Friday, April 24, 2009

Response: April 24, 2009

We were sent an email from Josh Casper, the Ombudsman we have been in communication with, saying he'd been asked if we would be willing to post the the following announcement for a Students of Color meeting to our blog. Since we have been told it is a public announcement that has been sent to the peer advisers to distribute on the dance and theater list serves, we consider it an official university (but not dance program-driven) response, and publish it here as such.

To Students of Color in the Dance Program:

The Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE) has been following with interest the “This” protest and its multifaceted range of issues. MCAE is prepared to assist in any constructive way.

We write today to offer a service stemming from one of the issues raised in the second open letter. In the letter it states, “Students of Color and other minority identities should be acknowledged as having to deal with a continual additional burden of being a minority in an unsafe system, and should be provided space where they can safely speak about their experiences, without the burden of assuaging anyone’s guilt, or educating anyone’s ignorance, or being held responsible for generating solutions.”

We would like to provide a space for students to speak to what has been occurring, their experiences, etc. An MCAE staff member will be facilitating a discussion for students of color on Tuesday, April 28th at 3:45 p.m. in 215 Blegen Hall. We know that not all students of color will be able to meet during this time and would be open to identifying additional opportunities if needed.

The meeting isn’t about MCAE supporting or not supporting the protesters. We are aware that some students of color are supportive of the protest and others are not. Instead, this meeting is about creating a space for students of color to talk about their experiences on a predominately white campus. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to direct those to Josh Casper at

Click here to read full text and see images.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Part 14: April 22, 2009

We reposted our Open Letter to the Office for Equity and Diversity, which had been immediately torn down the first time we posted it on April 16. This time, we also included Dr. Barceló's response, as well as our response (text below). We posted one copy on the glass walls of the first floor lobby of the Barker Center, and the second copy on the glass walls of the theater program's administration offices on the 5th floor of the Rarig Center.

Note: The postings had already been taken down in the Barker as of 8:05AM the next morning. The building officially opens at 8am. At some point the same day, the postings at the Rarig Center were also removed. No one has publicly claimed responsibility.

Text of our response to Dr. Barceló:

Sub: Re: An Open Letter to the Office for Equity and Diversity
Date: April 21, 2009 1:42AM

Dear Dr. Barceló,

We have decided that we would like to meet with you in person. We are hopeful that it will help in getting concrete action from the dance program before the semester is over. Thank you for stating that you will respect our anonymity, and we do ask that you keep our identities and the contents of our meetings confidential unless otherwise stated.

The best time for us to meet with you is [date/time redacted]. We welcome the presence of Dr. Louis Mendoza and Dr. Rickey Hall, as well as Josh Casper, who we would like present at any and all meetings discussing the protest (Josh, will you be available?).

We would very much appreciate, if you would not like your letter to us to be made public, a public statement from the OED giving students as much information as the director and chair of the dance program have about your involvement. It is important to us that the dance program administration is not privileged with information that the students do not have public access to. We are copying on this email only those offices who have communicated directly with us and whom we believe to be acting in good faith.

We look forward to meeting with you.


Josh Casper
Dr. Louis Mendoza
Dr. Rickey Hall


At the Barker Center:
From Part 14 - April 23, 2009

At the Rarig Center:
From Part 14 - April 23, 2009

To view complete album, click on icon below or go to:

From Part 14 - April 23, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Responses: April 20, 2009

We received permission to post the following email, which is a response to our Open Letter to the Office for Equity and Diversity from Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló, Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity at the University of Minnesota:

Sub: Re: An Open Letter to the Office for Equity and Diversity
Date: 4/20/2009 7:08 PM

Dear us:

I have been watching with interest the events unfolding within the U of M Dance Program. I, and others on my staff, attended the town hall meeting and offered the services of our office as soon we became aware of the concerns. I am pleased that you have requested our assistance and we stand ready to help in any way we can.

I spoke by phone with Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Richa Nagar on Friday morning, April 17, 2009 to discuss ideas I had about addressing the complex array of concerns raised by "THIS" protest.

The mission of the Office for Equity and Diversity is to support and enrich the experience of students, staff and faculty on campus by fostering mutual understanding and respect that builds on the strengths and synergy resulting from diverse experiences and perspectives. These values will guide us in our work with all members of the Dance Program.

I believe the most important first-step our office can take is to work with the students, staff, and faculty of the Dance Program to develop a constructive, intentional, and systematic process to address the concerns raised. The multifaceted range of issues that have been identified, including concerns with climate, policies, practices, communication, and governance, require a long-term commitment. Meaningful change requires patience and sustained engagement, the ability to listen and the will to act. I see the potential for our work together to serve as a model that can be used across campus for turning difficult dialogues into an opportunity for creative transformation.

Having said this, I also want to make my office accessible to you in a way that you feel will be most effective to resolve these issues, so I want to work with you to determine where to begin and what direction to take. I suggest we meet (or dialogue in an alternative format of your choosing) as soon as possible to explore how we can best begin the work. I am available Tuesday evening, April 21 or Wednesday, April 22 [time redacted]. I can speak with you alone, or, with two of my colleagues, Louis Mendoza and Rickey Hall, who are also available during those times and either of them could be included in our discussion at your discretion.

If one of the above times would work, please respond to this email. If these times do not work for you, or you wish to propose an alternative form of communication that respects your anonymity, I would ask you to contact, Celest Miller at 626-9836 or to determine another time for our meeting.

I appreciate that you contacted me directly and that you have taken what you feel is a risk to do so. Please know that we take your concerns very seriously and we will do everything we can to support an outcome that is meaningful and constructive for everyone.


Nancy “Rusty” Barceló
Vice President and Vice Provost

cc: Josh Casper
Ananya Chatterjea
Carl Flink
Richa Nagar

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Response: April 19, 2009

Tonight Carl Flink sent out to the dance majors and theatre list serves an email jointly signed by him and Dr. Ananya Chatterjea.
We have updated our annotated timeline with the pertinent quotes and our responses to them.

Sub: Ongoing Departmental Dialogue Updates
Date: 4/19/2009 9:55 PM

Dear Department Students, Staff & Faculty:

We want to update you on the steps that we are taking at a departmental level to address the questions of institutional power, privilege and prejudice that have been raised by the THIS Project and some other students within the department in recent months. We also want to update you on conversations around the status of the departmental peers for next year.

In terms of student input on the first matter above, we are currently waiting for the peers/ombudsmen's office-driven dialogue that has had two conversations facilitated by Ombudsmen Office representative Josh Casper to develop a roster of suggested actions for the department to consider for raising awareness and understanding on these important issues within the department. We also congratulate the students who organized and participated in the recent training on white privilege led by University Faculty member Lisa Albrecht.

At the departmental level, Ananya and I are currently working with College of Liberal Arts Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs Richa Nagar to develop a dialogue with the University's Office of Equity and Diversity's Vice Provost Rusty Barcelo to identify how the Office and the CLA administration can best facilitate and support these ongoing dialogues. We hope that these conversations will bear some fruit in the coming weeks.

In terms of the status of the departmental peers, the department faculty has considered whether it is necessary to continue these positions as paid in the face of the impending budget cuts our department will need to address this summer. Over the past two weeks I have engaged in multiple thoughtful conversations with the Peers, Jasmine Rush of the X Board and a number of concerned BA students, as well as, department faculty and staff on how the department can move forward with the peers and still responsibly meet the budget reductions it is facing. I hope to have a final resolution in regards to the peers as early as this coming Friday. Students, if you have questions or input about this subject, I strongly encourage you to contact the Peers.


Carl Flink Ananya Chatterjea
Chair, Theatre Arts & Dance Director, Dance Program

Click here to read full text and see images.