Friday, March 13, 2009

Town Hall Meeting

Today was the Town Hall Meeting.

In attendance:

The Town Hall was announced to the dance major list serve as being mandatory. No attendance of dance students was taken, and not all dance students were present. Most of the dance affiliate faculty and staff were not present.

There were theater students in attendance, both BA and BFA majors. There were also people present who were not part of the Theatre Arts and Dance department, or affiliated with the University of Minnesota.

We found out later that the following people were also present in their official capacities, although their presence was not announced:

Dr. Rusty Barceló, Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity
Dr. Rickey Hall, Assistant Vice President for Equity and Diversity
Dr. Louis Mendoza, Associate Vice Provost, Equity and Diversity
Kris Lockhart, Assistant Vice President and Chief of Staff, Equity and Diversity
Dr. Ilene Alexander, Consultant, Center for Teaching and Learning
Josh Casper, Ombudsman and Associate Director, Student Conflict Resolution Center

Although Carl Flink, Chair of the Department of Theater Arts & Dance, had sent an email to the theater list serve inviting students and faculty to attend the Town Hall, he announced in the lobby beforehand that the program wanted to ensure that dance major students and faculty were seated first, and that fire codes only permitted a certain number of people in the auditorium. He said that the event would be televised on the screen in the lobby of the building for the people who were unable to get inside.

After the majority of the dance program students and faculty had entered, other attendees were permitted to enter, as extra seats were brought in and set up. The final count of people inside the room after the meeting began was not monitored, and there were people who watched the proceedings from the lobby monitor.

Dr. Ananya Chatterjea introduced the meeting, naming the artists of color and anti-racist scholars both hired as professors in the Dance Program and recently invited as Cowles Land Grant Chair Guest Artists. She also provided a brief summary of Dance Program professors’ history of anti-racist artistic and scholarly work. She referenced the email that we had sent out to student organizations on campus, saying that "the intention of this meeting is not what ‘us’ claims". She also said, "We hear your pain...thank you for making it so clear".

She then introduced Dr. Catherine Squires, whom the dance program had invited to be the facilitator for the meeting.

Permission was not given for the meeting to be video taped.

Dr. Catherine Squires introduced the format for the meeting. She asked attendees to form groups (of approx. ten people), separated into students, faculty, and staff. Groups were told to discuss and write down their answers for the following three issues:

1. What questions do you have for people in dance dept or university, questions that the protest brought up for you?
2. What values do you think this program and university should embody/reinforce?
3. What goals/solutions do you have about the curriculum, recruitment etc.

Dr. Catherine squires then explained that she was going to go around in a talking circle format, in which she would stand next to each group who then presented their answers.

When all groups had presented, notes from each group were collected by the Dance Program.

Any additions/corrections to this record are welcome.

Note: We have taken several of the direct references in this post from a set of unofficial meeting notes taken by a dance student that were sent to the Theater and Dance listserves. We delayed making this post in the hopes that official transcripts of Dr. Chatterjea's introduction and the group discussion notes would be made available; this has not yet happened.

Click here to read full text and see images.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Responses: March 12, 2009

We were anonymously forwarded an email that Dr. Ananya Chatterjea had sent out to multiple faculty members not only outside the program but outside the university, calling for an "urgent request for support":

Subject: urgent request for support
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 2009 12:59:08 -0500
From: Ananya Chatterjea
To: [recipient names redacted]

Dear Colleagues,

Hope this finds you well. I am writing with an urgent request. Recently, we have witnessed an incredible exhibit taking over the Barker: the "This" protest project. it began with a back stairwell exhibit on "white privilege" at which point I sent out an email to the student body, assuming it was them, congratulating them and hoping that it would spark more vibrant conversations about raced bodies among our student body. This has lead to more and more mushrooming of this exhibit and while some amazing things have happened --like the covering up of the pictures of all white choreographers and dancers in the classroom and studio 300-- and some troubling questions have come up.

For instance, since no one will assume responsibility for this exhibit, and this is happening in an entirely guerilla way, we have to assume to that students have somehow been able to access a master key to the building, or are working with custodial staff, in order to get inside the faculty bathroom, the studios etc all of which are locked by 10 pm. we have heard that some students have been seen on ladders at 2:30 am. Now, because they are putting posters up on really hard to reach places, issues of insurance are coming up as well as those of safety.

Moreover, we believe that much of this is related to an issue about casting around a contested piece for our last concert, which is much more complicated than it seems to be. Interestingly, I do not see any of my students of color clamoring to be part of my dance company of women of color doing social justice work, or work with the choreographers of color we have steadily brought in. They are angry because they did not get to participate in a mainstream dance piece. I do not mean to trivialize their struggle, but am baffled by their lack of self-examination.

On Monday, perhaps because they could not get us to be angry, they posted a scathing "open letter" to the Dance Program, lashing out at everybody and classifying the work done by faculty of color as "failures" when of course our steady work over at least the past 10 years for me, and thereafter for others, has produced so much change. Honestly if what Diyah, Cindy, Maija, and I teach is not anti-racist, I dont know what that might be. But more troubling is that while some of the quotes (about intersectionality) are directly from what I teach, a lot of the pictures and quotes they have put up remind of the old project of multicultural diversity, not really difference.

This has now escalated to a point beyond my ability at least to stomach, also because the 3 faculty of color who are in the BBCD, Diyah, Toni, and I, feel specifically targeted, and openly called out as being "complicit with bureaucracy." Also, Dance has been moving along for sure through the work we have been doing, the faculty went through an anti-racist workshop and training program 2 years ago, that then caused us to ask more questions. Many of these are reflected in curricular shifts, one of these I am implementing as my first major change as Director: introduction of a multi-level track in African dance in the main curriculum. There are other changes as well including considerations of a collaboration with African American and African Studies next year, so we are able to bring in several black choreographers to work with students.

Anyways, tomorrow (fri) from 1:30-3:30 I have called a Town Hall in Barker 100, largely because these anonymous protesters have performed their attacks, but not proposed any desired outcomes. Catherine Squires has kindly kindly kindly agreed to moderate this. Thank you Catherine!! However, because of the outreach these students (i have just learned that this includes possibly 2 students of color and 2 white) have done, the issue is totally spectacularized, and the Barker seems irredeemable, and its faculty totally ineffective.

I am fully aware that this is the day before spring break and it is ridiculous to ask you for even more of your time. But if you could show some support by showing up at the town hall, i would so so so appreciate it. I really need your support, as do the other faculty of color in this program!



Click here to read full text and see images.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Responses: March 10, 2009

Below are photos of the changes that someone (not us) made to our word posts in the 2nd floor Men's locker room/bathroom as photographed on March 10. They added the word "Proud" above "ashamed" over the question, "What are you ashamed of?" that we posted.

In the second photo, all the posts they relocated were placed above the hand towel dispenser.

From response - march 10

From response - march 10

For the complete album of March 10 Responses, click below:
response - march 8 and 10, 2009

Click here to read full text and see images.

Reponses: March 8 and March 10, 2009

The following posts were made on Monday, March 8 by people not us, as a response to our Open Letter to the Dance Program (

On the first door of the main entrance someone (unidentified with a name or pseudonym) posted some questions to consider.
From response - march 10

Text reads:


We considered, then responded in a post next to it.
From response - march 10

The text of our posting reads:


Oppression should be unequivocally rejected. It is not the burden of the people being silenced to reject the place in which it happens, in this case the Barbara Barker Center for Dance. Oppressors do not have more ownership of or entitlement to the space where the oppression happens. “Unequivocal” simply means “clear and unambiguous”. We do see the building clearly being a place of privilege and prejudice, just as we see the world outside as clearly being the same. We don’t, however, see it as being unalterably or unforgivably so.


Students do not “take advantage” of the resources that they are paying a very large amount of money for. They are entitled to them, and to voice their grievance if those resources fail to meet their needs.


You are trivializing the issue of the violence of racism and abuse of privilege by equating it with a “personal grievance”. Many people choose to fight a battle only when it arrives at their doorstep. Not every survivor can or should be an activist. We are not making it personal—we have spent five weeks cultivating the idea of institutional racism and privilege, and one of the reasons we remain anonymous is so that the focus is on the issues, not the personalities.

The second posting on the inside door of the main entrance - written in the same style as the last.
From response - march 10

Text reads:


We responded some more.
From response - march 10

The text of our response reads:


We agree it is very important to investigate the anti-racist work our teachers here have done, which we have respect and admiration for. Our criticism of faculty actions and inaction does not negate the anti-racist work they have done, and likewise, their anti-racist work does not automatically negate the issues we have brought out in the open about the mishandling of racism in this program. Additionally, if you expect us as students to be informed about all the anti-racist work that the faculty has done, the faculty should be expected to educate each other with it. The faculty’s anti-racist work has not made the department free of racism.


Yes, there are many ways to dismantle and transform. None of them are easy, and all of them are complex and long-term. If the University is committed to promoting racial equality and justice, it must work rigorously and consistently to implement these solutions.


Is it enough to demolish what? White privilege? Institutional racism? Bigotry and prejudice based on any kind of identity? Demolishing any one of those would not just be enough, but miraculous and utopian. Unless you mean is it enough to demolish the pretense that everything is fine and no one feels silenced... in which case, no, it is not enough, but it is enough of a start. We are not sure what else it is you think we are demolishing, besides the white pallor of the walls.

-- us, March 11, 2009 (

Erin F. McIntyre, freshman, also posted twice next to our Open Letter (in handwriting)
From response - march 10

close up - top posting
From response - march 10

text reads:
THAT [with arrow]
is a protest to the passive aggressive behavior of THIS towards the students and faculty of the University of Minnesota dance program, regardless of "color" or race.
Erin F. McIntyre, freshman class, student of "color"

close up - bottom posting
From response - march 10

text reads:
part of a protest is acknowledging that some people will openly disagree with you...

our response to the top post
From response - march 10

text reads:

We think we are more constructively and passionately aggressive, rather than passively, but we support your right to protest our protest, and would like to reassure you that we do not assume that we speak for any students—of any race—besides ourselves.

-- us, March 11, 2009 (

our response to the bottom posting
From response - march 10

From response - march 10

text reads:

We not only acknowledge it, but we also acknowledge the many who have silently made visible their displeasure about us.

-- us, March 11, 2009 (

To view complete album, click below:
response - march 8 and 10, 2009

There were also changes to the 2nd floor Men's bathroom. Photos and update to come.

Click here to read full text and see images.

Responses: March 10 and 11, 2009

This is the first official response from someone besides Dr Ananya Chatterjea: it is an email sent by Carl Flink, the chair of the Theatre Arts and Dance department. Although the email is dated March 10th, it is time-stamped 2:33AM, meaning that it was sent out before anyone saw Part 9, which went up on March 9. The email was sent to the dance program list serve, and also to the theatre list serve, making it the first official mention of our protest outside the program.

Sub: [Dance] THIS - The Protest Project at the Barker Center
Date: 3/10/2009 2:33 AM

Dear Rarig Center Department Faculty, Staff & Students:

I would like to make you all aware of a spontaneous non-dance program directed happening which has been taking place for the past few weeks at the Barker Center. An exhibit of words and images called THIS - The Protest Project has been expanding thoughout the stairwells, halls and other surfaces of the Barker transforming the building into a vibrant space of protest and questioning of the privilege, prejudice and impacts of institutional power that exist in even a presumed "liberal" space such as the Barker Center and I might add the university as a whole. The project is driven by an anonymous group of dance program students who have invested an incredible amount of personal time and resources in creating this exhibit.
In the words of Director of Dance Ananya Chatterjea the project raises questions such as "What indeed is privilege and how does it play out in institutions like academia? How do our everyday practices reflect ingrained social prejudices?" Professor Chatterjea also points out that the exhibit raises even more complex observations and questions like "No space is
uniform, because no population/community is uniform. What transformative possibilities exist in this building, or can be eked out from the practices that reside here? What ways might there be to dismantle such prejudice as exist here? How can we build on the energy generated through this exhibit and reflect on our practices?"

This past Saturday night I spent an hour wandering through the Barker with my partner Emilie experiencing this dynamic event. I found it an incredible journey.

I encourage you to take the time to stop by the Barker and witness THIS - The Protest Project.


The following email was sent out only to the theatre arts department list-serve, by the department peer advisers. They have also linked to our blog from their website with the following text:

THIS: The Protest Project at the BBCD Click here to visit the blog about the project- And go see it NOW!

Date: 3/10/2009 12:45 PM

Dear Peoples of Rarig,

Have you been to the Barker recently? If you haven't, please go right now. Read the writings on the walls: they are everywhere and they are blatantly protesting this department and this institution while simultaneously creating a space of unavoidable conversations about the issues raised. Next week hundreds of dance academics from across the country will be at the Barker for the ACDFA conference and they will see this. They will see how stundents within our department are reacting to their education and place within this department. We can not stress this enough: THESE ARE RARIG'S ISSUES TOO! While theatre and dance are housed in different buildings, we are under the same governing body of faculty. Do not convince yourself that this has nothing to do with you: it absolutely does.


How will Rarig respond to this? We hope it will not be through isolation, inaction and silence. Barker is a block away: time constraints and "no reason to go there" are not excuses. This e-mail is a reason to go there. Don't tell yourself you're too busy. Everybody is too busy. MAKE THE TIME. There will be a town hall concerning this protest on Friday at 1:30 in the Barker, we hope to see many of you there.

Don't let apathy rule your life,
The Peers

Notes: The event referred to in the email is the North Central Regional American College Dance Festival Association Conference, which will be hosted by the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities from March 18 to 22.

There were at least two physical responses to our open letter posted on the walls of the Barker; we will add documentation as we are able.

The final official response from the faculty was another email from Carl Flink, time stamped just after midnight, so technically sent on March 11. This email was sent to the peers, the theatre department list serve, the dance majors student list serve, the dance program list serve, and the dance faculty list serve (which means a lot of people must have got it twice.)

Sub: [Dance] THIS - The Protest Project
Date: 3/11/2009 12:10 AM

Dear Department of Theatre Arts & Dance Faculty, Staff and Students:

Below are e-mails sent from myself and Director of Dance Ananya Chatterjea in which we both expressed strong personal support for the activities of THIS and encouraging department members to experience it. Please take the time to read them as well so you understand that the dance program and the department are fundamentally engaged in this dialogue and that there are multiple perspectives on this happening.

The town hall this Friday was called by Ananya and the dance faculty because we want to talk about the issues raised by THIS. It was meant to be a dance program event, but if more attend from the larger department we'll look forward to having your presence in the Barker too. Unfortunately, I will arrive 30 minutes late for this event because of a residency commitment at a Mpls. Public school.

Many dance faculty chose to not hold class today, Tuesday, so that the entire program and department could be focused on THIS and the open letter that was added to it. The faculty did not simply leave the building but stayed in the lobby talking with students or just being present in order to signal our connection to this happening and the commitment we feel to this program and its evolution. Many students gathered in the Barker studios to carry-on student driven discussions on this subject.

The department has and always will be deeply committed to supporting the free expression of our students, faculty and staff. The ongoing presence of THIS on the surfaces of the Barker is a testimony to that in and of itself.
As we move forward with these conversations, I encourage multiple perspectives and voices to come forward and be heard on the issues raised by THIS and the growing responses to it.


Note: The email then quotes the entirety of Carl Flink's previous email of March 10, Dr. Ananya Chatterjea's email of March 9, and the Peers' email of March 10.

Click here to read full text and see images.

Update: March 10, 2009

On Wednesday morning we sent out an email to POC student groups and several faculty of color within the University inviting them to the town hall meeting on Friday. The text as follows:


We are a group of Dance students of Color at UMN-TC. For the past month, we have been anonymously installing a protest project in the Barbara Barker Center for Dance building. We have been putting up articles, quotes and pictures relating to racism and privilege, starting in the back stairwell, and spreading out over a number of days, to the second and main floors, as well as the classroom and studio on the third floor. We have been documenting the protest at our blog here:

Thus far, there has been no mention of this protest outside of the Theatre Arts and Dance department. A mandatory Dance Program town hall has been scheduled by the director of the dance program for this Friday the 13th, from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.

The tension surrounding this Town Hall, and the questions about our identities have been significantly raised since Monday night, when we posted our open letter to the dance program on the walls of the building. The full text of the letter can be found here:

The faculty have raised concerns about the safety of the building as though our actions indicated a threat more urgent than packaging tape on paintwork; as a result, we feel that the town hall will end up focused around the question of our identities, the validity of our methods and the tone of our protest, rather than around the issue of the failure of the University to dismantle institutional racism and educate about White privilege.

Given the deeply personal relationships and power dynamics between us and the students and faculty who will be at the Town Hall, we do not anticipate feeling particularly comfortable or safe during the event.

What we would be grateful for, more than anything else, would be the presence of other people like us--people who are concerned and interested in the University's commitment to safe spaces for racially diverse students.

We would love it if you could come to the Town Hall, if only to, by your bodily presence, help us feel less isolated and alone. We are sure that the discussion, however it proceeds, will be interesting to you, and we are pretty sure that just by being there you will help change the dynamics in the room.

We invite you to at the very least, come and see the white walls that we have claimed for ourselves, covered in the voices and images of people like us.

A map to the Barbara Barker Center for Dance can be found here:

Please forward this to other list-serves and to students and faculty whom you feel might find it of interest.



Click here to read full text and see images.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Part 9: Open Letter to the Dance Program + Statement on the Protection of White Walls

From part 9: March 9

Today we posted our open letter to the Dance Program on the glass walls of the main floor lobby. We posted on the main office door a response to the faculty's concern over the paint on the walls.

Open Letter to the Dance Program:

THIS is not an exhibit.

THIS is a protest.

THIS protests against the lack of safe space for students of Color in this program.

THIS protests against the failure of the faculty as representatives of the University, to provide students the resources they need to be anti-racist allies.

Anti-racist activism is not an aesthetic choice for self-expression to be judged on its creative merit: our purpose is political agitation.

To the faculty and staff, we say:

Mere support for guerrilla art does not support us as students in the issues we are protesting; it co-opts our cause. Do not focus on the pride you feel in your 'intelligent, thoughtful students,' or the idea that you have made us so. Concentrate instead on the ways you've failed us as teachers and administrators.

THIS is your problem. You are responsible for it. The Mission Statement of the University of Minnesota declares it your job to:

Prepare students, interested in continuing education and lifelong learning, for active roles in a multiracial and multicultural world…provide an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance, [and] empower individuals within its community (

You have not yet met these goals.

You have demonstrated a profound disconnect between the theories you teach, the ideals you talk about, and the actions you practice. You preach a pragmatism about 'the real world' while at the same time practice a blindness to the real racism that exists. You have shown an unwillingness to carry through the momentary thoughtful discussions that occur in individual, personal interactions to take definitive, institutional action. There is a deafening silence about the intimidation and coercion of students, as well as a participation in faculty politics that prevents you from learning from each other in order to create a healthy atmosphere of mutual respect that has a unified approach to valuing us.

THIS is not just in response to any one person or any specific incident, although the straw that broke our camel back was the discussion around casting and cultural appropriation that occurred during the Dance Revolutions’ post-mortem meeting on February 9, 2009. That discussion proved that the discourse on race in this program has not moved to a higher level in the years we have observed the program faculty repeatedly promise to treat it as an important issue.

We cannot have productive discussions about racism when you have a need to assure everyone that their voices are equally important. The pain of our fellow White students confronting their privilege and guilt about racism is not the same as the pain of students of Color dealing with the sometimes numbingly routine, sometimes shockingly unexpected experiences of being a visible minority.

You should not glorify perseverance in the face of injustice. You should not equate surviving abuse with making lemonade out of lemons. Racism is not a natural disaster -- it is perpetuated by you, even when you are continually working to dismantle a system that privileges them at the cost of others.

To use individual students’ pain as a teaching tool is the symptom of a lazy and selfish pedagogy. Discussions born from our anguish are not “brilliant.” The momentary empathy and enlightenment generated in White students is not more valuable that the frustration and fear required from us to create those “learning situations.” When the only discussions are personal, White students learn about pain without acknowledging their privilege, and students of Color learn that our voices will be co-opted, ignored, belittled, or squashed.

To our teachers we say:

We do not want the hypocrisy of a relationship that simulates honesty at the cost of our silence. Open dialogue can only happen when there is a respect for all the voices participating in it. It is your loss if you cannot be as open to and desirous of correction as you ask your students to be.

We are not overly concerned in assuring the University of our safety for the purposes of insurance liability; we have taken responsibility for our bodies in this as we do every day in our actions as students and human beings.

If you are concerned with our safety and well being, focus on what truly makes us feel unsafe. What really threatens us is the lack of a space where our minds are not assaulted by prejudice and our voices are not silenced by ignorance and privilege.

You cannot create safety by vocal assurances of good intent. You can only earn our trust by consistent, rigorous action. Hearing our criticism is a privilege; it is not our responsibility to educate you about the mistakes you make, but a measure of the belief we have in your good intentions.

To the faculty of Color, we say:

We recognize the difficulties you face in negotiating the power you have as faculty with the challenges you face as people of Color. We respect the battles you have fought and the work you do, even as we include you in our criticism. We are angered by the attempts to use your identities as weapons against our dissatisfaction, and resent the implications that your bodies are part of the “solution” to the “diversity problem”, because we learn from you and respect you not because of your race, but because of the quality of your knowledge and teaching. We agree that the burden of educating your White colleagues and superiors should not have to fall on you, but we must point out that your failure to do so has led to their continual assault on us. We are grateful when you help fight injustice on our behalf, but we want to remind you that you cannot speak for us, because your bodies of Color are marked with an institutional power and privilege that we do not have.

To our fellow students, we say:

If you have felt threatened, alienated, or angered by the voices on these walls, perhaps you might want to consider the extent to which we—your classmates, your peers, your friends—have been silenced for the sake of your comfort. We stand by all the words on these walls. They speak for us when we are too afraid or drained or angered to.

If you cannot understand why you must be subjected to them—take it up with your teachers. It is the responsibility of this university to educate you about views and opinions other than your own, and the education you pay for has failed you if it leaves you exposed to hurting or alienating out of ignorance the people you work with and care for.

We have put the means of educating yourself inside this very building—ignoring them exposes you to our disappointment at your willful blindness, and that you have the freedom to make that choice is a privilege. We support your anger at the institution for not giving you these tools—you have a right to demand that it is the faculty’s job to educate you.

To those who see our anonymity as cowardice, we say:

We do not trust personal discussions with any of you because you have proven yourself unfaithful too often. We are first and foremost concerned with protecting our minds and hearts from the assaults they are routinely subjected to every time we try to engage with activism. We spent four weeks creating moments where the building became safe for us because we had the freedom to invest our energy in our cause without being derailed, decried, or despised. We will only talk to those whom we trust, on the terms that we set, because any other kind of dialogue has proven unproductive for us. We have seen how even faculty members feel silenced because of their fear of those with more power than them. In such an unhealthy climate of institutional intimidation, we have no desire to test the fairness of those who hold power over our academic, financial and intellectual standing in this university.

To those who would ask us, "Well, what are you doing to be part of the solution?" we say:

Placing the burden of fighting racism on those who have to deal with it every day derails the issue. It is unjust to demand activism from students who are already coping with surviving in a system that is actively, continually, and consciously stacked against them. The solution comes from the perpetrators being held accountable.

We take real risks in challenging people in power--people who have a direct hand in our careers and dreams and aspirations, and it is a risk for us to challenge people whom we respect, admire and have deep affection for.

Do not ask us for some easy, ultimate solution when the space is not even safe enough for us to openly state the problem. We demand change from those whose inaction we are protesting.

To anyone reading this who thinks institutional racism is irrelevant:

The act of silencing is an act of violence. The abuse of power permitted by privilege is an act of violence. Talking about it is no more inappropriate than talking about sexual violence. Racism must not be treated like the molesting uncle in the family whose public acceptance is bought by the suppression of his victim’s voices. It is more shameful to be silent about the violence that to feel ashamed about its existence. Denial only aids the oppressor, and hurts the survivor.

As we confront our own unthinking prejudices and strive to become better allies to each other, we are very aware of the magnitude of what we are asking of you.

So --

THIS is how we feel. What are you going to do with this knowledge?

-- us, March 9, 2009 (

From part 9: March 9

A Statement about the Protection of White Walls

We have done our best to ensure no harm comes to the building. Your worry for the “safety of...the building...being compromised” implies a threat that is out of proportion to the cosmetic injuries of peeling paint. Part of what we are protesting is that the resources that we students pay for have not been used to give us the anti-racist protection we need—in that regard, the money we have spent on this protest serves us better than our money that the University will spend on fresh paint.

We are saddened that being complicit with bureaucracy forces a real person to take a stance that says “We care more about the safety of paint than we do about Anti-racist protest.”

We will try to use the sort of mounting adhesives you ask us to, while observing the irony in us complying, at our considerable financial expense, with your demand to protect the assets the abusive system values over our protests at its failure to use the money we give it to satisfactorily protect and serve us.

If the program is indeed supportive of the material on the walls, then we suggest you actively demonstrate that support by supplying the adhesives you would like to be used, and replacing it on all the existing material.

We realize that this is a lot of work, but if you were to ask our fellow students for help, by providing materials and setting an example, we suspect that many of them would be happy to do so. Some of them might be us.

We would definitely see any removal of the material on the walls as an act of further silencing, and we are not the only ones who would feel that way.

Response: March 9, 2009

From Responses: March 9, 2009

Below is the third email sent out to the dance majors student list-serve as well as the dance staff, musician and faculty listserves, once again by Dr. Ananya Chatterjea; director of the dance program. It was sent out in the morning, before Part 9 was up.

Sub: [Dancemajors] TOWN HALL FRIDAY
Date: 3/9/2009 3:25 PM

Dear all,

The exhibit that has been mushrooming over our building has provoked very interesting questions: What indeed is privilege and how does it play out in institutions like academia? How do our everyday practices reflect ingrained social prejudices? There is great momentum here to ask really powerful questions and ready ourselves for change.

There are more complex questions to be asked as well: No space is uniform, because no population/community is uniform. What transformative possibilities exist in this building, or can be eked out from the practices that reside here? What ways might there be to dismantle such prejudice as exist here? How can we build on the energy generated through this exhibit and reflect on our practices?

To this end, I am calling a mandatory Town Hall on Friday from 1:30-3:30 in 100. While I am aware that this will not resolve all of the questions that have been brought up, I do hope we can all attempt together to begin to create a safe space to ask questions and have a productive dialogue around issues of difference. I also want to urge us all to think about how certain projects might be performative and very successful in drawing our attention to certain questions, but they do not always offer opportunities to work towards a specific set of goals. The goal of this Town Hall is to get us to outline goals and move us towards certain parameters. This is only the first of such Town Halls this semester.

Once again, while this exhibit has been personally very enriching to me, I doubt that, if the safety either of the individuals involved in the exhibit or of the building in which we all work--many of us with a rich history in anti-racist work--is compromised, then we are moving towards some vision equity or justice.

I look forward to seeing everybody at this event.

Thank you so much for your attention.

Click here to read full text and see images.

Part 9: March 9, 2009

Today we posted our open letter to the dance program as well as a response to the faculty's concern about paint. We will post the text in its own separate post.

We also posted words in the 2nd floor Men's and Women's bathrooms.

Additionally, we added to existing parts: added photos of Naseeruddin Shah, Reza Aslan, and Dgakapurra Munyarryun in the second floor back stairwell, added two more photos to the invisible bodies section, posted another sign on the other public entrance to the building that reads "You are now entering a space of privilege and prejudice", and added a THIS to the underside of the lobby stairs.

Combined person hours: 41
This figure includes time spent together in a physical space doing final editing and preparation for Part 9.
This figure does not include all writing, editing, research, organizing, printing, hashing and rehashing ideas, documentation, and recovery.
This figure does not include the time of allies who have helped us write, and have written to us.

Financial costs: final costs to be calculated. Spent $10 on double sided tape to comply with the faculty request that we use paint-friendly adhesives. The words in the bathroom fell down.


To view full photo album, go to:

back door - main floor

From part 9: March 9

2nd floor Men's and Women's bathroom doors read "What are you ashamed of?"
From part 9: March 9

the inside of the Men's bathroom

From part 9: March 9

From part 9: March 9

From part 9: March 9

From part 9: March 9

the inside of the Women's bathroom
From part 9: March 9

From part 9: March 9

to view full album, click below:

part 9: March 9

Click here to read full text and see images.