The KCAD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee presents this statement to express our commitment to and hope for KCAD’s embrace of equity and inclusion as fundamental qualities of the institution. As part of a college within Ferris State University, we look to the words of its 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.”
Beginning in 2013, the KCAD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee has worked to identify KCAD’s challenges and strengths in these areas. As part of the KCAD Senate, the DEI Committee’s 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, equity and inclusion. Monitor and report on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.”
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.
- Equity is about fairness, justice, and creating opportunities for all 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 up so that we all start on an equal level; only then will we all 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, staff, and faculty. Inclusion is necessary because it prioritizes historically marginalized community members and centers them in the artistic and academic spaces and discourses 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 the membership of students, staff, and faculty at KCAD, but it cannot not stop there. Inclusion must be an integral part of curriculum, programming, and conversations both within and outside of the classroom walls.
KCAD safeguards an individual’s constitutional rights and protected speech and supports diversity, equity, and inclusion across the college and wider community. KCAD supports freedom of expression. KCAD defends the right to engage in awareness initiatives and educational dialogue in order 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, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.
As Dean of Student Success, Sandy Britton, notes, “At KCAD, we work alongside one another to discover how our various identities help us deepen our collective understandings. It is important for all of us to show respect for those that hold different views. I encourage you to keep extending your arms in learning together, with dignity and respect, and to value our differences in an environment that is safe and void of hate.”
KCAD nurtures creativity. We challenge ourselves to learn from the best ideas, forms, and methods of the past in order to forge new voices and expression going forward. We embrace all manners of expression and support art that tackles all topics – including difficult ones. We create art, design, and scholarly work not in a vacuum but through connections with others. The future of KCAD depends, in large measure, on the efforts we make to infuse these ideas into our college-wide plans. But even as programs and initiatives are put into place, their success will depend on individuals and groups recognizing the extent to which their lives are enriched by a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. We need all voices, perspectives, and experiences to grow. This range of backgrounds is not merely something we celebrate. It is our fuel. It is something we need—creatively and academically—in order to innovate. This is KCAD at its best.
After speaking with KCAD students, staff, and faculty about their needs and interests, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee make the following recommendations to the KCAD Senate to bring to the administration to incorporate and foster these values:
- Invest in and implement campus-wide programming focused on uplifting marginalized student, staff, and faculty voices. This might include, but is not limited to, planning exhibitions of student artwork dealing with issues related to diverse and inclusive identities and communities; creating events that feature faculty scholarship and creative activity that actively engages in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion; celebrating commemorative days and months that highlight the historical and contemporary work done locally, nationally, and internationally to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Create, fund, and host equity and inclusion workshops for staff and faculty at KCAD that provide practical and sustainable training and suggestions for incorporating issues and approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion in curriculum, projects, and student interactions across all programs and offices.
- Implement and circulate institution-wide policies that enhance and enforce gender-neutral and accessible situations and facilities for all students, staff, and faculty. This includes, but is not limited to, the re-naming and/or building of single stall or unisex bathrooms in both the Fountain and Ferris buildings on campus; creating standard syllabus language that describes strategies for accessibility in classes; and highlighting inclusive policies already practiced at Ferris State University and KCAD, such as the recently-instituted preferred first name policy; creating a webpage on the KCAD site that includes DEI related resources, policies, programming, and information relevant to the above statements and recommendations.
Through this statement and set of recommendations, the KCAD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee hopes to engage with the full KCAD community to highlight all of our responsibilities regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. All KCAD stakeholders must be willing to participate and communicate with one another in order to truly bring about and embody our ideals of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus community.