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Music Department Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI)

Music Department Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan

Music is in stage three of a four stage DEI process. Stage one involved a four year engagement among faculty to change music’s curriculum to be more globally inclusive and nationally representative. The proposed revisions were approved in the spring of 2020 and launched in the fall of 2020. Stage two, published on our website in the spring of 2020, involved an explicit statement of solidarity with BIPOC communities and a commitment to anti-racist practices, pedagogies and culture. We are currently in stage three which involves implementing our revised curriculum and our expressed commitments in our departmental pledge. Stage four is to identify what more we need to do.

Stage one: revised curriculum: In Fall of 2020, Music launched its revised curriculum, which separated the B.A. in Music into three concentrations: “Western Art Music”, “Global Musics”, and “Contemporary Practices”. These revisions diversify our curriculum, provide better access and structures for student success, better represent current faculty research interests, respond to student interest and are forward looking. In particular, the three concentrations work to de-center canons and their associated value systems, and promote more open and exploratory modes of thinking and dialogue that foster both the celebration and critical examination of global musical practices. Our disciplines—in many respects shaped by the investments of traditionally white and colonial institutions—carry with them a legacy of racial, cultural and gendered exclusion, as do many of the musical traditions they represent. In all three concentrations, therefore, we seek heightened awareness of the impact of these structures of violence and exclusion on the music we study, teach and perform.

Our internal survey and enrollment metrics show that we lost majors (from onboarding to graduation) due to curricular bottlenecks and limited diversity of offerings. We now offer multiple preparatory courses each year to create more onramps and have diversified our music theory requirements to reduce bottlenecks. Additionally, our internal survey showed that many prospective music majors have interests in musical traditions beyond Western Art Music (which we have addressed with our Global Musics concentration) and were extremely interested in composition (which we have addressed with our Contemporary Practices concentration). The new concentrations allow a diversity of students interested in the major (that were previously turned away) to access and complete the major without past bottleneck issues or qualification issues (one-to-one lessons).

Music also established a needs-based scholarship to offset lesson fees. One major structural form of exclusion and inaccessibility are the high lesson fees associated with individual music lessons. On the one hand, these fees have emerged as an existentially necessary response to budget cuts: these fees have supplemented divisional funding to maintain the applied program and therefore the ability of UCSC students to receive an R1 education by working closely with world-class musicians. On the other hand, these fees provide substantial barriers and challenges for students who come from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds. The needs-based scholarship is meant to ameliorate these barriers but it does not overcome them. The department believes that these fees should be waived and the program supported with permanent funds. On a parallel path, Music has established needs-based scholarships as a fundraising priority with the goal of offsetting 100% of applied lesson fees for students in need.

Stage two: initiatives and commitments towards racial justice: In the Spring of 2020, the music department embarked on a month-plus discussion on how to respond to the racial violence preceding and responding to the Black Lives Matter movement more broadly and the George Floyd protests more specifically. The conversations took place over five weeks and three department meetings and entailed deep and productively difficult conversations with ladder faculty, applied faculty, lecturers and staff. We circulated multiple iterations of draft statements and then took a blind digital vote which provided another opportunity to voice opinions anonymously. Of the 25 who voted: 23 voted for the statement; 1 voted against; 1 voted for a statement, but was not yet comfortable with the current one.

In that statement, the department committed to “combating racial hatred, individual acts of racism, and institutional racism that form the context in which racist violence occurs. We commit our department to the conscientious support of students of color, and particularly to Black students, who struggle within the context of ongoing threats of racist violence that impact their education. We also commit to combating racism and Anti-Blackness within our own institution, and within our disciplines, through reforms in our curriculum; setting new priorities in outreach, recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion; and renewed attention to equity in our standards of academic advancement and excellence. With this statement we also express initiatives that manifest our commitments and point to measurable outcomes: increased diversity in our student body, staff, and faculty, and a curriculum that more meaningfully reflects the musics and cultures of our community and society.”

In terms of concrete action-steps, the department committed to “to address implicit and systematic bias in our department through a regular implementation of anti-bigotry and bias-awareness education, and increased transparency for accessible processes for grievance against bigotry and bias. We pledge to ensure that ensemble courses spanning diverse music practices are equally valued in the curriculum. We pledge specific further improvements to our gateway courses, including courses in culture/history, theory/musicianship, and performance practice, to reflect with more integrity the significance of African American, Global African, and diverse Latinx, Latin American and indigenous American musical traditions, particularly relevant to our place as a Hispanic-serving institution of higher learning in California. We, as a department, united with all conscientious programs in the arts, also commit to upholding the rights of students engaging in social critique through combinations of creative work and activism, and we recognize that students of color face disproportionate oppression in their attempts to pursue visible work in social justice and related expressions. The value of this statement depends upon action, and on our ability to fulfill the promises and commitments made here. To hold ourselves accountable, we pledge renewed public dialogue about the results of our commitments, in the following forms: 

"With this announcement, we established a Diversity Committee. This committee convened beginning in the Fall of 2020, with invitations to staff, students (undergraduate and graduate), and faculty (lecturers, applied lecturers, and ladder faculty). This committee is charged with assessment of our progress on:

  1. “Decentering and diversifying the structure and content of our undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
  2. “Incorporating diversity measures into our Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) and our ongoing PLO assessment and revision process.
  3. “Diversifying our undergraduate and graduate student body.
  4. “Increasing our attention to anti-discrimination and bias-awareness measures and resources in our processes of recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion of faculty and staff.
  5. “Building and developing our existing needs-based scholarship program, and ensuring its support of underrepresented communities and economically stressed students.
  6. “Improving our outreach to prospective students, both on our campus and in California’s high schools and junior/intermediary/community colleges, with the aim of inclusivity in our recruitment to our programs and courses.
  7. “The diversity committee will report annually on our measures toward these goals, and their outcomes. It will also make recommendations on how better to accomplish, stay accountable, rearticulate and expand those goals.

“With this announcement we commence a new department scholarship dedicated to undergraduate and graduate students whose research and/or creative work is aimed at critiques of racism, racial injustice, and cultural marginalization within the discipline of music, or in society more broadly. The scholarship, funded by music faculty as well as new and existing donors, will be open to all student applicants, and will be adjudicated by a committee including members of the music department faculty and student body, and will include representation from both faculty and student groups outside our community.

Stage three: implementation of racial justice plans and revised curriculum

1. Diversity committee: The music department established a diversity committee with the following volunteers as members: Ben Carson, Nicol Hammond, Dard Neuman and visiting Professor Michelle Lou. Every year, the department will present a call to faculty for participation. Lecturers, faculty and staff were also invited but due to workload issues were not expected to join the regular meetings but would/will be invited to listening and, eventually, shareback sessions. In 2020-21 the diversity committee met with undergraduate students on two occasions to listen and then discuss DEI issues in music. All who attended were BIPOC students and all but one were women. All expressed appreciation for the changes the department was making but also expressed very negative experiences of alienation, hostility, cultural chauvinism, elitism, sexism and exclusion. They made clear that while they appreciate the openness in the Global Musics and Contemporary Practices concentration, they wanted the Western Art Music concentration to also become more open and less hostile. This is a perspective shared by our Western Art Music faculty so we mark DEI work within WAM as a key initiative that requires current and future work. The diversity committee also:

a. Established the diversity scholarship (pledged above) for students whose research and/or creative work is aimed at critiques of racism, racial injustice, and cultural marginalization. Fundraising for this scholarship started on giving day (Fall 2021), which raised $2,050. The next-step is for the diversity committee to determine the call and how to invite students to participate in the development of the call and the assessment of the applications.
b. Revised Music’s Program Learning Outcomes (PLO) to reflect our revised curriculum and to incorporate so as to measure progress (or the lack thereof) in DEI matters. Those revisions were shared with ladder faculty in the fall of 2021. We expect the revisions to be approved next quarter and posted on our website (in the fall of 2022).
c. Started the process of revising class descriptions to de-center Eurocentric assumptions in the Western art music courses and the elitist, hierarchical and patriarchal assumptions in all three concentrations. This is a collaborative process that we expect to continue through this academic year and be completed by the spring of 2022.
d. Met with CITL to explore anti-racist pedagogy through workshops facilitated by CITL. These opportunities were delayed due to a leave taken by the CITL facilitator. We will regroup with CITL when they have the resources to support us.
e. Brought together anti-racist literature and is in the process of organzing for access to faculty. This should be ready by winter of 2022

2. Hiring practices: the music department has two shifts in hiring practices that have diversified the department musically, disciplinarily and demographically.

a. The first was to diversify ladder faculty: Nina Treadwell (2004) Dard Neuman (2005), Tanya Merchant (2006), Nicol Hammond (2014), Bruce Kiesling (2015), Russell Rodriguez (2017), Matthew Shumaker (2021) as well as visiting Professor Michelle Lou (2019). The hires of Treadwell, Neuman, Merchant, Hammond and Rodriguez supported the cultural musicology doctoral program which also meant supporting musics beyond Europe and the European common-practice era. The hiring of Shumaker was in support of the DMA program. The hire of Kiesling supported our Orchestra and helped to diversify our western art music programs.

b. The second was to diversify lecturer hires in the applied program.

  • Ashwin Batish for Indian rhythms (2017), Viviana Guzman for flute (2017), Jay Hosler for Applied Violin/Viola for all styles/genres (2019); Charles Hamilton for low brass (2019 ); Charles Tolliver guest artist (2021); Frances Akotuah for Ghanian drumming (2021); Juan Díaz for mariachi (2021); Magdalena Vega for Los Meijicas Folklórico (2021); Tammy Hall for Jazz Theory (2022); Josiah Stocker, staff accompanist - all styles/genres.
  • The music department has completed two searches for applied faculty: one for small jazz combos and another for jazz bass instruction.
  • The music department also followed through on its racial justice commitment by eleving and prioritizing the Global African Composer position, which was approved in the spring of 2021 and concluded with the successful hire of Professor James Williams..

3. More support for jazz, hip hop and Afrofuturism programing:

a. In the summer of 2020, Professors Charles Hamilton and Karlton Hester approached Chair Dard Neuman with the opportunity to invite preeminent jazz artist Charles Tolliver to UCSC to work with Professor Hamilton’s jazz ensemble to present John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass for its 60th anniversary celebration. The Music Department went on to invite Tolliver to campus for fall 2021. In addition to working with UCSC’s big band jazz ensemble to present Africa/Brass, Professor Tolliver also taught a seminar and workshop on spontaneous composition and improvisation and a course on jazz theory. The preparation for Africa/Brass involved transforming the UCSC Big Band into a full jazz orchestra with a choir, and required an intense focus to prepare students for this historic occasion. The performance was a success and allowed the department to establish and launch a continuing jazz scholarship fund (see below). Put differently, we viewed this performance not as a one-off but as an opportunity to kickstart momentum to support and build our jazz program.
b. In that respect, the music department worked with the Arts division development director to establish the UCSC “John Coltrane Jazz Fund” and promoted it in relation to the concert.
c. The Music department has an open lecturer search for a hip hop artist to lead a hip hop workshop in the spring of 2020. Inspired by Professor Hester’s Hip Hop Hesteria, this workshop is an early phase attempt at integrating Hip Hop into the music department and the arts division: working towards making the department, division (and by extension) the university a more critically inclusive space for Black Americans, Global Africans and all marginalized Global citizens for whom Hip Hop is a centrally important mode of expression. The Music Department is also discussing making Hip Hop a future FTE priority.
d. Karlton Hester and Dard Neuman are also collaborating on a spring 2022 concert involving the creative work of jazz and hindustani musicians for Professor Hester’s Afrofuturism programming. This concert will take place on May 9, 2022 and brings together the Hindustani maestro Nishat Khan with the Jazz maestros David Murray, and Hamid Drake. This is a project co-sponsored by the Institute of Arts and Sciences, the Indian Music Endowment, the Music Department, and the Center for South Asian Studies. As such, it also represents a collaborative experiment between two de-centering "fields" or paradigms, Afrofuturism and South Asian studies, in that both aim to be located from and surmount/expand the boundaries they signify.

4. Faculty action via changes to curricula

a. Applied voice instructor Emily Sinclair worked with students in her studio in the Fall of 2020 on a program that highlighted art songs by Black American composers.
b. The preparatory theory courses MUSC 13 and MUSC 16 provide onramps into music theory for students with little music theory. These courses prepare students for all three of our concentrations, as well as our minors.
c. Applied guitar instructors Bill Coulter and Christopher Mallett directed the Guitar Ensemble in a performance titled, “Beyond Ferguson'' by Thomas Flippin in the Fall 2020 ensemble concert. Mallett went on to premier the duo version (Duo Noire) in Ferguson, Missouri, shortly after the Ferguson protests and had the chance to visit Michael Brown's high school and perform for his classmates.
d. Ben Carson has invited composer Pamila Z to work with graduate DMA students in the spring of 2022.
e. Nicol Hammond worked on a May 16th screening of Fire Shut Up In My Bones, with an introductory seminar from 9am-noon.

Future Plans: The action items below include how we plan to deepen our DEI commitments and grow our curriculum with specific DEI outreach efforts.

Actions Include:

• Focus our fundraising efforts on increased support for needs-based scholarships and diversification of applied faculty program and resident ensembles. Our one-pager focuses on raising:

  • Endowments (or appealing to UCSC) to better support applied faculty program and reduce/eliminate lesson fees
  • More long-term support and stability for applied faculty in non-western art music traditions: focus on jazz, mariachi, popular music, and electronic music.
  • Increased support to bring resident ensembles to our department. These ensembles serve a number of purposes:
    • Connect composition students with world-class musicians to perform and workshop their music. Direct collaboration with performers provides composition students with immediate feedback to their writing, exposure to new ideas and playing techniques, and networking opportunities within the professional music world. With the addition of our Contemporary Practices BA, the number of composition students in the department has grown and will continue to grow, so these ensembles will be of increased significance.
    • Resident ensemble members can provide professional coaching and masterclasses for student performers and ensembles, as well as offer opportunities to engage with any specific performance practices surrounding the music of the resident ensemble.
    • Draw a wider audience to events and concerts programmed by the Music Department. A larger audience will increase the chances of connecting with potential donors, and encourage our current donors to continue giving their donations.
  • Hire and train peer advisors that represent the new curricular concentrations. Peer advisers will visit Music large lecture courses regularly to introduce the new curricular concentrations. Peer advisors may also plan regular student events.
  • Marketing Campaign promoting the concentrations and minors.
  • Timeline for all undergraduate degrees to be revised (new students entering revised programs next year).
  • Increased critical inquiry/analysis across all degrees
  • Increased Town Hall Meetings with applied faculty, staff, and undergraduate/graduate students.
  • Develop DEI workshops for faculty and staff with lecturers invited.
  • Chair’s Advisory Board - coalition of undergraduate students from all Music degree programs that meets quarterly with the Department Chair to bring forth issues, questions, suggestions.
  • Extend invitations to undergraduate and graduate student reps to faculty meetings (at least once per academic year)
  • Examine and update (or create) policies for student complaints, new policies to facilitate communication and student agency
  • Financial accountability: published production budgets and scholarship distributions (names redacted)
  • Prioritizing balance and inclusion with a commitment to increasing the number of BIPOC guest artists
  • Faculty/student working groups: Local High School Community Relations and Indigenous Community Relations
  • Consider transparent music repertoire selection process with increased student agency
  • Greater commitment to producing works of women and BIPOC composers / musicians
  • Increased support for non Western Art Music ensembles, applied teaching and performances
  • Commitment to casting authentically without tokenizing or objectifying pain of BIPOC artists in our community
  • Continuing to recruit to meet the needs of revised curriculum vs. established curriculum
  • Identifying new feeder schools, including increased attention to community colleges
  • Attention to equity concerns in scholarship support
  • Expanding scholarship reach beyond established parameters​
    • Current focus is primarily on performance-based (and even more specifically, western classical performance) scholarships