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Digital Arts New Media Program Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI)


Catalyzing Change in DANM, The Arts, and Campus-wide

Concrete Steps for Empowering Under Represented Minorities and Expanding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti Racism in the Arts and throughout the UC Santa Cruz Community. This is a plan that DANM created in collaboration with members of the Arts Division to create a balanced socio-environmental experience of all DANM students, staff, and faculty.


Whereas this particular proposal is solely from Arts, our broader vision is collaborative. Our most important collective goal, therefore, is to vastly increase Underrepresented Minority (URM) numbers at UCSC in general, and not just in DANM or the Arts Division. A well-balanced socio-environmental experience benefits the learning environment. Since its inception, there has been a paucity of Global African, Indigenous People, and other underrepresented people throughout the UCSC community and we want to contribute immediately to changing that to create a balanced and welcoming community for all. We are interested in working together and with the University, to build upon our efforts to engage URM students and expand the pipeline for students, faculty and staff of color and other underrepresented people within the program. Below is our plan for engaging in concrete, measurable and directed efforts to achieve this goal.

Step 1 - Creating a Block Incentive Funding Project:
We are proposing that the EVC and Graduate Division commit funds to help fund graduate student recruitment outreach efforts to URM populations, and fellowship funding for successfully recruited URM students for the Fall 2022 recruitment cycle. While we believe this will be effective, as well as is necessary, for the entire campus, the Arts Division would be willing to pilot the program in academic year 2021-22 (for fall 2022 admits). We propose that funds be made available through a process of application:


1. The DANM proposal should merge with the division’s extramural funding efforts in support of graduate student diversity. The submission includes a budget request that itemizes expenses such as marketing, intra-campus events, outreach presentations, faculty travel for presentations, and related staffing costs.

DANM’s Catalyzing Change & General Student Hardship Fellowship
DANM’s Catalyzing Change & General Student Hardship Fellowship is one of our Concrete Steps for Empowering Under-Represented Minorities, First-Generation Students, those Experiencing Financial Hardship, Expanding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and promoting Anti Racism in the Digital Arts and throughout the UC Santa Cruz Community. We are committed to vastly increasing any Underrepresented Minority presence in Digital Arts and New Media in general.


Our non-preferential financial aid will include aid designed to promote academic values such as diversity and financial aid will be solicited, accepted and awarded on a non-preferential basis to those who may have demonstrated potential for leadership in promoting cross-cultural understanding; those who have an outstanding record of service dedicated toward helping educationally disadvantaged students; those who bring added value to DANM culture though and expansion of our artistic/creative range of diverse perspectives, or those with a demonstrated academic interest in topics such as race, gender, and multiculturalism as they intersect with traditional and new innovations across academic fields.

Since its inception, there has been a paucity of Global African, Indigenous People, and other underrepresented people throughout the UCSC community and we want to contribute immediately to change that. We are interested in working together and with the University, in collaboration with national businesses who are in resonance with our aspirations, and with the broader global population to build upon DEI efforts to engage URM students and expand the pipeline for students, faculty, and staff of color who will fulfill this mission. In national business, the state of racial and ethnic representation in tech has become a huge topic of concern.

“Broadly speaking, blacks and Hispanics have made genuine progress in penetrating the nation’s tech sector. Blacks, for example, have increased their presence in several important tech occupations, such as computer programming and operations research. Likewise, Hispanics have increased their representation in the overall C&M occupational group, moving from 5.5 percent of workers in the sector in 2002 to 6.8 percent of workers in 2016.” [1]

[1] its-time-to-change-the-equation/


DANM believes that establishing Block incentive funds program for URM grad admissions is a clear first step. Our principal faculty and staff will develop essential recruitment practices and processes that support DANM's success in actively identifying and recruiting URM DANM MFA students and working to connect with business efforts such as United We Stand: WTIA Launches Coalition to Dismantle Racism in the Tech Industry. [2]

Estimated pilot budget 1:

  • Fellowships: $360,000 (+ tuition and fees) for 12 one-year fellowships @$30,000 (+ tuition and fees) spread potentially across all Arts Division graduate programs.
  • Outreach / Recruitment: $42,000
  • Estimated pilot budget 2:
    • DANM MFA Graduate Fellowships: $360,000 (= tuition and fees) for 2 one- year fellowships @$30,000 (+tuition and fees) annually for 6 years
  • Interdisciplinary DANM Graduate Fellowships: $360,000 (= tuition and fees)

For 12 one-year fellowships @$30,000 (+tuition and fees) spread potentially across all Arts Division graduate programs.

  • Outreach / Recruitment Funds: $84,000

2. The division’s plan will only be accepted and funded after EVC and/or Graduate Division review, making students eligible for the DEI fellowship (given cost of living in SC, it should be at a level that makes it possible to live in Santa Cruz ). The division’s grad programs in conjunction with the Graduate Division will manage the fellowships for Underrepresented Minority (URM) applicants so that the division's grad programs can increase their offers.

Since there may not be an existing fellowship that could be used in DANM, that is available to all types of graduate degrees, perhaps creation of a new fellowship type would be required. Alternatively block funds could be granted, and processed as Department Fellowships.

Current UCSC Enrollment by Race & Ethnicity

The enrolled student population at University of California-Santa Cruz is 32% White, 24.8% Hispanic or Latino, 20.5% Asian, 7.86% Two or More Races, 1.71% Black or African American, 0.0975% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, and 0.0872% American Indian or Alaska Native.


  1. White
  2. Hispanic or Latino
  3. Asian

The enrolled student population at University of California-Santa Cruz is 32% White, 24.8% Hispanic or Latino, 20.5% Asian, 7.86% Two or More Races, 1.71% Black or African American, 0.0975% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, and 0.0872% American Indian or Alaska Native. This includes both full-time and part-time students as well as graduate and undergraduates. By comparison, enrollment for all Doctoral Universities is 50.3% White, 14.3% Hispanic or Latino, and 9.48% Black or African American. Any student who is studying in the United States on a temporary basis is categorized as a "Non- Resident Alien", and the share of those students are shown in the chart below. Additionally, 372 students (1.91%) did not report their race.


Step 2 - Collaborating with Historical Black Colleges and Universities:

The next step involves working with Holly Unruh, Executive Director of the Arts Research Institute and divisional research development director, and the UC-HBCU grant program to assure growth and sustainability with non-resident students. The HBCU program would allow us to build relationships with arts program(s) across the country and facilitate student exchanges. We believe that this multi-pronged approach will expand our ability to offer a welcoming environment to BIPOC students, by creating structures of support for them once they are here. The CPEVC could consider providing a match for California-based students as a match for HBCU-program student support in order to build an in-state pipeline. We will continue to consult with Holly to gather information on other extramural grant programs that could potentially cross pollinate with this program and its objectives (e.g. mentorship).

Step 3 - Partnering with Debra Watkins’s California Pipeline Programs:

In concert with this effort, we want to engage highly successful "pipeline programs” to reach out to work with prospective students long before they are at the grad school application stage. Making this level of contact with targeted high school (and even some middle school) students could launch a productive and meaningful connection at UCSC for the establishment and perpetuation of an established evolving pipeline program. We also need support staffing funds for conferences, which will be the catalyst for making that extremely important component of this process work. 

Step 4 - Forming Essential UCSC Connections & Pathways:

Another opportunity for creating these essential connections is to collaborate with Aaron Jones, ( the interim Educational Opportunity Programs director. As founder of the Black Academy (a six-day orientation program for African Black Caribbean students to help them find their paths through college) Aaron is an expert in both the common barriers and workable solutions for increasing URM engagement & retention. As we envision our pipelines we must first investigate what his unit is already doing successfully.

Step 5 - Summer Recruitment Plans, New Areas of Research Opportunities and Other Partnering Considerations:

We realize that pipeline programs that reach out to work with the students we want to see come here and succeed begin long before they are at the grad school application stage.

“Students need to know that this is a place for them and that only happens if we reach out and bring them here early on (think: summer fellowships of some kind). They also need to know that there are faculty here who are working on things that are relevant to them, that this is a welcoming campus, and that when they get here they are going to be able to afford to stay.” - Holly Unruh

We believe in creating opportunities for summer fellowships that are simple to implement and also address areas of professor’s personal research. To facilitate this, we would create an open call from the Arts faculty asking what kinds of summer fellowships faculty would be willing to mentor if such funding opportunities were forthcoming. The budget would include faculty and staff time (or GSR), student stipend, and room and board recharge (estimated $60,000 - $80,000). Below are 3 examples of such fellowship opportunities:

  • Robin Hunicke can work with creatives who want to make games & interactive experiences (leveraging free tools like those available in Roblox), creating a presence in these systems for work that interrogates issues of representation, play and creative authorship. She can also work to support internships at Funomena, which embed people on projects across a variety of commercial platforms & applications, exposing them to an alternative working model of game creation where the majority of creators identify as coming from an underrepresented group. This work would build upon the Creative Entrepreneurship internship program she has supported in the past, via a collaboration with the Arts Division.
  • Rick Prelinger suggested that one area of BIPOC excellence he would love to recognize and find ways to serve on our campus is the emerging community archives movement. So-called “memory workers” intersect many boundaries: obviously digital media, but also urban studies, agroecology, gaming, moving image and media studies, history, anthropology/ethnography, the Borderlands, Indigenous studies, etc. The community archives movement is largely led by BIPOC archivists and self-trained people and is an amazing venue for collaboration between grassroots individuals, organizations and academia. There are many serious theorists and thinkers in this community who are doing peer-reviewed work as well. The point would be to create a pipeline for memory workers, especially those with strong community identification.
  • Karlton Hester would be very interested in co-directing a new DANM Research Lab that is an interdisciplinary/transcultural production ensemble that could partner with various supporting industry components (music, games, film, dance, digital arts, etc.) to create innovative performativity work through a variety of rotating collaborative teams. Such ensembles could be composed of undergraduate musicians, game makers, actors, dancers, MFA digital students, doctoral composers, graduate filmmakers, etc. Finished creative projects would be forward facing products for both the campus and to the world to benefit.

Step 6 - Engaging with the wider Conference Community

BSCU's annual conference, this year at UCSC in March 2023, was something the campus as a whole got behind. The BSCU Conference was open to all UCSC students, staff, and faculty, in assorted ways, irrespective of race or gender. In the future, DANM looks forward to supporting other programs related to ethnic studies, women in digital arts, events highlighting the contributions of scholars of color, and developing resource guides directed to the needs of individuals from a particular race or gender and retention efforts that address the barriers faced by women or minorities in higher education. The benefits of all programs are available on a non-selective basis regardless of their race or gender where all involved have access to the same benefits.  

There are a lot of partners across campus who were brought in from the AARCC, American Indian Research Center, to a diverse spectrum of student clubs, to EOP and Trio programs, especially the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP), academic programs such as Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.


Likewise, the 2021-2022 DANM Afrofuturism Festival included a diverse spectrum of participants and audiences irrespective of race or gender. DANM’s characteristic disposition remains consistent in maintaining socio-environmental experiences where individuals or groups of individuals in any situation should not be treated less favorably simply because of a particular characteristic such as their sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

We can also target programs such as the California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education, engaging deeply with programs like CSUMB's UROC that support diverse undergraduates interested in pursuing graduate programs. Once these connections are established, we can expand the model to other colleges and universities that both have arts programs and that serve a diverse student population. Working to hire and support a more diverse faculty is also key - even if we start with visiting or post-doc appointments. We must support those faculty to do the additional mentoring work we can expect they'll be called on to do, which is a critical part of this important intervention. This could be achieved by making course relief available to faculty who provide additional mentoring and by funding visiting artist programs (estimated budget for 6 visiting professors for one quarter each $170,000 (+ benefits) and 6 mentors $54,000).

Longer term, we can look to regional colleges and even community colleges that serve areas with a high African American, Indigenous, and other URM populations. A quick google search turns up campuses like Los Angeles Southwest College - which has a student population that is 57% black. Engaging in these wider contexts assures that we are reaching students where they make critical decisions about how/when/why to pursue or leave educational pathways.

Step 7 - Providing Consistent, Recurring Financial Support

Our recruitment packages (even when paired with the central campus fellowships) are often not enough to entice the most well qualified diverse applicants to campus. As we address recruitment, we must also take a hard look at what more we can offer (financially and otherwise) that would make us a more competitive choice for those students.

The students we do recruit are faced with a predominantly white campus, especially at the grad level, which is really alienating -- and the demographics haven't changed much over the last 20 years. It is also not feasible financially for students due to the high cost of living in the area. But doubly so for those with spouses and/or families.

A quick answer to this is centrally funded or donor-driven fellowships -- which also give students time away from being a TA or GSR to focus on their own work and/or support them over the summer. We can also develop co-curricular programs that let students be the drivers of institutional change. For example, a diversity in the arts reading series, which is really intended as a way to let students lead and explore difficult conversations about race, equity, and inclusion in the arts with other members of the divisional community.


The time for concrete actions is now. We are at an inflection point where it is critical to take the initiative to change the ratios on our campus - at faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate levels. While UCSC is the second most diverse faculty in the entire UC, there remains an embarrassing paucity of Global-African and Indigenous People presence amongst student, staff, and faculty, so we have a long way to go before we can truly consider our campus & programs truly diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist. We propose these 7 steps in order to clearly outline our intentions, request support, and engage with the wider UC on initiatives that move us from intention to action, past targets to achievements, and most importantly - to excellence.

Sincerely – Director Karlton Hester,  Stephanie Moore, Bennett Williamson, Holly Unruh, Robin Hunick, Rick Prelinger