VMA Equity and Cultural Climate Committee Update

By: Cristina Kotz Cornejo, Professor and Associate Chair of VMA / Kermel Yohannes ’19, VMA POWER Senator


Following the first meeting of the VMA Equity and Cultural Climate Committee on March 22, I sat down with Professor and Associate Chair of the VMA Department Cristina Kotz Cornejo in order to discuss her thoughts and overall reception of the initial meeting.

She has written the following update:

“It’s been a long time coming” is how some of us felt as the VMA Equity and Cultural Climate Committee (EC3) convened for the first time on March 22, 2018. Sam Cooke’s lyrics from one of his most important songs, “A Change is Gonna Come,” released a year to the day after I was born, are unfortunately still painfully relevant today on College campuses and across the nation as our society struggles to deal with the inequities still entrenched in our institutions and in the psyches of many Americans.

This first meeting with ten faculty and three students in attendance set out to define the process for discussing ideas, for proposing changes and for dealing with the difficult issues within the Department of Visual and Media Arts. I led the first meeting and as the only tenured, queer, Latina faculty in the department, I felt it my responsibility to set the tone for the group – that we will be dealing with topics and issues people have traditionally shied away from. I don’t want this group to be solely about changing policy in the department and yes, that is important, but If we want to see real, genuine change then we need to address the culture and to address the culture we need to look at ourselves and not skirt around the issues that are impacting people’s lives. Facing these issues head on is not going to be comfortable but it’s the only way where real “change is gonna come.”

Our next meeting before the end of the semester will take place on April 26th at 2pm, where more updates will come.

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