Message from Dean Gerardo Aldana
This message was sent to CCS Students on September 16, 2020
Dear CCS Students,
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disappointing news that instruction will be almost entirely remote for Fall 2020. I can assure you that it was a decision fully vetted by campus leadership and amounts to the only safe choice available to us at this time. Please know that we’ve heard from many of you and your peers—we’ve heard from some who are content reconnecting with family and home cooked meals; we’ve heard from others who are confronting challenges of multiple forms, some expected and others not. If you need help or if you’d like to offer help, please let us know and we will connect you to the many resources being mobilized at this time. I’ll also note that regardless of the circumstances, we are committed to providing you a CCS experience you will value both as you go through it and as you look back on it when this has all passed.
A positive step in this direction is that the campus has engaged in a cautious program of re-starting some faculty creative and research activities. Staggering their schedules so that there is little to no overlap, following all CDC guidelines for mask-wearing and social distancing, there is work transpiring on an otherwise very empty campus. Most importantly, we’ve thus far had no cases of COVID-19 transmission among researchers or artists on campus. Things will get more complicated as we eventually bring more people to campus, but it is encouraging that we have this strong track record to work from. I’m grateful to report that our own Prof. Stu Feinstein (CCS Bio) is playing a critical role in creating and implementing our campus testing program.
In these unconventional times, we are seeking new ways of connecting with and supporting our close-knit community. Here I am truly grateful to the CCS Community Council for stepping up and organizing both social events as well as opportunities to get involved. Be sure to participate in a CCS Game Night on Fridays this summer, and potentially continuing through the academic year. Also, keep an eye out for the chance to join the CCS Mentor Program that Community Council organizes.
I’ll take this opportunity to suggest you consider enrolling in our new GE Option courses this year. These courses are designed to provide you venues to develop new skills as you work to communicate your own expertise across disciplinary lines. Rest assured that with these new courses, we have no interest in impeding the development of your own mastery of your chosen fields; instead, these courses will help you communicate that mastery outside your field in generative contexts and collaborations.
I am also pleased to report that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives are taking root across colleges and across divisions here at UCSB. As this has been one of my own priorities, I am heartened by the response, and hopeful that as a campus we won’t simply pay lip service and move on, but that we will make substantive change to our infrastructure, policies and our own personal interactions with campus culture and with each other as individuals.
In all of this, it’s important to recognize that at its core, DE&I initiatives are not about addressing a specific issue or demographic category, but about how privileges and access to resources are distributed within and across communities. And it affects everyone. In this, Twitter has helped me out, providing a shorthand reminder. @namirari (Namira Islam Anani) writes:
“Diversity is who is in the room. Inclusion is who has influence in that room. Anti-racism is a mindset, way of being, and goal for a group of people in a room. These are not interchangeable terms.”
I’ll add that these are factors we can observe in our living rooms, in our communities and in our institutions. We are all subject to these forces to varying degrees, but—like the impacts of COVID-19—they are often more visible within certain communities than others and at certain times over others. Now is the time for us to become more aware of them in our own lives in order to understand and work toward the collective goals of our college and our society. I urge you to listen to Black voices, listen to Indigenous voices, listen to the voices rising up from People of Color and LGBTQ+ communities. Each individual will not have all the answers, but they can help you understand what is at stake. I ask that you keep this in mind as we engage college-level and campus-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives in the coming year.
I’ll close by saying that I look forward to connecting with you at our All-College events on September 30. Be on the lookout for further details on our website and via email. Until then, be well and remember to wear your masks.
Dean of the College of Creative Studies
Professor of Archaeology and the History of Science
Department of Chicana/o Studies, College of Letters & Science