CCAD will take action

Dear students,

As I’ve communicated before, and most recently in the past week, racism, violence, and intolerance contradict our core values and have no place in our society or on our campus. However, fighting racism calls for more than just words. It requires action. 

As an institution of learning, CCAD must do better in promoting its Core Values and breaking down the systemic racism that exists within the college. Last week, I invited you to participate in a listening session, so I and other administrators could hear firsthand how CCAD can do better for our Black students and for our other students of color. 

This is some of what we heard:

  • Some of you were frustrated that CCAD was silent on the police killings of Tyre King, Henry Green, and Julius Tate.
  • Some of you lamented the lack of Black faculty and staff to whom you can turn for support and professional mentorship. 
  • You shared that more diversity in faculty and staff is needed overall. CCAD needs to diversify its faculty in order to enrich the learning experience for all students. 
  • CCAD’s marketing would benefit from greater input from staff, students, and alumni of color. 
  • Some of you have experienced a lack of empathy and sensitivity from faculty, staff and other students.
  • CCAD needs to invest in further faculty and staff training to ensure that our campus environment is inclusive and respectful of all voices. 
  • The critique process can leave Black students particularly vulnerable.
  • The curriculum could better emphasize the role of Black artists in all fields and needs to actively teach students about the role of systems of power and oppression.
  • Having the time to engage in CCAD’s activities and cultivate community is a privilege that many students do not have, especially those who have to work and pay for school.
  • On the other hand, some of you wanted more support for events and student groups focused on issues of race and identity.
  • CCAD should bolster opportunities to support social justice groups and other resources.

Let me assure you we can do better and we know we must do better. We will take action that will be meaningful and measurable, so we can be held accountable. We will communicate our progress publicly and more frequently. We’ve learned that while we’ve been doing some work to make change, we have not been sharing that work with you in an effective way.

Here is a summary of new commitments and actions that we will be taking in four areas, based in part on what we heard from students, alumni, faculty, and staff over the last week. Change is a process, and we will continually re-evaluate what’s working and what’s not.

Using Our Voice as a Community Leader

  • CCAD stands by our Core Values and our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and condemns all forms of individual discrimination and systemic oppression.
  • CCAD joined hundreds of corporate and community leaders to urge Columbus City Council to sign a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The city and Franklin County have since made such declarations, and CCAD has urged the state of Ohio to follow suit.
  • CCAD apologizes to our community for not speaking out in regards to racially motivated killings by the Columbus Division of Police —especially four years ago when Tyre King was shot by Columbus officers. This heinous act was in our own backyard, and we did not use our voice to denounce this action nor adequately care for our students who were suffering as a result of this event and the following institutional silence. For this, I am deeply sorry. 
  • CCAD will send an open letter to Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and the Columbus Division of Police to express our deep concerns regarding the injustices committed by the police during the protests near CCAD campus on the night of Saturday, May 30.
  • CCAD acknowledges and condemns anti-Black violence committed by the Columbus Division of Police. We recognize this as a symptom of the larger forces of institutionalized racism and oppression inherent in our nation’s systems of law enforcement and will urge the CDP to adopt policies and increase training that will reduce police violence. (See 8cantwait.org for a list of reforms.) 
  • CCAD upholds the rights of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff to engage in peaceful protest. We will take every opportunity to work with student organizers to understand how CCAD can best support them depending on the situation, and we stand alongside our community in support of their First Amendment rights.
  • We will use our institutional channels to advance opportunities to support and donate to social justice organizations seeking to effect change in Columbus and beyond. As a start, here are links to support two organizations: BQIC emergency fund and the Columbus Freedom Fund.

Institutional Commitments

  • CCAD will immediately form a Presidential Commission on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. This group will oversee the progress on our collective work and ensure that the college remains committed to making substantive changes.  
  • We will launch diversity scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate levels with the aim of bolstering support for historically underrepresented students.
  • CCAD will strengthen our connections with Columbus City Schools and other central Ohio districts with large populations of students of color to enhance our enrollment pipeline.
  • We know that the ability to thrive and graduate is paramount for our students, and unfortunately some of our students of color—specifically our Black male students—do not graduate at the same rate as other CCAD students. Therefore, we will develop targeted strategies and resources to help Black male students overcome common barriers and succeed at CCAD.   
  • We will conduct Diversity, Equity & Inclusion campus climate surveys on a routine basis so that we are continually checking our work against the experience of our students, faculty, and staff.
  • CCAD will enhance our “Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” webpage to continually update our community on progress towards the goals listed here as well as related work already underway and offer further information and resources about our campus community for prospective students and employees.   
  • We will continue to diversify CCAD's Board of Trustees in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation and commit to conducting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training with our trustees.

The Academic & Studio Experience

  • CCAD will work with faculty leaders to adopt the “Guidance from CCAD Faculty on an Anti-Racism and Racial Literacy Action Plan” provided last week. 
  • CCAD will implement targeted recruitment plans with the clearly articulated goal of hiring more faculty and staff of color and hold hiring managers accountable for meeting goals.
  • CCAD will engage in regular anti-oppression pedagogy training for all faculty as well as general cultural competency training for all staff.
  • CCAD will develop new curricular offerings focused on racial literacy and cultural studies as well as issues of justice and equity. We will ensure that all students graduate with meaningful exposure to these issues.
  • Given the centrality of the critique process at CCAD, we will make certain that our work to develop our faculty and curriculum pays special attention to changing critique culture to one that supports all voices, experiences, and artistic practices, especially those of historically marginalized groups.

Campus Life

  • CCAD will immediately implement a Bias Incident Response Team to provide a centralized way for students to report concerns about bias incidents on campus and to ensure that appropriate campus leaders are aware and can take action. 
  • We will work with student government and student organization leaders to identify recurring opportunities for student voices to be heard and formalize additional occasions for student participation on various college committees.
  • CCAD will work with our identity-based student organizations to increase support for their activities including meetings, events, and exhibitions.
  • CCAD will conduct a representation analysis of our guest speakers and public events to ensure that our educational experiences with outside artists and designers are reflective of our entire CCAD student body.

We understand this is just the start to making much-needed change. We will incorporate more feedback from alumni and will continue the conversations with faculty, staff, and students. The Presidential Commission on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion will immediately publish our plan publicly and develop specific metrics to keep our entire community accountable. 

Thank you to all who participated in Friday’s listening session. I invite all students who want to provide their insights to attend our next listening session on this matter on Thursday, July 9, at 4 p.m. (details will be forthcoming). It is only by working together to make CCAD a more inclusive, more equitable, and more diverse institution that we make progress.

We hear you, and we will do better.

-Melanie​​​​​​​