I am writing in appreciation of recent articles in the IDS calling on IU to more boldly confront systemic racism and promote anti-racist education within our own organizational structures. I also want to clarify and correct one statement made in two recent opinion pieces on Sept. 13 and Oct. 6, stating that the budget of the Department of African American and African Diaspora studies has been reduced by a third since 2006.
AAADS serves students and scholars across many disciplines and schools, with excellent award-winning faculty exploring a breadth of topics through the lens of Black experience and race. One of the first such departments in the nation, AAADS offers undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees, as well as interdepartmental degrees with English, history, religious studies and sociology. With three outstanding performing arts ensembles — the African American Dance Company, African American Choral Ensemble and the IU Soul Revue — it is also a vibrant locus of creative activity on campus.
Departmental budgets, which are administered by the College of Arts and Sciences, contain many accounts aside from the general fund, both internal and external. When we look at the aggregate of these accounts, the average of the three years 2017 – 2020 is 7% lower than the average of 2006 – 2009, and not lower by “nearly a third” as claimed in the published pieces. Since 2012, we see the budget for AAADS has, in fact, increased by 14% to its current one and a half million. That increase is backed by the number of course offerings and graduate students in the department, both of which have grown since 2012.
While we know injustice, inequity and inequality cannot be righted by budgets alone, we understand the need to allocate and enhance resources to increase opportunities for BIPOC students and scholars. This advocacy work is one of our ongoing objectives in the College as we move ahead.
Areas of strategic focus for the College include working with faculty to make pedagogy more inclusive, educating faculty and staff about inclusive practices relevant to their roles, offering more courses across the curriculum on topics of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as pursuing initiatives and outreach activities to increase the diversity of students and faculty.
Rick Van Kooten
College of Arts and Sciences