VCUarts fliers tell dean to address racist faculty

Photo by Brooke Marsh

Updated: Monday, Nov. 30, 3:30 a.m.

Photo by Brooke Marsh
Several VCUarts facilities and the dean’s office were covered in fliers the morning of Nov. 23. Photo by Brooke Marsh

Students covered VCUarts facilities, including the Pollack building, the Singleton Center for Performing Arts and the Fine Arts building, with fliers directed at their dean the morning of Nov. 23.

VCUarts dean Joseph Seipel had several fliers specifically taped to his office door. Some of the fliers stated “remove racist faculty right now” while others read, “Dear dean, what is more important to you … protecting money or upholding students’ rights?”

“(The) protest was extremely necessary,” said Malcolm Peacock, a senior painting and printmaking major.

Photo by Brooke Marsh
Photo by Brooke Marsh

Peacock said personal experiences prompted his participation. He said one example was when two professors stopped talking to him about the content of his work because it pertained to issues of black identity and history.

Furthermore, Peacock said acknowledging black rights made some faculty feel uncomfortable, and during a critique he was told there are other issues more important than the focus of his work.

Peacock said he met with the dean and his department chair on separate occasions, but saw a lackluster response on Seipel’s behalf.

After several classmates wrote letters to the dean addressing similar issues in the classroom and received no response, Peacock said he tried to file a complaint through VCU’s Office of Equity and Access Services but the proper form was not available online.

“When I called and asked about a form to file with they simply told me they would email it,” Peacock said.

A few hours later, Peacock said the Office of Equity and Access Services called him back to say they couldn’t find the appropriate form, but he could email them his report.

“Obviously there is just a huge lack of organization and lack of care for civil rights issues and the protection of those issues at VCU,” Peacock said.

Photo by Brooke Marsh
Photo by Brooke Marsh

After the fliers posted last week, Seipel sent an email to the VCUarts community the same day addressing the display.

“It’s common for us in the School of the Arts to say what we really think, to include it in our work, and to show it in public,” Seipel said in the email. “It is in this spirit of open dialogue and communication that we work; and it is a critical aspect to the work that we do in the arts.”

The dean then listed several ways the School of the Arts is working to better integrate diversity initiatives, including mandatory cultural competency training in the spring.

“The racism at VCU/VCUarts is deeper than classroom injustices, and our organizing will go further than hanging up posters,” said Taylor Manigoult, a former VCUarts student.

According to Manigoult, current students will not be pacified by emails; they are ready for a real change in both the classrooms and on campus.

“The response from the VCUarts administration is unfortunate, vague, and underwhelming. Student action was incited because there is an overwhelming number of students of color who have faced discrimination in the classroom not only by professors but by their peers and no one wants to address it,” said Zaira Qureshi, a senior graphic design student.

Qureshi said this is a problem because students feel their voices are not heard while having to endure mental and emotional abuse  by white colleagues.

As a school that uses our bodies and identities to market diversity, can someone tell me why they do not care about our rights, well-being or trauma? Are we valuable entities to this institution or just bodies for a marketing technique we never consented to?” Qureshi said.

Peacock said Qureshi’s statements are indicative of how all students of color that worked on the protest last week feel.

The fliers went up less than a week after VCU President Michael Rao led an hour-long diversity forum in the student commons on Nov. 18.

During the forum, Rao  and a group of collective black students, Black VCU Speaks, opened the discussion by sharing remarks.

“It’s clear that diversity at VCU does not include Blackness,” said junior Angelique Scott to the audience of more than 400 attendees.

The forum was held in response to students’ demonstrating in the Compass and the president’s office in solidarity with their peers at the University of Missouri, and to address issues of race on VCU’s campus including cultural incompetency, the low number of underrepresented faculty and staff and lacking counseling services and safe spaces specifically for students of color.

In Seipel’s email, he stated each faculty position at the School of the Arts will have a recruitment plan with enhanced resources and strategies focused on recruitment of underrepresented candidates.

“I will be personally reviewing the makeup of all candidacy pools for new hires at the School of the Arts and will not certify a search to continue unless I am assured that we have done everything possible to recruit underrepresented candidates,” Seipel said in the email, adding there are currently eight searches in progress.


Executive Editor, Sarah King

Sarah King, photo by Brooke MarshSarah is a junior studying political science and philosophy of law. She is a copyeditor for INK Magazine and reporter for the Capital News Service wire. Last spring, Sarah worked as an editorial intern for Congressional Quarterly Researcher and SAGE Business Researcher in Washington, D.C. // Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

kingsa@commonwealthtimes.org

Photo Editor, Brooke Marsh

Brooke Marsh, photo by Brooke MarshBrooke is a senior pursuing a BFA in photography & film and a minor in media studies. Prior to her role as Photo Editor, Brooke was a staff photographer for the CT. Brooke’s work has been featured at a number of exhibitions and she previously interned at Candela Gallery in Richmond. Brooke has experience photographing for news, sports and entertainment. // Twitter | Facebook | Portfolio

marshba@commonwealthtimes.org

25 Comments

      • Give me a link.
        Give me real examples.
        Otherwise I don’t believe a word of it, and it’s probably something very benign and stupid.

        Another idea:
        Maybe his unwillingness to address racism is because there is no real racism. The president is already embarrassingly bending over backwards to appease your stupid critical race theory delusions.

        VCU is one of the most diverse universities in the United States. There is no real racism on campus. Nobody is oppressing you. The university isn’t systematically racist. You are chasing a racist boogie man because you want to feel like you are making a difference. We get it, you are young, the world is new and you want to make an impact.

        However, If you want to play the delusional critical race theory game you should really run the numbers and you will see that Asians are over represented, and Hispanics are the ones vastly under represented.

        The fact that you have not correctly ran the real numbers between two population variances (student vs faculty) proves that you have no idea what you are protesting. Never mind the fact that you lack any kind of passion for the actual subjects being taught. If you did the professor’s skin would not matter. If you have a hard time relating to professors because their skin color is different from yours, then maybe you are the racist one.

        • As a current African American VCUarts student your comments are very upsetting and quite frankly disgusting that it seems to bother you to this extent when this subject matter does not even affect you.

          First, If there was a “link” to an example of the racism students face every day here at VCU there probably wouldn’t be many professors here with their jobs. That should be obvious, if the racism was put online or on display for all to see this article would not have been written in the first place.

          For the examples you ask for, they are right here in the article. Malcolm is a friend of mine and has stated examples of racism he has faced. If you need more examples ask any black art students at VCU and they can give you one.

          Second:
          He has admitted to racism. Almost all involved in VCU administration have. I am actually going to a meeting with the arts dean this week to discuss it. I have also been one of many witnesses of Dr Rao admitting to the racism students face at VCU as well.

          Third:
          The numbers are:
          Black Students : Black Faculty (45.7 : 1) White Students : White Faculty (9.74 :1) Overall Students : Black Faculty (300 : 1)

          Fourth:
          “You are chasing a racist boogie man because you want to feel like you are making a difference. We get it, you are young, the world is new and you want to make an impact.”

          There is no “boogie man” racism is in the faces of black VCU students specifically the arts every single day. You’re right about one thing, I am young I just turned 21 this past summer and I do want to make an impact. That being said, when I see something that I can change because it is unjust, as a young student at a university that wants to “make it real” I WILL STAND UP for what I believe in. Going to meetings and forums and participating in things that do not have anything to do with my degree is not something myself or other students willingly want to do. I myself am exhausted from the extra demands it brings, but I will not get tired of fighting for something I believe in.

          Fifth and lastly:
          I have an IMMENSE passion for the subjects I am being taught. You do not become an art student for the money, the classes, or the work load. How dare you say that because students want to make a positive change in their university that they are not passionate.
          I pay 22,000 a year to be at this institution as does everyone else. With that being said I WILL be treated as everyone else is and I WILL DEMAND the best education that VCUarts can offer me.

          Also because you seem so knowledgable I would like to correct you, there is no such thing as reverse-racism. The oppressed cannot be racist towards their oppressor when they are seeking to be treated equally.

          • None of your points have convinced me that their is racism.

            My reactions to your important points:
            He admitted to racism? I really doubt that. I think, at most, he(and the faculty) are just pandering to the special snowflakes because they don’t know how to handle the social media bullshit the snowflakes generate.

            “The numbers are:
            Black Students : Black Faculty (45.7 : 1) White Students : White Faculty (9.74 :1) Overall Students : Black Faculty (300 : 1)”
            WRONG
            WRONG
            WRONG
            WRONG
            You realize you are doing statistics completely wrong.

            I suggest you take some statistics courses before you start complaining about under representation.

            Let me help you with the first step to being taken seriously :
            http://lmgtfy.com/?q=two+population+variance+test

            You cannot take those two ratios from two different population sizes and say your numbers are correct. That is like saying 1+2=4312. It’s just scientifically wrong.

            Just because you are standing up for what you believe in doesn’t make your beliefs any less delusional.

          • “there probably wouldn’t be many professors here with their jobs”. uh huh, isn’t part of your goal to get these evidently racist professors ousted as soon as possible? the way to do that is to openly release names, give specific instances of racism, and make those piece of shit professors endure the humiliation they deserve. if this racism you speak of was caught on video for the public to see, you bet your ass every news outlet would jump on it, and articles would be written. your line of thinking is strange, and frankly hypocritical. no one is going to believe you until clear-cut, specific details have been divulged; otherwise, you come off as petulant and childish, failing to provide a factual basis for your claims. do you know why the entire world is laughing at us and our universities?

        • He definitely did admit to racism and Rao did as well. Forgive me that I didn’t record each of them as they said it and send you a link for mindless people like you that need those things anytime someone states something.

          Nothing I say to you will make you believe there’s racism here, you see what you want to see and believe what you want to “What?”

          You can’t even write your name because you’re a coward yet you stand so firm to these beliefs you’re writing about OTHERS. You can’t tell me if I or anyone else deals with racism from your perspective. We can agree to disagree because at the end of the day this really has nothing to do with you.

          • I choose to remain anonymous because I know fascists like you will go after my lively hood simply because I called you out on your bullshit in a comment section on the internet. I refuse to give you fodder to be vicious because we disagree. You need to argue my points and not me.

            Otherwise, you will smear my name and call me a racist just like you are doing with Rao and Seipel– even though they are far from being racist and adopting racist school policies. (My proof is you calling me a coward)

            Until you come up with legitimate proof, and actually have correct statistics, nobody will ever take you seriously. That is the cold hard truth. Choose to ignore it but that’s how the real world works.

          • No one called Rao or Siepel racists I said that they admitted that racism exists here. Your disagreeing but you don’t even know what is trying to be changed or what the true problem is. We can disagree because you don’t walk around with black students every day and see what they go through of course you would be blind and possibly fall into the category of people that do have micro aggressive tendencies.

            Like I said, they have admitted to seeing and accepting that there is a problem with racism and the lack of black faculty and minority faculty at the school the PROOF your looking for can be seen by the fact that I and other students have had and will continue to have meetings about this to come up with new solutions to try to alleviate the issues we face. If I can have a meeting and they admit there is a problem they want to fix thats enough proof right there. You on the other hand can keep your opinions. As you won’t be at the meeting and again this has nothing to do with you.

          • The KKK has meetings, that doesn’t make them any more idiotic.

            Having meetings doesn’t equal to legitimate proof. It only means members are drinking the kool-aide.

            As for not walking around with black students. That comment is pretty laughable.

            VCU is soooo racist. Let me go into the race separated bathrooms and dinning hall. Oh, we can’t make friends or work with people of other races, that’s a school rule. White people have to pay less and tuition that other races. People are forbidden to be taught by professors of different races.
            …Oh wait none of that is true, because VCU isn’t racist at all.

            The fact that you want to hire someone because they have the same skin color as you, shows me that you have trouble relating to people different than you. Race doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the quality of the professors teaching skills and research. If VCU needs more African Culture/History professors, then they should hire the best person for the job. VCU needs to produce students who are the most prepared for their career field, that includes being taught by subject matter experts because they are knowledgeable not because they are black/white/green/gold/teal.

          • You are laughable because your coming from your perspective on this subject matter that again you probably will not understand because things do not happen to you.

            The examples you listed of course are not happening but again because things like that aren’t happening does not mean racism doesn’t exist here.

            That is the exact point I’m making. I have been taught by professors that do not understand things due to their background. Not the color of their skin. By diversifying our teaching faculty and diversifying the curriculum of which professors teach their students, ALL STUDENTS can have more wholistic views on the subjects they are being taught.

            If every time I have to explain the subject matter of my art to a white professor because they do not understand it due to their cultural background than they are not the best person for the job. I shouldnt have to take an African American Art History class to learn about any African American artists that should be in everyone’s curriculum.

            This conversation is over.

          • You just admitted you are racist, and people’s skin color attributes to if they can relate to other people. That is racism at it’s core. You are projecting all of your racist insecurities on the faculty.

            I watched the videos where you were in President Rao’s office and your peers complaining about the step team getting funding cut because they only want African-Americans on the team and exclude everyone else because they are a different race/culture. You cannot be inclusive and exclusive at the same time. When I was an undergrad I joined the Asian American Student Union and Latin Link. Why? Because It was inclusive and I had friends who invited me to join their meetings. By your definition I was oppressing them with cultural appropriation because I’m not from their culture. All of the bullshit you are spreading is hypocritical and segregationist.

            Then your peers whined about having to pay 600 dollars in club dues with only 6 students. Have you ever thought that maybe it’s a complete failure of your recruiting chairs (or nobody wants to join the club because you are confrontational segregationist assholes). Instead you blame the university for being racist….Yeah because that makes perfect sense.

            You are right on one thing. This conversation is pretty much over.

  1. This is pretty poor reporting. Beyond saying it’s at the art school you show us that people are upset about racism but you give no context to the story whatsoever. What specifically lead students to do this? Are there facility who students feel are actually racist? There are so many holes in this peice. These could be legitimate claims but the story makes them seem unsubstantiated.

  2. This article sucks. Inadequate reporting, as there seems to be no factual basis for these petulant accusations. Stop making an issue out of nothing.

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