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Film & Digital Media Department Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

Prepared by faculty members in the Department of Film + Digital Media Managed and coordinated by the F+DM Equity Council


UC Santa Cruz is located on the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of Indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma as a result of both Spanish and American colonization.

As a settler-colonial institution, we recognize the resilience and survival of Native inhabitants and BIPOC people worldwide. We affirm that we have much to learn from their experiences and the survival strategies and, ultimately, commit to reparative justice, reparations, and return of land stolen from Indigenous communities in California and throughout the Americas. We work to acknowledge, address and remove obstacles to Native participation and engagement in our institution of higher learning. We are working towards creating a safe and reparative space for all people and communities who have not been and are not now fully represented in our department, our curriculum, and our ways of working.


This plan was prepared by a working group consisting of Profs. John Jota Leaños, Yiman Wang and Rick Prelinger. In the process of preparing this outline, we consulted with faculty members in three meetings, conducted preliminary outside research, and referred to notes taken as a part of committee meetings and individual listenings and interviews. The plan was reviewed by our department's Equity Council and department members.

Our Equity Council, currently consisting of Profs. Andrews, Leaños, Wang, and Prelinger (membership to evolve in Spring and Fall 2022) will be responsible for steering, delegating, coordinating, tracking progress, and maintaining the accountability of our department's DEI work. Members of the Council will coordinate activities with other faculty members, other campus units, and outside consultants and resources. In Spring 2022, the Council will also move toward greater inclusivity, reaching out to represent different department communities: staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and Lecturers. This plan will be the guiding document as the Council works to define its scope of work and agenda. When finalized, F+DM will publish it on our department website.


Awareness and critical consciousness around process and honest and timely assessment are both essential to F+DM's DEI work. We cannot yet claim that we have fully considered questions of process and assessment or clearly defined a deliverable for every project we propose, but we realize these must be a part of each project that we undertake as part of this plan.

The Equity Council will be responsible for assessing progress toward the goals described in this plan. Means of assessment will vary but could include informal reporting, organized status meetings, and a grid or other means of tracking progress and deliverables. Publishing information on our progress would be desirable.

For now, this plan will exist in a partial vacuum unless it is integrated with the circumstances of our lives. We work, and many of us live in a community that welcomes us differently depending on our identities, income, age, ability, mobility and family status. The profound inequalities in California, the crises of the settler-colonial project and the daily effects of climate change render it impossible to do equity work in a vacuum. DEI concerns have been at the center of some of our lives, but not all. Our lived experiences will never be the same. As a community, we lack collective shared experience in addressing issues of racist, sexist, gender-based and ableist bias and aggression. Internal and external resistance to equity work is an inevitable part of this process. Implementing this plan will not be easy, and is likely to bring our community into places it has never been but must go.


Short-term priorities (Spring and Summer 2022)

Build an inclusive Equity Council. Identify and recruit representatives from staff, Lecturers, undergraduate and graduate students to join Equity Council. (Council to reach out and invite).

Address the Equity Council's role, reporting, and member compensation. As a steering and coordination body, the Council cannot itself do "all the DEI work." It needs to delegate much of this work and negotiate with other faculty members, as well as outside resources, consultants and facilitators. Successful delegation will require establishing stable lines of communication with colleagues, staff, students, the Division, other campus units such as CITL, ODEI, and BIPOC faculty networks and resource centers. How will the Council report to the department? This question becomes more complex as difficult matters surface, and will require thought and perhaps external facilitation. How should the Council seek and manage the involvement of students in the DEI process? We will have to reach out and enlist participation without controlling, maintain a safe and respectful process, and ensure that time and resources exist to address needs, issues, and feelings that arise out of participation. How should service on the Equity Council be compensated? Although contributions to “diversity” work on campus are considered part of evaluation for faculty advancement and promotion, diversity and equity work is not a major evaluation pillar (i.e. research, teaching, and service). This current system by which faculty service is recognized is inadequate to adequately compensate faculty (especially BIPOC faculty) for the extent and difficulty of this work. (Council, in coordination with the Department and Division).

Resource analysis. Build a list of needed resources to accomplish our goals, including those needed and those already in place. Specify the timeframe for which those resources are in place (one quarter, one year, permanent, etc./course relief, staff positions, staff hours, etc.) (Council working with Department and Staff).

Identify outside resources and apply for funding. Can the Arts Division and FDM department seek grants and/or donations to support focused equity work? Who are our allies in this process, and who can we learn from? Facilitators can help with complex and difficult discussions.

Consultants can assist our efforts to link the culture and history of our department with a forward vision of a department representing and responsive to the culture, history, and aspirations of California's communities. Other departments, academic units, and other campus groups are working on the same issues and can provide vision and sometimes resources, but we must first investigate the field and see what is already being/has been done. Encourage department community members (including students) to apply for available Division and campus funding. (Council to seek information and guidance from campus groups and others).

Develop a plan for departmental self-education, study, and discussion, including an understanding of terms. What do we mean by such terms as "diversity," "decolonization," "equity," "antiracism," "structural change," "reparation and repair," and others? What can we learn from the considerable research that's been done on promoting equity, inclusion, and change in academia? Recognizing that a term is a commitment, we look towards a discursive shift in the terms we employ, such as "underrepresented communities," "BIPOC," "the global majority," etc. The Council will develop a glossary to articulate what "diversity, equity, and inclusion" mean to us as a department and how these terms relate to teaching, creative work, mentorship, the conduct of everyday business, and so on. We are concerned about defining terms in ways that are not corrupted or decentered by institutional or neoliberal thinking, avoiding linguistic appropriation by white settlers for their own advantage, and finding a language to speak openly and inclusively about specific racialized communities. Throughout this process, we aspire to involve marginalized communities in identifying issues, creating meaningful and actionable definitions, and identifying effective ways to accomplish structural change. We will also circulate bibliographies with suggested readings on antiracism, bias, and reparative strategies. (Council, in discussion with outside resources, community members, and CITL).

Develop a communications plan. How will Council communicate with and update the department community? How will Council and others doing DEI work listen to the community? (See Begin a listening process, below). Plan for Council to report to the department on DEI developments at all faculty meetings. (Council)

Address issues affecting academic student employees (ASEs). We cannot restrict our equity work to the faculty level. Rethink TA and GSR workload to enhance equity across the board. Work with ASEs from underrepresented groups to identify equity issues they face. (Department)

Begin a listening process. Listening is at the core of our department's equity work and will occur through different but simultaneous channels. BIPOC, other underrepresented faculty, and staff often remain silent when opinions are solicited at a departmental level because it is unclear what benefit they can derive from speaking up, and because of the risks in doing so. When BIPOC faculty do speak up to illuminate structural inequities, these faculty are often marginalized, not listened to, and/or experience microaggressions. In FDM, these microaggressions appear in the promotion and tenure process where BIPOC faculty are promoted and compensated at a lower level than our white colleagues. Listening may therefore require a variety of modes and a diversity of listeners in order to be productive.

Create public and private listening sessions: a series of listening/discussion/ visioning sessions at which everyone is welcome, probably moderated or facilitated by outside resource people, and confidential one-on-one sessions with a selection of people representing each sector. Provide a confidential route for people to air grievances via writing (anonymously, if decided). Listen to BIPOC and other marginalized and disadvantaged students and address their needs and concerns. Hold roundhouse discussions and dialogues with BIPOC and other marginalized and disadvantaged students to create policies and action items addressing their educational needs and support. Hold a town hall meeting for everyone in every sector of the department at the start of each academic year, at mid-year, and at year's end. (Department, working with Council and outside resource people and facilitators).

Build a hospitable environment. What drives faculty retention and inequity? Target areas of inhospitality and difficulty and seek resources to support BIPOC, underrepresented faculty, and department staff. Put in place measures to create and maintain a welcoming and hospitable environment for our new hire (Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty & Decolonization) and other BIPOC and underrepresented faculty who may join us in the future. Mentor new community members from the beginning of their association with F+DM. Address inequities in knowledge and sophistication regarding the workings of the University's personnel system and merit and promotion procedures and demystify pathways to promotion and advancement. Build and maintain ties with networks representing the interests of faculty of color, faculty living with disabilities, and women; with campus units such as ODEI, and campus centers focused on the wellbeing and empowerment of underrepresented students. (Department in collaboration with campus units).

Mentorship. Ensure every faculty member, Lecturer and ASE have a mentor (per our department mentorship plan). Develop a plan for equity-focused mentorship to benefit graduate and undergraduate students. Train F+DM faculty in racial, ethnic, class, and gender equity and bias. Mentor new community members from the beginning of their association with F+DM. Work individually with faculty, especially BIPOC and junior faculty, to distribute information regarding the workings of the University's personnel system and merit and promotion procedures and demystify pathways to promotion and advancement.

(Department, working with Council).

Medium-term priorities (Fall 2022-Summer 2023)

Articulate a shared vision for the department. What values do we share as a community? How might we define our aspirational values? How do we see F+DM in three, five, ten years, and as we work towards equity and inclusion? How will we and our work represent and reflect our communities, our state, and the world? What can we do to build DEI into the ecosystem of media production, theory, and criticism? What do we mean by "structural change?" Where are the structures that we hope to change located? What can we do as a department? How do we advocate for change in areas not within our purview? What can we learn from others who have done deep work in this area? Articulate a commitment to serving and centering BIPOC student education and working to ensure diverse and representational graduate programs. Begin a shared reading and discussion process, guided by a structured bibliography on antiracism and bias. (Department as a whole, guided by Council and possibly outside consultants).

Develop an anti-racist/anti-discrimination policy. Informed by and informing our DEI plan, a policy should incorporate concrete plans to work against white supremacy, systemic racism, gender bias, etc. in F+DM admissions, curriculum, hiring, personnel review, promotion, and general departmental business. What reparative work is needed and how should F+DM build redress and reparation into its future work? Use resources such as the bibliographies on faculty equity prepared by the Advancing Faculty Equity committee.

Engage in antiracist workshops (example: Undoing Racism, facilitated by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond). Develop a speaker series with artists, mediamakers, writers, people who bring experience from other institutions. (Council leads, assisted by facilitators and experienced people elsewhere on campus).

Restorative justice. Move toward a process of daylighting, recognizing, and remediating past and ongoing wrongs: personnel process, microaggressions, bullying, inequitable burdens (especially service), and ways of conducting routine business. What would constitute redress? (Council, working with department and outside consultants).

Address inequities in the personnel review process. Establish an F+DM Equity Committee tasked with overseeing P&T actions (perhaps as part of, or along with our CAPlet) and develop procedures for measuring, evaluating, compensating, and redressing equity (“diversity” with teeth). Investigate merit, pay, and promotion inequities with a focus on those affecting BIPOC scholars. Source data on the history of faculty appeals to personnel actions and career equity reviews if any. How do our existing personnel review and personnel action procedures support entrenched biases through valuations placed on prestigious academic publishing, ranking presentation venues, evaluating research, and other artistic, research, and community activities? How can we properly value and recognize essential service work, mentorship of underrepresented students, and undervalued maintenance and care work?

Address bias in student evaluations, and develop fairer and more accurate means of evaluating the teaching process. Establish principles for appropriate levels of service for emergent and BIPOC faculty. Ensure that BIPOC faculty and others from underrepresented backgrounds, as well as junior and emerging faculty and others all, receive proper mentorship. Evaluate and establish how the department factors student evaluations into personnel actions in an equitable manner. Moving towards this goal inevitably points us towards critically evaluating the traditional triad of research, teaching, and service, and considering a more expansive sense of possible pathways that faculty might follow. (Council, in consultation with Faculty Equity Advocates, mentors, APO, the Chair, and department).

History lessons. Seeing the history of our department and the Arts Division as part of the history of the greater campus community, bioregion, and Indigenous nation, we will review the history of efforts (individual, collective and institutional) towards equity and inclusion, recognizing positive work and pointing to gaps. We hope that a richer sense of these histories will enable critical self-reflection and draw us closer to the communities to which we belong and to which we are/should be responsive. What historical inequities speak through us? And how does our campus's identity as a public institution, HSI, Asian American, and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution permit/require historically informed reparative work?

Analyze F+DM's current and past demographics. What are our current demographics, what changes have occurred in the demographic makeup of students, faculty, and staff, and what trends do they show? Track metrics on student recruitment and student success, study their implications, and design remedies. How should these numbers inform our DEI work? (Council to assemble and study this information in consultation with IRAPS, CITL and others).

Future FTE requests. Foreground the need for representing the lived experiences and perspectives of underrepresented communities in California and elsewhere, and ensure that F+DM's 2022-23 FTE request furthers our goal to diversify our tenure-track faculty. (Council to coordinate with Faculty Recruitment Committee).

Engage in focused informational outreach and recruitment with a view to increasing the numbers of underrepresented faculty and staff. Begin collaboration with other departments and programs on a cluster hire of faculty and staff who represent racial, ethnic, and lived-experience perspectives that reflect our student body, the state of California, and historically underrepresented communities in California. (Council to work with other departments and programs).

Curriculum revision. How does the structure of our curriculum, the matrix of disciplines represented in our teaching, and our course offerings embody and reproduce inequities and bias? Rethink and “decolonize” F+DM curriculum away from Eurocentric framing and making of film, media, theory; decenter English-based research and instruction by encouraging and incorporating theories and discourses (not just media works) generated by women, gender-nonconforming people, and BIPOC (and People of the Global Majority) that may not be in English. Take a broader view of non-Western teaching and learning modalities, and incorporate them into our curriculum. Pilot courses centered on DEI and seek resources to make successful courses permanent. Elevate special-topics courses to full presence in the General Catalog and fund teaching of these courses. Seek and nurture relationships with BIPOC-centered producers and production organizations and invite them to fulfill compensated positions in our department and division. Include students and Lecturers in the curriculum review process. Develop ways to articulate this process to colleagues both within and outside our campus and to the cinema and media studies and production fields at large. (Council to work in collaboration with department's curriculum review process, Undergraduate and Graduate Affairs Committees).

Fund equity. Identify and seek long-term funding for equity awards for students and faculty including student scholarships and faculty fellowships for outstanding work, research, or art centering racial, ethnic, gender, sexuality, class, ability, lingua-culture equality. (Council to establish a representative peer committee(s) to research possible awards, craft proposals for funding and evaluate applications).

Understand and address the effects of ableism. Create a community health, mental health, and disability departmental statement of goals that reflects a nuanced understanding of ableism and the ways health, mental health, and disabilities intersect with teaching, research, and departmental business.

Take a public antiracist and antibias position. Guided by our DEI process, articulate a position on antiracism and antibias in all its manifestations and publish it on our website, in recruiting materials, and other department publications. Consider consultation with local Native elders regarding a reparative acknowledgment with special respect to the role that media plays in perpetuating settler colonialism and other power imbalances.

Learn from Indigeneity. What do Indigenous ways of thinking and strategies for survival teach us about our relationship with the land and with one another? How might deep consideration of Indigeneity help us advance not only our own sense of shared activities and goals but our understanding of our academic and artistic work as well?

Continuing priorities (Academic years 2023-24 and onward)

Community engagement and outreach. Emphasize regional and local underrepresented communities in research, creative activity, service, and engagement. Understand pipelines already in existence and work on developing additional ones needed.

Research and study DEI scholarship and research. Create a study group (including TT faculty, lecturers, students, GSI’s) dedicated to reading and discussing scholarly literature on DEI-related issues

Develop transnational perspectives. Seek funds to encourage and award students to undertake the translation of non-English texts and media works that can be the basis for building a decolonizing teaching database. This project could be incorporated into graduate seminars.