A Public Commitment

In recent months, the Covid-19 pandemic has intensified long entrenched racial inequities thrown into the high relief by the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, to name but a few of the lives lost to ongoing state-sanctioned violence against Black Americans. The Black Lives Matter movement has mobilized a call to action that is long overdue. As faculty, we stand with our students and Black Lives Matter in their urgent and public demand for a different future, one that holds white supremacy accountable for the systemic violence rooted in the social fabric of this country.

As faculty within a public university system, we are committed to quality education accessible to all members of society. Yet, such dedication alone doesn’t guard against re-inscribing—consciously or unconsciously—oppressions embedded within the institution and American society at large. We are committed to examining and addressing the systemic inequities that exist in our classrooms and the department. We share with the students the need for a comprehensive anti-racist pedagogy. Inspired by the momentum for change, we will work with students and administrators to assess and transform our program.

The Hunter MFA Studio Art Faculty and Staff stands with the movement to Defund the Police. We see this as an opportunity to re-envision the notion of public safety and return critical funding to public education, community infrastructure, and social services. Current budget cuts and preemptive austerity measures proposed by the CUNY administration represent an economic injustice that cannot be separated from the systemic conditions of white supremacy. We want to reclaim CUNY’s radical foundational principles, including open admissions and free tuition, that demonstrate a commitment to education for all.

We, the faculty and staff of the Hunter MFA Program in Studio Art, commit to:

  • Create listening sessions for faculty and students that center the voices of Black and Indigenous Peoples, and People of Color.
  • Work alongside students to build dedicated courses and a comprehensive language of critique that are anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-ableist and LGBTQIA+ inclusive.
  • Develop channels for faculty and student accountability.
  • Create a Mission Statement together with students that reflects the values and aspirations of the Hunter MFA Program.
  • Maintain pressure on CUNY administrators and elected officials to fund a more culturally inclusive public education, including full-time faculty lines and scholarship support specifically dedicated to Black and Indigenous Peoples, and People of Color.
  • Organize over the long-term to reclaim CUNY’s foundational principle of free tuition.

In Solidarity,
The Faculty and Staff of the Hunter MFA Program in Studio Art