The recently-established College of Fine Arts and Communications Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee has been tasked with helping faculty and students create diverse, inclusive and accessible learning environments within all college departments.
The committee’s statement established three main areas in which it will help and support faculty in every department in achieving this goal.
First, the committee will “(provide) guidance about the recruitment, training, retention, promotion, and support faculty and staff of color, women faculty, and faculty from other underrepresented groups, recognizing that their perspectives and contributions enhance the quality of our college’s research, teaching, performances, and programs.”
Second, “(collaborate) with faculty members, mentors, chairs, deans, and other college partners to create inclusive learning environments where students, faculty, and staff of all backgrounds and experiences can succeed, thrive, and contribute to the aims of Brigham Young University.”
Third, “directly (support) the college in its goal to help students become informed citizens — scholars, artists, and communicators — who help our college and the broader communities in which they live become more diverse and inclusive.”
The statement from the committee also invites students to learn how to be an ally for all minority groups, such as those who have been marginalized for their “gender, age, culture, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, physical and neurological ability, learning style, religion, immigration status, and socioeconomic status.”
As directed by the college, students are instructed to listen and learn from these minority voices, attend to those who are often left unheard, engage in productive conversation prepared to understand and approach all learning opportunities with the humility to learn and gain awareness.
“I hope these changes expose our students to more rich, diverse and unique human experiences. In turn, I hope it inspires them to further create and advocate for art that reflects those diverse experiences” said Kris Peterson, a committee member from the Department of Theatre and Media Arts.
As a committee member representing the Department of Dance, Keely Song said she is delighted for the changes that will be happening throughout the college. She explained that from the Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee of the college, subcommittees will also be created within each department. This will allow each department to implement changes effectively.
“Within each department, there have been strides in making changes for a more inclusive environment. By having a college committee, it brings the collective ideas of many into one arena where it can be shared and incorporated within other departments more quickly,” Song said.
Committee members were gathered from all departments of the college: Collin Bradford, from the Department of Art; Robert Graham, from the Department of Design; Luke Howard and Michelle Kessler from the School of Music; Kris Peterson, from the Department of Theatre and Media Arts; Othello Richards and Jessica Zurcher, from the School of Communications; Keely Song from the Department of Dance; Amy Jensen and Jeremy Grimshaw from the Dean’s office.
The committee has created opportunities for student voices to be heard through Learning and Listening Sessions with CFAC Students. In these sessions, the committee will be working to gain a greater understanding of the needs of the students. Students are encouraged to come before the committee and share their experiences so changes can be made.
CFAC will begin hosting Listen Up Sessions with Guest Artists and Communicators beginning in Winter Semester 2021. Guest speakers from diverse backgrounds will be welcomed to the college for an organized discussion open for students to attend.
Ysabeaux Ng, a senior in the theatre and media arts department, said she is excited to attend the events the committee will be hosting and hear from speakers of her same demographic. She expressed her hope for the greater changes that will happen throughout the college rather than in individual classrooms.
“It is our responsibility to listen to these voices, they have been trying to speak up for so long,” Ng said.