As we have witnessed over the past month, students and alumni from across the world, in solidarity with the BLM Movement, have been demanding that schools of architecture address the systemic racism embedded within their institutions. These letters and the signatures that support them embody a moment of political will within the architecture community. This grassroots effort, led by students, alumni, and faculty, to challenge the power dynamic that has governed our academies and our offices for generations is essential if we are to create an equitable future for the profession.
On June 26th, we spoke with Dean Berke to learn what the School is planning to do in response to the urgent call for action from current students and alumni. She shared ongoing initiatives begun during her deanship, which have focused on diversifying the student body and the faculty. We have asked her to share these initiatives publicly and improve communication with YSoA alumni. While these initiatives are significant first steps, they fall short of the radical change needed to address structural racism at Yale. YSoA’s response pales in comparison to commitments made by other leading architecture institutions and faculty coalitions.
Of more than 140 endowed funds and terms specific to the YSoA, the Ng Chi Sing Scholarship Fund is the only fund that attempts to promote an inclusive vision for the school. The problem, it appears, is not how much money the school has but how it is prioritized and directed. These issues cannot be solved immediately but their importance and urgency merits constant pressure from the YSoA community and a public commitment to action from the School.
We have been in contact with Yale NOMAS and YSoA Equality in Design; they have recently formed chapters, written a letter to the School, conducted their own town hall, and are currently in discussion with the Dean and administration about enacting changes to the curriculum. With little to no funding from the School, students are leading the charge and urgently need our support.
More than 700 alumni signed the letter, including more than half of the graduates from the last decade, and more than 75% of the current graduating class of 2020. We need all your voices to ensure that change is a priority at the school.
Take the NOMAS student experience survey.
If you graduated after the year 2000, or are a current student, please take the survey put together by NOMAS, on the specifics of your experience at the YSoA. The deadline for submissions is July 5th at midnight.
Donate directly to NOMAS and EID.
Current student initiatives need immediate financial support. Consider contributing to our funding campaign to support Yale NOMAS and the YSOA EID - every dollar counts.
Put pressure on the school.
Email, call, text, or DM members of the administration and faculty asking what new steps they are going to take, and why we haven’t heard about them yet. Demand action, transparency and accountability.
A more inclusive profession will only be possible with systemic change: in our schools, in our offices, and in ourselves. The BLM YSOA website is a repository of resources, readings, allies, and BIPOC designers for us all to use as we work together to build an equitable profession.
Lilly Agutu, M.Arch I ‘22
Amanda Bridges, M.Arch I ‘15
Amrita Raja, M.Arch I ‘13
Dima Srouji, M.Arch I ‘16
Katharine Storr, M. Arch I ‘13
Ian Svilokos, M.Arch I ‘14
Lexi Tsien, M.Arch I ‘13
Brittany Utting, M.Arch I ‘14
Caroline VanAcker, M.Arch I '14
Sheena Zhang, M.Arch I, M.E.M. ‘15