Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at KCAD

As part of Ferris State University, we look to the words of founder Woodbridge N. Ferris, who is credited as saying, “My plea in Michigan – and it will be my plea to the last breath I draw, and the last word I speak – is education for all children, all men, and all women of Michigan, all the people in all our states all the time”.

Since 2013 at KCAD, there has been an active Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students. As part of the KCAD Senate, the DEI Committee charge reads: “Identify Kendall’s challenges and strengths in achieving and relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recommend institutional goals relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recommend structures, initiatives, and policies relevant to supporting, educating, and promoting diversity, education, and inclusion initiatives”. This committee has helped to inform change around space, programming, training, and policies at KCAD.

In 2020, the KCAD President assembled an advisory committee, the KCAD Equity Council. This is a group of KCAD and Ferris State University employees, students, alumni, and community influencers. The charge of this group reads: “The KCAD Equity Council advises and informs KCAD policies, procedures, and practices to create an environment where inclusion is prioritized, and diversity and equity follow. The Council assists with identifying opportunities and initiatives for change, improvement, and action to support community, allyship, and agency”. This group works with the KCAD administration to inform change and brings a community perspective to the conversation. There is representation from the KCAD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee on The KCAD Equity Council.

We define diversity, equity, and inclusion in these ways:

Diversity recognizes and embraces our differences, both individually and socially. We may differ based on race, gender, age, citizenship status, religious affiliation, ability, familial status, and socio-economic status, amongst other identities, but we thrive in our community because of, not in spite of, these differences of experience.

Equity is about fairness, justice, and creating opportunities for people to thrive on campus. A commitment to equity means a commitment to the distribution of resources according to one’s needs. Within the KCAD community, this means that students, staff, and faculty should have fair access to community resources and opportunities. No individuals or groups of people should be asked to carry a greater burden than the rest of the community. Community members who need accommodations for access in and outside of classes and who need administrative, creative, and academic support should be able to get their needs met quickly and with ease to sustain a standard of living conducive to functioning well in their roles in the community. A belief in equity means we must lift everyone so that we all start on an equal level: only then will be able to achieve our best.

Inclusion is about collaboration, connection, and empowerment. Diversity is enormously important. But achieving diversity is not the end of creating a climate of access and open inquiry for students, faculty, and staff. Inclusion is necessary because it prioritizes historically marginalized community members and centers them in artistic and academic spaces and discourse at KCAD. This enhances the learning community for everyone at KCAD as we learn to ask questions and think critically about the world we build. Inclusion is active and it is an ongoing process; like diversity, it needs to be implemented in terms of membership of students, faculty, and staff at KCAD, but it cannot stop there. Inclusion must be an integral part of curriculum, programming, and conversations both within and outside of the classroom.

KCAD safeguards an individual’s constitutional rights and protected speech and supports diversity, equity, and inclusion across the college and the wider community. KCAD supports freedom of expression. KCAD defends the right to engage in awareness initiatives and educational dialogue to cultivate a constructive response to difficult topics and against actions that undermine our inclusive and safe community. An inclusive community promotes and sustains a sense of belonging: it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.