act decisively and with urgency to identify and implement steps that are definitive, measurable, and transparent to confront and change the systems that perpetuate racial injustice and inequity within our institution.  

Members of the CCA community submitted more than 125 recommendations, which the President’s Diversity Steering Committee (PDSG) compiled, categorized, and presented to us for review (you can see a compilation of those suggestions here, and can continue to submit recommendations). On June 30, we announced an initial list of commitments and immediate actions CCA was taking to address some of those recommendations. The new web page currently provides updates on those initial commitments, and will continue to evolve and grow as we announce and track additional initiatives and updates. 

We recognize this is a small step, and acknowledge that these actions must be the first of many. As our nation is this week confronted with yet another police shooting of a Black American, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, our resolve and commitment to uphold racial justice and equity at CCA, and in our larger society, are unwavering. We thank you for holding us accountable, and for working together to build a safe, inclusive, and actively anti-racist CCA.

Sincerely,

Stephen Beal, President

Tammy Rae Carland, Provost


June 30, 2020

Dear CCA Community,

We have listened to your experiences, criticism, frustrations, and pain. CCA is not immune to the structural racism upon which our society is built, and we are accountable to our community—especially our Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. 

We have reviewed the recommendations gathered and presented to us by the President’s Diversity Steering Group (PDSG). You may see a compilation of those suggestions here.

With these recommendations as a foundation, we are committed to working toward restorative justice and racial equity. The level of institutional change we must make will take time and participation from our entire community. We know we must act with urgency, to ensure our campus is a brave, safe, welcoming, and actively anti-racist place for everyone. Here are some of the actions we are taking now:

  1. Prioritize funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. A discrete budget for these efforts will be created through existing operational funds and fundraising. 
  2. Designate space on our campus for an academic and social gathering place for BIPOC students. This space will be completed and open by the time students return to campus this fall.
  3. Expand anti-racism and anti-bias training and education for all faculty, staff, and students. This training will be universal and mandatory. 
  4. Continue funding and support for the Decolonial School and develop support specific to BIPOC faculty.
  5. Launch the CCA land acknowledgement, which was developed in partnership with the Decolonial School and local Indigenous leaders and representatives.
  6. Establish forums for regular communication between BIPOC students and academic and college leadership. 
  7. Expand CANVAS (CCA Artist’s Network Valuing Aspiring Students) to include a for-credit experience encompassing mentorship, networking, and leadership preparation.
  8. Work with local high schools to expand opportunities for BIPOC students and create additional pathways for enrollment.  
  9. Refocus the Student Retention and Success Committee to prioritize support for BIPOC students. 
  10. Improve the process for reporting, acknowledging, and responding to student concerns and complaints.

This is not a comprehensive list, and we’re still just at the beginning of the process, which will include the creation of a comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan for the college.

Thank you for holding us accountable, and for being part of this process.

Stephen Beal
President

Tammy Rae Carland
Provost


June 9, 2020

Dear CCA Community,

What took place on May 25 in Minneapolis exposed, again, the terrible systems that support violence against Black lives. The murder of George Floyd sparked a movement that is reframing the meaning of responsible citizenship, even amid the continuing crisis of COVID–19. Like so many in our country, the CCA community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees—is responding and demanding change. And you are asking what meaningful steps the college can take to stand against racial injustice and to advance social equity.

I value the transformative power of education and take pride in the generations of CCA alumni who are making our country a more just, sustainable, and equitable society. Yet this is not enough. We have a long way to go, and leaders have a special responsibility to reflect upon and critique the structure of their institutions. We must continuously and consistently confront power relations within our own walls that devalue, disempower, or disrespect members of our community. Institutions are part of a larger American society plagued since its inception by structural inequities—especially for African Americans. Pledging energy, commitment, and resources, CCA will take on the task of defining and implementing reparative steps that are definitive, measurable, and transparent.

Following are some of the steps we are initiating now and others we are building upon. I ask that you recognize them for what they are—small steps in an ongoing journey that we are committed to continuing for as long as CCA stands as an institution.

Juneteenth day of service

Beginning this year, CCA will institute an annual day of service on Juneteenth (June 19, 2020), a day that celebrates African American freedom and achievement while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. We will plan an additional service day in the fall that will focus on decolonial initiatives.

Diversity and inclusion performance goals

All departments will be required to include a diversity and inclusion goal as part of this year’s annual staff performance review process, with the purpose of promoting accountability in our efforts to foster cultural competence, diversity, and inclusivity within our community of students, staff, and faculty.

Diversifying the CCA Board of Trustees

The CCA Board of Trustees has begun a renewed effort to improve diversity and inclusion within its governing body. Recognizing the need for deep expertise to help develop and take action on an effective diversity and inclusion plan, the board researched and selected an outside expert to support this work, which will be comprehensive and ongoing.

Racial justice and equity resource list

Last week, I invited members of our community to share anti-racism resources you have found helpful and would like to offer to others. Your suggestions are being gathered on a Community-Sourced Racial Justice + Equity Resources page on Portal, a collection of peer-to-peer recommendations that will grow over time. If you’d like to offer an additional resource, please do so here.

Emotional support group meetings

HR is in the process of scheduling emotional support groups for BIPOC colleagues, as well as non-targeted groups. These sessions for faculty and staff will be guided by a licensed counselor to help participants address the trauma of racial tension and violence.

Voter friendly campus

Since fall 2019, various departments and programs have been crafting an action plan to become a Voter Friendly Campus. The multi-pronged approach will focus community efforts related to voter registration, education, and turnout. In November 2020, CCA will once again serve as a polling location.

Coordinated institutional reflection, action, and assessment

Advancing a racially just and equitable culture at CCA will require continuous, comprehensive work. Several groups and many individuals on our campus have long been committed to this work, including the President’s Diversity Steering Group, the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and the Decolonial School, and we are all beneficiaries of their energy and expertise. The work ahead, though, involves all of us—not just our diversity-focused groups and task forces.

As I said in my message last week, we as an institution have the power and the privilege that positions us to act in meaningful ways to promote social justice and community engagement. In the days since, I’ve returned repeatedly to considering the power we have individually as well—as artists, designers, writers, architects, scholars, teachers, activists, and others who support this creative work—to shape the future of our society and our world.

I will close this message with a personal commitment to redouble my own efforts to further educate myself about BIPOC racism and anti-blackness; to facilitate systemic institutional change by creating space and prioritizing time and resources for this work; and to participate actively in these efforts. I am grateful for the thoughtful feedback and critique I have received from this community, and I look forward to working with each of you to address the structural inequities that exist on our campus and in our community.

Sincerely,
Steve


June 1, 2020

Dear CCA Community,

The images of recent days have left an imprint that will never leave my mind. Through the gut-wrenching video of George Floyd’s unconscionable murder to the scenes of anguish, anger, and heartbreaking sadness documented by journalists and citizens alike, we’re called to bear witness to the grim reality of this country’s failure, yet again, to protect and respect Black lives.

The pandemic had already laid bare the inequities—social, racial, economic, political—of a societal structure that is, at its core, terribly unjust, built on centuries of systemic oppression. The pandemic that has already killed more than 100,000 people in this country has been especially deadly for Black Americans, who are disproportionately affected by job losses and lack of access to health care, and who are often inordinately at risk in front-line jobs.

The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and, tragically, many others are yet more examples of the deep structural racism that endures. The images that enable each of us to bear witness, that provide a level of proximity to such acts of brutality and violence, also carry a demand of accountability. As an institution of higher education, CCA has a particular ability—and responsibility—to be a component of change. And we must do better.

So many of you have been doing this important work for a long time, through your art, your teaching, your activism. Many members of our community live with the impact of racism daily. Others serve as allies in this work. As we mourn George Floyd and countless other Black lives lost, my hope is that we can draw upon our community’s shared expertise, creativity, and energy to support one another in the continuation of this work—not just this week or this year, but every day going forward.

As an institution with the power and privilege to do so, CCA must now double down on our commitment to improving access and opportunities for underrepresented groups, and to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into our role as a proponent of social justice and community engagement. These are among CCA’s stated values, and we stand in action and solidarity with those who are putting themselves on the line to uphold these values and demand equity, inclusion, justice, and agency.

Today, as one step, I have invited members of our community to share resources they have found helpful with other members of the CCA community. These will be compiled on a new CCA Portal page, Racial Justice and Equity Resources, which will launch this week as a place to gather resources shared by and for our community—things to read, groups to join, legal resources to share, creative actions to take, and more. This is one small step. There must be, and will be, many more.

Please be well and safe,
Steve