Statement on Anti-Racism
Racism is a force of oppression that uses economic, political, and social systems – amongst others – to actively limit or destroy opportunities for people of color. The compelling issues and national conversation raised by the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 prompted the Illinois School of Architecture to renew its commitment to working towards ending racism in all its forms within our institution. Institutionalized racism continues to adversely affect US and international students, faculty, staff, and guests, especially those who are Black, Asian, Latinx, Multiracial, Indigenous, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
The School of Architecture acknowledges that racism exists in numerous ways, resulting in microaggressions in the classrooms, studios, reviews, and other settings. It negatively affects how knowledge is generated, our course content, our lecture series choices, and more. The School recognizes that while its students, faculty, and staff may be at different stages in unlearning racism, it is imperative that the School and its community actively works toward continually addressing racism within its halls.
While the School has made efforts in the past to address these issues, following the murder of George Floyd, in the summer of 2020 students, faculty, and staff initiated the Justice and Equity taskforce as a way to process the injustices taking place both nationally and in the School. As a result, our students presented the faculty with a list of goals and demands related to racial justice in the School of Architecture. Since that time, the School formalized our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee and our community members have worked together to move forward with this work. Since 2020, the School has achieved several of these goals, including:
- Including more Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) speakers in the School’s annual lecture series and in mid-semester and final reviews
- Having more BIPOC firm representatives meet with our students at the Career Fair
- Connecting to Black-majority architecture programs in South Africa
- Participating in the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Conference
- Hiring visiting faculty of color for graduate curricula
- Inviting BIPOC scholars as distinguished professors
- Appointing a Native American Architect as a Plym Professor in Fall 2022
- Recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
- Diversifying history course content to include more BIPOC architects and precedent environments
This work is not done. The School’s DEI Committee advocates for the following in the coming years:
- Attracting and retaining Black designers and scholars for tenure-stream positions
- Offering undergraduate and more graduate courses taught by Black scholars and focusing on BIPOC issues
- Sponsoring cultural competency workshops/seminars for faculty to dispel stereotypes, combat microaggressions, examine race relations in America, and explain how explicit and implicit racism affects students of every minority background
- Raising awareness of opportunities for BIPOC students and providing more instructional support for software and STEM preparation
- Including more designers and landscape architects from the entire African Diaspora (African-American, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Asian, and African) in studio precedents and architectural history and theory core courses
- Funding scholarships specifically for international students of color and for domestic students of color both for study on campus and abroad by seeking donors from our School alumni community and other sources
- Instituting a regular School presence at the NOMA Conference, such as through a credit-bearing course for the NOMA competition, and creating closer links to INOMA
- Providing funding for at least two officers (such as the President and Vice President) of our NOMAS chapter to attend the national NOMA Conference in person
- Launching study abroad programs in majority BIPOC locations, including Black neighborhoods/cities in Latin America, the Caribbean, and African cities as alternatives to the Barcelona Program.
- Creating a mentoring peer-program for Black and other students of color that would foster community by pairing first-year undergraduates with upper-classmen and graduate students
- Making the School more accessible to BIPOC students from local secondary schools without the resources to teach architectural studies through outreach programs
- Reviewing our methods of design reviews to make them more supportive for all and especially for BIPOC students.
Lastly, the School commits to annual self-assessments of its progress in actively working to counter racism. It will update this statement each year on the holiday celebrating the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The initial version of this document resulted from several collaborative meetings of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee of the School of Architecture in 2020, which included:
- La Tanya Cobb, Associate Director of Student Services
- Kathryn Anthony, Professor
- Carl Lewis, Teaching Assistant Professor
- Christina Bollo, Assistant Professor
- Nolan Theodore, Academic Advisor
- Jasmine “Coco” House, M.Arch Student
- Isabelle Ndoumy-Kouakou, BSAS Student
It has been revised through discussions among the members of the 2022-23 DEI Committee, including:
- La Tanya Cobb, Associate Director of Student Services
- Kathryn Anthony, Professor
- Mark Taylor, Associate Professor
- Heather Grossman, Teaching Assistant Professor
- Brit Meeker, Academic Advisor
- Pankti Pasad, M.Arch Student
- Airyanna Eason, BSAS Student
Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Respect
In support of this belief, the school’s policies and programs promote diversity and social equity, taking an active stance on issues of justice and the built environment. We are committed to a departmental culture in which all students, staff, and faculty members—regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, gender, age, physical ability, or sexual orientation—are able to learn, teach, and work to their fullest potential. Through its inclusive culture, the Illinois School of Architecture seeks to increase diversity within the profession.
Through teaching, research, public engagement activities, and ongoing support for diverse groups of students and alumni, the School demonstrates its commitment to design excellence based in diversity and social equity.
In studio classes, lectures, and seminars, students are introduced to the traditions and architectural needs of diverse populations. Design studios emphasize the specific needs and expectations of a broad range of specific user groups. Community engaged studios allow students to interact directly with residents of economically distressed communities and to grapple with the complex problems of society. The school’s required courses incorporate diverse social and cultural perspectives, while elective courses focus on the needs of people in the environment, social justice and equity among minority populations, gender and race in contemporary architecture and in the profession. Graduate students are encouraged to take elective courses across campus, further exploring the needs of special populations.
Our international exchange opportunities and global studios enable students to gain a richer perspective on non-US cultures, and promote global conversations about architecture and its place in various societies around the world.
Faculty members are actively involved in research emphasizing issues of diversity, community building, and non-western architectural traditions. They conduct work both within and outside the United States that breaks new ground in architectural scholarship focused on the relationship between people and the physical, social, political, and economic dimensions of the environment. We invite you to explore faculty research agendas at our website’s faculty page and to contact faculty whose interests in diversity and social equity align with yours.
Through community engaged coursework, Action Research Illinois (ARI), and the Building Research Council (BRC), the school’s students and faculty actively work with challenged communities, reinvigorate aging housing stock, and assist traditionally underserved populations. ARI addresses immediate and long-term needs of distressed neighborhoods in East Central Illinois communities by engaging volunteers to apply both labor and creativity. Currently the BRC, in partnership with State of Illinois Energy Office, is engaged in an applied research demonstration addressing energy innovation for small and medium-sized Public Housing Authorities (PHA) though a grant from HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs.
Organizations and Support Programs
- The Illinois School of Architecture supports a strong local chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS), which is open to students from all backgrounds
- The Women in Architecture (WIA) organization provides opportunities for students to offer mutual support and meet with successful female academics and professionals in the design fields
- Global Architecture Brigades (GAB) designs and constructs socially responsible and sustainable architecture solutions in developing nations
- The University of Illinois’ Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) assists the school and other campus programs in sustaining a welcoming and supportive learning environment for undergraduate minority students
- The Graduate College Educational Equity Programs Office provides advice to graduate students interested in our graduate programs and also participates in outreach activities
The Graduate College operates two summer programs, the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) and the Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute (SPI) as well as McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. These programs invite minority students to campus and introduce them to university life, and to career opportunities in higher education.
Day-to-Day Culture and Environment
The School of Architecture fosters an academic culture that emphasizes: respect, sharing, engagement, innovation, communication, and academic excellence among all members of our community.
The Illinois School of Architecture should be a safe, comfortable, and efficient place to work. To achieve this standard, we maintain the following principles:
Respect for Equipment
Our equipment will work and be up-to-date, to the best of the school’s ability. Students, faculty, and other users should be taught how to properly use resources/equipment and must report damage as it happens.
The building environment should provide a clean and healthy working venue. Students are responsible for maintaining their own environment. Emphasis shall be placed on environmental sustainability both inside and outside of the studio. Students are encouraged to explore and communicate architectural expressions in an academic environment, including the school’s facilities, atrium and studio spaces, in a manner that does not pose any threat, disrespect or ulterior motive, which may undermine the integrity of school community.
The school will strive to provide security for all members of the school community. The community will respect the property of others, including personal property within shared spaces. In order to maintain property and personal safety, members of the school community are requested to secure buildings and studios. Students are encouraged to travel in groups when they leave campus buildings after dark.
The Illinois School of Architecture fosters a community based upon mutual respect, which promotes interaction and productivity among students, faculty, and staff. This community should be engaged, inquisitive, and supportive. We must practice tolerance of varied ideas, collegially discuss different perspectives and respect diverse perspectives and persons.
Students should be informed of, and where possible involved in, the administrative decision-making processes that may affect quality of academic experiences. These include but are not limited to curriculum changes, new school policies, leadership changes and new faculty hires.
Implementation and Maintenance
This policy will be distributed to all members of the Illinois School of Architecture community each year through its placement on the school website, posting in visible locations in all school facilities and by physical distribution and discussion at appropriate all-school venues. Faculty should reference this policy as appropriate in course syllabi and discussions.
This policy is a living document to be changed and updated as needed. Periodically, a task force should be created that ensures representation from all student levels and faculty.
This policy was originated in 2010 by a student-faculty task force and revised in 2014.