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Dear MCAD Community, 

The past eight days have been exhausting and traumatic for our nation, the Twin Cities, the Whittier neighborhood, and MCAD. We are a community in pain with the bracing awareness of how our society treats Black people. Many of you have reached out since my May 28 email to understand MCAD’s broader response to the murder of George Floyd. I wholeheartedly agree that eloquent words are not enough. MCAD must play a key role in efforts in transforming our communities for the better. These efforts require an investment of time, resources, and critical acumen. This will be a long-term effort, and it’s one that I am deeply committed to. 

I want to lay out MCAD’s immediate and long-term commitments to racial equity and rebuilding our communities. I see this work as taking place in five major initiatives. These commitments involve partnerships, a great deal of listening and reflection on what needs to be changed within the MCAD ecosystem. Inevitably there will be more work to do in the future, however we need to act now.  

Comprehensive Strategy for Community Support and Recovery

Space + Facilities: MCAD will offer immediate, temporary space to be used by organizations and nonprofits that have been displaced or whose facilities have been damaged due to fire or vandalism.

Additionally-

  • If you know of any organizations in need of space, please contact facilities@mcad.edu
  • We will continue to offer temporary emergency housing for MCAD faculty, staff and students who have been impacted by recent events. Contact housing@mcad.edu for assistance.
  • The MCAD van and driver are now available for other nonprofits' transportation or moving needs. Contact facilities@mcad.edu for inquiries.
  • Civic engagement is a central part of our commitment and to that end, MCAD will be setting up voter registration on campus for students and the broader community this summer.

Network: We are activating our broader community network of students, faculty, staff and alumni to support the rebuilding and recovery efforts in our area.

Part of this work will focus on the following:

  • We are working with the Whittier Alliance to activate our volunteer network to assist residents, nonprofits, and businesses who have been most impacted. At this time they ask you to check their website on a regular basis for volunteer opportunities. 
  • MCAD is partnering with the City of Minneapolis’ Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and their Creative CityMaking (CCM) program. CCM artists are mobilizing to support communities through the traumatic events of the past week. Any members of the MCAD community who are interested in volunteering their time and skills for the CCM program should email Gulgun.Kayim@Minneapolismn.gov with your name, contact details, skills you have to contribute, and availability. 
  • We will use our social media channels to aggregate and amplify community news and requests for resources as we receive them. 
  • MCAD will be enacting a new employee policy that allows for up to two hours per week for volunteering for all full-time employees.

Co-Philanthropy

*Thank you to the many MCAD students, alumni, staff, faculty, and emeriti faculty for helping to reach the $10,000 match goal in under 24 hours! We will post an update shortly with details on total reported giving and matches made.

Leadership + Advocacy

  • MCAD will continue to use our influence and acumen to advocate for broader policy shifts that need to occur within the city and beyond in order to support diverse cultural work and communities of color. This includes continued conversations with other cultural leaders and members of the Governor’s staff as well as local policy makers. 
  • I will be creating an MCAD Community Support and Recovery Steering Group made up of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members including Kaley Brown, Executive Director of the Whittier Alliance neighborhood organization. The focus of this group will be to provide insights and recommendations for the best way for MCAD to support our community’s recovery. 

Institutional Change + Student Support:  

  • MCAD will be implementing anti-racism and anti-oppression training for students, faculty, staff, and board members to be completed by the end of the Fall 2020 semester. This has been a priority of mine since I arrived at MCAD last July and I’m looking forward to seeing how this promotes a broader culture of change within our community.
  • We will also be offering similar support to alumni and donors during the 2020/2021 academic year.
  • This spring MCAD received funding for a new initiative called the Design Leadership Institute (DLI) which will launch this Fall 2020 semester. The DLI is a mentorship program for students of color studying design to cultivate their roles as design leaders.
  • Fall of 2020 will see the launch of the Race and Design Lecture Series (which was originally scheduled for this past April). 
  • The MCAD Emergency Student Fund is available for students who have been impacted by the protests, fires, or evacuations. There is $50,000 remaining in the fund. Students who have already received funds may reapply. 
  • Student Affairs is working on bringing in an outside counselor to process the trauma of recent events. In the meantime counseling resources are available.

Many of you have asked about our relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). We have no joint policing arrangements with MPD and have no MPD officers on our Public Safety staff. We will not employ MPD officers at any events in the future. We need to see MPD enact meaningful reforms and cultural changes that meet our values and help regain the broader public's trust. With regards to MCAD’s own Department of Public Safety, we are committed to listening, learning, and making necessary changes that will contribute to a safer and more equitable MCAD community.

The work that needs to occur to create large scale change in our communities and across the country is significant and urgent, however it cannot occur overnight. It requires from MCAD both immediate emergency responses as well as long term commitments; it is both the lighting of a fire and the hewing of boards. MCAD leadership has been in constant communication with community members and organizations over the past week, and has been working tirelessly to create systems of support that will benefit our communities in meaningful ways.

Please join me in an MCAD Community Town Hall on Thursday, June 4, at 3:00 p.m. to share your thoughts and ideas about how else MCAD can be an active agent of change. You can also email your thoughts, responses, and ideas to action@mcad.edu.

I look forward to partnering with you on these efforts and I hope that you stay healthy and well during this time. 

All my best,

Sanjit 
President 

This letter was updated on July 10, 2020 in response to helpful feedback from alumni. The phrase "people of color" was changed to "Black people."