Working Toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Racism has no place at SVA. We are actively working toward a better future—one in which our Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students, alumni, faculty and staff feel supported on our campus and in our community. SVA accepts that we have work to do when engaging the BIPOC community and creating an environment of inclusiveness, and it is our duty to ensure that we are doing the critical antiracism work to make that happen. This includes initiatives both large and small, and will effectively change the ways we hire and train faculty and staff, recruit prospective students and build a culture free of hatred, ignorance and intolerance.
In the fall of 2018, following approval of the College’s Strategic Plan by the SVA Board of Directors, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force comprising members of SVA’s academic and administrative leadership and staff was formed to effectuate the plan’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals:
- expanding representation in the College’s faculty;
- initiatives to ensure that the curriculum includes historically underrepresented communities and global perspectives;
- initiatives to encourage a range of pedagogical approaches that accommodate diverse learning abilities;
- initiatives to create access and reduce the economic impact of attendance for more low-income students;
- faculty diversity and inclusion training, as well as regular social engagement workshops and events open to the full SVA community;
- a disability accessibility audit of the SVA campus;
- reviewing and augmenting graduate-level English Language Learners (ELL) and cultural literacy offerings, including a summer pre-program similar to the undergraduate English and the Visual Arts (EVA) program;
- developing online resources for international students for language support, cultural literacy and adjusting to a new learning environment;
- expanding training opportunities for faculty teaching international students;
- the appointment of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director to oversee the above and liaise with SVA Student Affairs to develop additional support services.
The Task Force was further empowered to keep the College on track in refining and achieving these goals, assessing our progress and amending the plan accordingly as the needs of our community evolve.
The summer of 2020 proved to be a watershed period—one in which our understanding of the specific contours of those needs once again shifted. So, while the extent of our mandate continues to include the full scope of diverse identities, experiences and needs, the Task Force’s priority in this moment must be to address long-standing inequities in the experiences of our BIPOC community members, acknowledge our own complicity and foster antiracist progress on our campus.
Members of the Task Force have engaged SVA’s Multicultural Student Union (MSU)—the intersectional antiracism coalition formed by several of SVA’s cultural clubs—in a series of meetings to listen to their SVA experiences as the first step toward creating an open, ongoing dialogue. Representation from MSU has been invited to have a seat on the Task Force, and their input has been incorporated into our list of goals for the immediate future.
To that end, we commit to these near-term initiatives, in furtherance of the goals of the Strategic Plan and working towards an SVA free of all forms of bias and discrimination:
- the appointment of a director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion;
- a survey of students, faculty, administration and alumni, to collect a broader understanding of their experiences relating to race and inclusion at SVA;
- a shared database of potential BIPOC faculty and guest lecturers, for department chairs to use as a resource to expand their hiring pool;
- modifying the current process for faculty recruitment and actively recruiting prospective BIPOC faculty and faculty from other historically underrepresented groups;
- ongoing antiracism training for all members of the SVA community;
- expanded mental health resources for BIPOC students;
- a $50,000 SVA community matching donation campaign to Black Lives Matter and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund;
- a firm and unambiguous policy against any acts of bias, discrimination and harassment within the College community, to include third parties with whom SVA has an affiliation;
- the establishment of scholarships specifically in support of BIPOC students;
- an investment of resources necessary to support BIPOC students’ academic and social needs;
- a dedicated section of sva.edu for highlighting student groups and DEI resources, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable for achieving the goals we have set;
- continue to foster awareness of the full scope of identities, experiences and needs of our community, addressing them as they arise.
Additionally, the SVA Library has created an Antiracist Resource Guide to support information-seeking within the College community, and we have established a faculty-only book and film group to regularly meet and engage in an energetic dialogue on critical teaching issues relating to race and culture.
The members of the DEI Task Force, and the SVA faculty and administration on whose behalf we speak, are firmly committed to change, and to maintaining transparency with respect to the objectives outlined above. We encourage all students, alumni, faculty, staff and administration to join the conversation, and to be a part of our effort to create and sustain an equitable, just and welcoming College community. To contact the DEI Task Force, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SVA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force
Dr. Jarvis Watson
Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion*
Gail Anderson (BFA 1984 Media Arts)
Chair, BFA Design and BFA Advertising; Creative Director, Visual Arts Press*
Title IX Coordinator (she/her)*
Christopher J. Cyphers, Ph.D.
Director of Operations, BFA Design, BFA Advertising, BFA Cartooning and BFA Illustration
Director, Human Resources/Assistant Title IX Coordinator*
Assistant Director, Residence Life/Assistant Title IX Coordinator (he/him)
Associate Director, Disability Resources (she/her)
Academic Advisor, BFA Illustration
Nada Mohammed (MFA 2020 Visual Narrative; BFA 2014 Animation)
Academic Advisor, BFA Cartooning (she/her)
Catherine Rosamond, Ed.D.
Chair, Art Education (she/her)*
Associate Provost (she/her)*
Director, International Student Office
Technical Support and Project Administrator, Administrative and Network Services
*Members of the DEI Task Force Executive Committee.