The Executives of the Graduate Union of the Students of Art would like to respond to the recent wave of the murders by police of Black and Indigenous people by expressing our solidarity with the uprisings against the systemic racism around the world.
We at GUStA stand against the ongoing display of police brutality, systemic oppression, and institutional racism. We support the BIPoCQT (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, Queer, and Trans) voices who have been at the frontlines in the recent fight for justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, D’Andre Campbell, Jason Collins, Stewart Andrews, Eishia Hudson, Chantel Moore, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, among countless others.
We stand with protestors worldwide who demand justice for victims of government-sanctioned brutality against BIPoCQT people. We further wish to recognize the role of universities as knowledge-making institutions that contribute to condoning the continued oppression of BIPoCQT people. We recognize the role and history of the discipline of art history in reinforcing white supremicist ideologies; at the same time, we honour the work of generations of art historians who have challenged the legacies of racial violence, and colonialism.
At this time, we would like to renew our commitment to promoting an understanding of the historical experience that enables students to be part of the solution to the crisis of racist violence. We commit to addressing not only anti-Black racism, but also of all types of discrimination that result from hegemonic systems, and to taking the time to review and reflect on our work as a student union. We commit to holding our union and department accountable for better representation and support of BIPoCQT scholars. We commit to putting resources towards creating policies that target unconscious bias, providing training for graduate students, and identifying and petitioning for the removal of barriers for all students. Our non-exhaustive list of actionable items include:
- Producing a framework that will help us better understand the structure of our student group and identify any unconscious bias or barriers in the selection of the Executive Committee or the planning and running of events; amending our Constitution to better address issues of equity and inclusion and to include an explicit mention of our commitment to this cause.
- Ensuring that this union’s policies for management and planning target unconscious bias and encourage behavior conducive to equity, anti-racist work, and inclusion.
- Providing training opportunities for graduate students on teaching pedagogies and curriculum resources that will enable them to target unconscious bias.
- Allocating funding where necessary to provide training opportunities for graduate students in equity and inclusion.
- Identifying and addressing barriers that hinder students from seeking departmental and institutional support.
- Producing and promoting a list of resources related to education against anti-Black violence, racism, and colonialism, as well as resources that examine the manifestation of racism and various forms of systemic oppression in the discipline of art history.
- Identifying and petitioning for the removal of any barriers in attracting scholars from diverse groups, both as students or professors within the department and as invited speakers; increasing accountability across the department for improving representation and support of BIPoCQT scholarship in our curriculum and events.
- Continually reviewing, examining, and updating our position and stance on issues of inclusion and diversity, and implementing a periodic review of the anti-racist work carried out within GUStA.
These actions aim to ensure that the department’s environment for students is equitable, welcoming, and one in which they flourish. We hope to begin to implement some of these measures in the coming weeks. By publicly committing to this work, we are committing to learn publicly; by this we mean that we will hold ourselves accountable, be prepared to reflect on, apologize for, and re-examine our persistent implicit biases as we continue in our work, and be open to learning about the nuances of those who are impacted by systemic oppression of any kind.
Lastly, to all members of GUStA who have been taking part in the protests, be it through organizing, donating, calling your representatives, having difficult conversations: thank you.
GUStA Executives & Members (2019-2020, 2020-2021)
Dongwon Esther Kim