Dear Sam Fox School Community,
Like many of you, I find myself outraged by the ongoing racial violence across our country. The horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis—as well as so many other injustices, including the glaring health and economic disparities for communities of color that have been further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic—are truly unacceptable.
I recognize the tremendous pain and anger felt by members of our community. These injustices are immediate and acute; they affect family, friends, and beloved community members among us. As a School, we are committed to fostering an environment built on a foundation of equity and respect, and I most emphatically condemn all acts of hate, aggression, or disrespect toward any racial group.
As architects, artists, and designers, we have the power to bring people together, to create visual works that respond to the challenges of our time and incite change. Now more than ever, it is necessary to design cities, spaces, and policies that not only promote equity, but that actively deconstruct segregation and systems of oppression.
Statements are inadequate. This is a time for action—and we all have both the power and responsibility to step forward. Part of the mission of the Sam Fox School is to “create a more just, sustainable, humane, and beautiful world.” We must examine—at both an individual and a School level—the ways we have failed to address these systemic issues, the ways we can do better, and the ways we can put these reflections into action.
A first step for all people in positions of power and privilege is to educate themselves. Last year, the Sam Fox School began a series of faculty workshops, organized by our Fairness & Diversity Committee, interrogating where power lies between students and faculty, particularly acknowledging the historic and systemic differences in power by identity. We plan to continue these types of in-depth opportunities for education and critical reflection going forward for faculty, staff, and students. I’m also charging our Office for Socially Engaged Practice with providing additional resources over the next academic year to support faculty, staff, and students in grappling with these issues.
I encourage each of you to do as I am doing and seek to learn more and position yourself and your understanding of historic injustice and oppression. For example, the Brown School, in cooperation with the Clark-Fox Policy Institute, has organized a series designed to bring greater awareness to the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on communities of color. Part 1 and Part 2 are available for viewing online; registration is open for Part 3, COVID-19 and Race: Political Action and Power in the Face of Adversity, on June 11 at 10 a.m. CT.
Finally, I know that many members of our community are currently dealing with increased levels of stress and anxiety. If you need help, the University offers resources to support your mental health and well-being. Students can contact the Habif Health and Wellness Center, and faculty and staff can access employee wellness resources.
I encourage you to reach out to me with your thoughts, your concerns, and your ideas for how we can act on our School’s commitment to justice and racial equity.
Ralph J. Nagel Dean, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts
Director, College of Art and Graduate School of Art
Jane Reuter Hitzeman and Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr. Professor of Art
Director, College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
Sam and Marilyn Fox Professor