Background and University Context
The Eskenazi School acknowledges the various contexts in which we exist and function – internally at Indiana University and within the larger context of higher education and society. Firstly, we acknowledge and recognize the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee peoples on whose ancestral home and lands Indiana University has been built.
While we are one of Indiana University’s newest schools, we trace our history back over 125 years, to 1895, when the Department of Freehand and Technical Drawing was created on the Indiana University Bloomington campus – making us one of the oldest art departments in the nation. A few years later, in 1913, the Department of Home Economics was established. Over the decades, these units and degree programs coalesced. Following the merger of the Department of Studio Art and the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design into the School of Art + Design in 2016, and with the addition of architecture in 2017, and a major gift from Sidney and Lois Eskenazi in 2019, we became the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design.
The Eskenazi School acknowledges that academia in the US exists within a space of white privilege and we are not an exception. The predominately white nature of our School, the creative fields, and academia is detrimental to our community as a whole. The lack of diversity not only affects those that have been continually marginalized by way of exclusion and abuse, but it also compromises the humanity, research, and teaching of all our faculty, staff, and students. Due to the undying efforts of people who continue to fight for a better America, many are waking up to the difference between how we see ourselves and how others experience us. The unbridgeable inequities fostered by systemic racism, bias, harassment, and discrimination as either witness or victim persist in many forms in our educational system. Our privileged idea of higher education will only change if the culture and thought of black, indigenous, and people of color, and all people, are able to thrive freely. This is the context in which this plan is drafted.
It is critical to look more clearly at our nation’s history. While we cannot change this history, we can commit to seeing it through new perspectives, work to repair centuries of damage, and stand for a different future. The first step in our plan is to affirm that we are responsible and accountable for our actions. This is the departure point towards a more inclusive and dynamic future for our School. We also unflinchingly commit to creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive curricula, spaces, and policies that can reframe the context of education and community for our students, staff and faculty. We plan to get comfortable with the uncomfortable topics of racism and discrimination of all kinds. Members of our community need to feel that it is normal and expected to address misconduct of any sort as it pertains to racism, bias, harassment, and discrimination.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Arts & Sciences
The Eskenazi School is one of the three “internal schools” within the College of Arts and Sciences. Along with The Media School and the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, we share a unique structure that offers opportunities for cost effective shared services, as well as easier collaboration across disciplines. Additionally, the Eskenazi School partners heavily with units across campus, such as the Eskenazi Museum of Art, the IU Cinema, the IU Libraries (we have a dedicated visual arts librarian), Arts & Humanities Council, and other schools such as the Kelley School of Business and the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.
The College values diversity, equity, and inclusion as core strengths and essential elements in the success of its educational mission. On their website the College states that:
We are committed to:
- Ensuring equity and access across the broad range of our research, teaching, and co-curricular activities;
- Maintaining a culture in which all students, faculty, and staff feel welcome, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability status, socioeconomic status, immigration status, and other forms of difference, and;
- Valuing myriad and differing intellectual contributions, political and ideological views, and lived experiences for their capacity to enrich the learning process and contribute to the College’s and the university’s success.
We believe that tangible educational, organizational, and personal benefits result from applying a critical lens to ourselves and our environment, individually and collectively examining our biases, assumptions, and worldviews, and challenging and mitigating structural inequities. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is grounded in our aspiration to cultivate intellectual rigor and curiosity among our students and to prepare them to thrive in and contribute to a globally diverse, complex, and interconnected world.
Please see Appendix 1 for the Bloomington Faculty Council’s shared definition of diversity. In addition, we put forward these shared definitions from the National Equity Project:
Diversity: The wide range of national, ethnic, racial and other backgrounds….as social groupings, co-existing. The term is often used to include aspects of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class and much more. The term simply describes the presence of individuals from various backgrounds and/or with various identities.
Equity: The proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, and impacts…for all. Equity means every individual receives what they need to develop to their full potential.
Inclusion: Authentically brings the perspectives and contributions of all people to the table, equitably distributes power, and incorporates their needs, assets, and perspectives into the design and implementation of processes, policies, activities, and decision-making.
Racial justice: Racial justice is acknowledging the historical and current socio-political conditions that have situated populations of color in a marginal status and attending to them through targeted strategies.
In addition, from the work of Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, is the important concept of Intersectionality. She defines this as “basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.”