Demands For Systemic Institutional Change at Art Center College of Design
A declaration from the ArtCenter community to the administration of ArtCenter College of Design:
As students investing in art, activism, and antiracist practices across Southern California, we work and live on the occupied homelands of the Tongva-Gabrieleño, Chumash, Serrano, and Tataviam people.
Students, staff, faculty, and even some administrators have challenged the institution to address its white supremacist foundations publicly for decades now. Still, the school refuses to change its oppressive policies, procedures, and operations. Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people on campus face bigotry every day that impacts their education and careers.
Within the past decade, we have voiced our concerns (as listed below), had discussions about oppression, and created specific events to deconstruct institutional trauma. Yet the school continues to perpetuate systemic injustices while whitewashing our pedagogy, curriculum, and classrooms. You have implemented ZERO changes that students, faculty, staff and alumni have suggested. ArtCenter administration’s inability to provide effective action through sustainable short- or long-term initiatives shows complacency in dismantling white supremacy, racism and anti-Blackness within the institution.
Here is a list of examples from the past 10 years of student organizing. There are many more, too many in fact to be listed here.
- Kristy Lovichs letter, 2013
- Student Takeover of 870 Raymond Gallery, 2017
- Antiracist Classroom's on-going work
- ArtCenter Without
- Caro Gonzales Letter, 2019
- DEI DesignStorm FA19
- Lauren Williams Student Commencement Speech 2019
We have worked on shared governance committees within the school’s framework for ten years waiting for changes; the evidence shows that the school’s structural policies inhibit implementation of basic anti-racist policy. We have chosen to again publicly address where the school is lacking in providing a competent and affordable education to students of color while actively harming the most marginalized people on campus.
We Publicly DEMAND the Following:
- Make a Commitment to Anti-racist Practices:
- Apply pedagogy of the oppressed to the entire curriculum and policies. Art is global, and framing our education from the Bauhaus model has created a hierarchy that prioritizes the Eurocentric cannon.
- Mandate cultural competency and anti-racism training conducted by an outside company for every person on campus and the trustees.
- Make 25% of each class educate students on the histories of oppression that shape the Design studios, and Humanities and Science courses. (i.e. 2.5 class sessions be allocated towards erased histories, infrastructural or institutional problems that occur within the studio topic.
- Institute a mandatory global history class for all students on colonization, imperialism, sexism, transphobia, poverty, and oppression inside and beyond the art world.
2. Title IX Empowerment and Zero Tolerance Policy:
- Empower Title IX to hold everyone accountable. Fire racist, sexist, homophobic faculty, staff, and administrators immediately.
- Implement a zero tolerance policy for racism and sexism from students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
3. Create an Equitable Environment:
- Diversify the student body, faculty, staff, administration and the board. Focus on recruiting students from Los Angeles and particularly from marginalized communities and level the playing field by providing financial support to students from impoverished backgrounds.
- Hire at minimum 40% BIPOC LGBTQ+ Development Officers to work within each department.
- Make all buildings fully A.D.A. code compliant.
- Discourage toxic all-nighters, hustle mentality and workplace burnout by reducing workload and creating more collaborative projects.
- Each studio class must have a 3-part structure of Critique, Demo and Work Time.
- Mandate inclusion of pronouns and pronunciation of names in student rosters.
- Replace Sodexo—a vendor that profits from the prison industrial complex—with a different food distributor.
4. Land Acknowledgment and Reparations:
- ArtCenter is on stolen land and the wealth of Pasadena was built by enslaved people. (Pasadena Before the Roses: Race, Identity, and Land Use in Southern California, 1771–1890, by Yvette J. Saavedra) Not only should this be taught in the mandatory global history class, but ArtCenter should partner with local tribes on campus projects and create classes on the subject of American Indian art taught by local Native artists.
- Deliver reparations to Black and Indigenous Los Angeles students as scholarships.
5. Affordable Tuition:
- Lower tuition by half with a Tuition Reset; do not subject students to tuition hikes annually.
- Cut pay for all administration leadership and put that money into recruitment, scholarships and living working wages for custodial staff.
- Lower scholarship and financial aid participation requirement GPA to 2.5.
6. Cancel the Master Plan and Restructure It:
- Cancel the Master Plan and make it into a transparent progress report on this list of demands.
- Invest in off-campus housing and affordable meal plans for students.
- Dedicate an entire new building to create a Student Community Center where clubs can meet, students can rest, and students can have enough space to do school work.
7. Dismiss President Lorne Buchman: 10 years of failing to fix ongoing institutional problems and not leading the ArtCenter community to a safe, inclusive, and prosperous education demonstrate that President Buchman is unprepared to lead an effort to transform ArtCenter in the ways its students need and demand.
A failure to meet every demand will result in a publicized tuition strike starting Fall 2020 that will last until every demand is fully and transparently in effect.
Every demand on this list has been made before and is easily doable. Every demand on this list is achievable now. We don’t need any more tone deaf committees, design storms, surveys, workshops or town halls. We all want to design for a beautiful future but it cannot be made without addressing our human rights and reforming our education. Hold yourself accountable by creating the change yourself. For many years, ArtCenter has been given the solutions to make the school a safer place to educate—NOW is the time to implement.
This is addressed specifically to the ArtCenter College of Design Board of Trustees:
Clarence Daniels Jr.
Robert Davidson Jr.
Alyce De Roulet-Williamson
Co-Organized By: Antiracist Classroom, ArtCenter Without, OutCenter and BlackatACCD
Become involved: Sign the petition and follow Antiracist Classroom IG and twitter to keep up to date about next steps.