Thursday, April 30, 2009

Part 15: April 30, 2009

We posted on the glass walls of the first floor lobby in the Barker the following response to the second town hall announcement, and addressed it to Dr. Barceló.

Note: This posting had already been taken down as of 8:09AM the next morning. The building officially opens at 8am. This is the fourth set of materials that has been immediately removed since our protest was ripped down in its entirety. No one has publicly claimed responsibility.

From Part 15 - April 30, 2009

Dr. Nancy "Rusty" Barceló
Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity
University of Minnesota

Dear Dr. Barceló:

We appreciated our first meeting with you, Dr. Louis Mendoza, and Dr. Rickey Hall on April 22, 2009. We felt that you acknowledged our voices and respected our concerns. As agreed upon in that meeting, we publicly posted your reply to our open letter, along with our response, so that our peers would know how communicative the Office for Equity and Diversity proved to have been (this material was immediately removed—twice from the walls of the Barker and once from Rarig. See blog for documentation).

In a jointly signed email sent to the theatre list serve today, Carl Flink and Dr. Ananya Chatterjea said that they had "a very positive and constructive conversation" with the Office for Equity and Diversity, along with CLA Dean Dr. Jim Parente and CLA Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs Dr. Richa Nagar. We are very glad that your input persuaded our department to start addressing the issues raised by our protest, and we join the chair and director in thanking the OED for your much-needed experience, expertise and resources.

While we were happy to hear the announcement of a second town hall meeting, we are very concerned about the date of this meeting. To hold it on May 19--11 days after the last day of classes in the dance program--makes it even more inaccessible than the poorly attended Spring Break meeting on March 17. We have always called for the largest possible number of voices and opinions to be involved in any decision making process in the program. The voices of the graduating seniors are essential in this conversation, given their centrality to both the Dance Revolutions experience and their cumulative knowledge of the past four years in the program. We feel that many seniors will find it both inconvenient and unnecessary to attend a meeting held two days after their formal commencement. Many of our peers will already have taken up summer jobs or be traveling by this date.

Since no official meetings can be held during finals week, we would urge you to therefore try and find a way to have this meeting before classes are over. Since the dance program and larger departmental discussions are to be separated anyway, perhaps these could be two distinct meetings, planned to match the individual dance and theatre schedules. We realize the inconvenience this will cause to all administrators involved; however, the first town hall meeting on March 13 was announced only five days in advance, and we feel that the last meeting that some students will attend deserves a similar sense of urgency.

If there is no way possible for this rescheduling to happen, then we would strongly recommend that the OED along with the Student Conflict Resolution Center set up office hours in the Barker to allow as many student and affiliate faculty input to be on the record as possible.

We have some concerns about the agenda for this meeting, as well as suggestions for immediate action that the program can take beforehand. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss these further; we will limit ourselves now to saying that the first step that Carl Flink and Dr. Ananya Chatterjea can take to "demonstrate the department's commitment to a collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders" is to actively support everyone's voices remaining on the walls. We have been struggling to keep this conversation public so that students remain included and are able to form their own opinions of our protest. We look forward to your continued demonstration of these shared values.

--us, April 30, 2009 (

Josh Casper
Dr. Louis Mendoza
Dr. Rickey Hall
dance list serve
theatre list serve

From Part 15 - April 30, 2009

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Part 15 - April 30, 2009

Response: April 30, 2009

The following email was sent out to the dance and theatre listservs, from Carl Flink's email, co-signed by both Carl Flink and Dr. Ananya Chatterjea.

Sub: Dialogues on Equity and Diversity
Date: April 30, 2009 4:40 PM

Dear TAD Department Faculty, Staff & Students:

On Tuesday morning, Ananya and I had a very positive and constructive conversation with Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) Vice President and Vice Provost Rusty Barcelo, Associate Vice Provost Louis Mendoza and Assistant Vice President Rickey Hall, as well as CLA Dean Jim Parenti and CLA Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs Richa Nagar. The discussion focused on next steps the dance program and our department might take in regards to the issues and suggestions raised by the THIS Protest and department students’ responses to it. We also discussed building on the department’s established and ongoing commitment and activities as a University leader on issues of equity, social justice and difference. We thank the leadership of OED and CLA for their commitment to supporting this process of reflection with their expertise, experience and possible resources if needed.

As the end of the semester is fast approaching and full to bursting with departmental activities, we understand the need to take concrete steps to demonstrate the department’s commitment to a collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders even as our time is somewhat limited. To advance this, we want to schedule some conversations that can help us identify a group of faculty, staff and students as a working group to develop an action plan for next fall and beyond.

After consultation with the OED staff, we will convene another department town hall meeting on Tuesday, May 19 from 10 – 12 p.m. Faculty, students and staffers from throughout the department are invited, however the meeting will be divided into two discussion groups: one will focus specifically on an action plan for the dance program, the second will focus on an action plan for the broader department. The purpose of two conversations is to provide a much needed space for the dance program community to convene to address its specific needs in this process while also facilitating a parallel and supporting dialogue for the department. These meetings will focus on where the program and department should go in the coming year and beyond. These meetings will be team-facilitated by department leaders and OED staff members.

We understand that May 19 is after the academic year has ended, but OED, CLA and we thought that it made more sense to schedule this meeting shortly after students, faculty and staff have completed the business of the academic year.

Vice Provost Barcelo has also generously offered to meet directly with dance program core faculty, affiliate faculty members and students to identify specific issues these groups face and would like addressed. These meetings will be planned in the next three weeks or in fall semester if that timing makes more sense.

We look forward to working with you all in the coming months on these critical and sensitive issues. Because of our students, staff and faculty, we think our department is uniquely positioned to make great progress on these very important matters.

Carl Flink
Chair, Theatre Arts & Dance

Ananya Chatterjea
Director of Dance

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