Kansas City Art Institute Responds to Student Group KCAI Solidarity
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Kansas City Art Institute Responds to Student Group KCAI Solidarity

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Kansas City Art Institute Responds to Student Group KCAI Solidarity

Informality is an organization dedicated to informal and informative dialogue around art in the Kansas City region. For that reason, we have decided to publish the document below from KCAI Solidarity, a newly formed group run by the Student Solidarity Network and the Black Student Union at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI). The group, comprised of current students, wants to illuminate the college’s issues, both historical and recent, that affect student and community life. The demands of KCAI Solidarity received a multi-page response from KCAI that can be read here.

Our editorial team is united in solidarity with the demands of students around reform.

We believe that by publishing these demands on our platform, we can increase the visibility of the student’s message and continue to hold KCAI accountable as it moves forward with proposed initiatives around diversity and inclusion.

From KCAI Solidarity

DEAR KCAI,

The Kansas City Art Institute was founded and continues to be complicit in the perpetuation of systematic racism, anti-black and colonial systems. By not taking systemic action and reforming the institution, they are a part of the violent American legacy that continues to harm and erase Black, Indigenous, POC, Queer and Disabled folk in our communities. 

We are joining the larger student-led movement of art institutions around the country calling for systemic change and reform. These demands touch on the dismissed violence and erasure that KCAI students have been experiencing for decades. These demands must be understood in relation to global systems of oppression on Black, Indigenous, POC, Queer, Disabled and other marginalized groups that seep into the educational spaces we occupy.

The Demands

1. First and Foremost

We demand the right for students, staff and faculty to organize without retaliation.


2. Restructuring the Hiring Process

  • We demand the school hire and retain a minimum of 25% Indigenous, Black, Brown faculty into tenure-track positions immediately. 
  • We demand the school acknowledge the importance of Queer faculty and work towards making the campus environment safer for our BIPOC and Queer community. 
  • We demand that KCAI hire Black or Brown psychologists or counselors with knowledge and understanding of the mental health needs of underserved populations.
  • We demand adequate academic and career support services to better meet student needs. The current all white academic advising department has not been able to truly support students. We demand that the school hire an additional academic and career support staff of BIPOC descent.

3. Required Comprehensive Diversity Education and Implicit Bias Training for the Board of Trustees, Administration, Faculty, Staff and Students.

  • We demand that all KCAI administration, faculty, board and staff must have mandatory education on cultural humility, implicit bias and accountability bi-annually, as well as before going on a search committee.
  •  We demand that KCAI work in collaboration with students on core goals of the institution so that they may refer to them in Title VI, Title IX and other campus incidents.
  • We demand that students be educated on their Title VI and Title IX rights during orientation and their rights be included in all syllabi.

4. Creation of Official Body Dedicated to Social Equity and Inclusion

  • We demand the formation of an official body dedicated to diversity, social equity, access and inclusion. If IDEA is this body, we demand the faculty leading the group be compensated for their labor by giving them a 2% raise. 
  • We demand KCAI hire BIPOC students for IDEA as work study positions.
  • We demand that a group of faculty and Alumni are required to audit proposed courses, who is chosen by the IDEA committee and a qualified faculty member educated on the subject.
  •  We demand that the school implement transformative justice practices into residential life, academic and career advising and support, student affairs, and Title VI, Title IX and conflict resolution procedures. 
  • We demand the school make sure international students are protected from ICE and won’t be deported if the school switches to online-only courses. This means by any means necessary.

5. Acknowledgement and Payment for BIPOC Labor as Work Study

  • We demand the school put in place a student government with representatives from each department who are able to voice the concerns of the student body. Representatives should be compensated with either course credit or work study funds. 
  • We demand compensation for students who promote campus engagement and the implicit effort to not tokenize queer students and BIPOC students for engagement, publicity, and branding.

6. Zero Tolerance Policy

  • We demand A Zero Tolerance Policy for anti-Black, racist, xenophobic, transphobic, homophobic, sexist, sexual assault, harassment, and ableist behavior be implemented, effective immediately. 

7. Expanding the Curriculum

  • We demand an abolition of prerequisites Art History and History of Thought I & II.
  • We demand that you replace the courses with expanded Art History and Liberal Art courses to include global studies. 
  • We demand that truly qualified professors teach these expanded courses with both 
  • We demand that anti-racist studies be included into the curriculum as a priority and that faculty be required to participate in anti-racist workshops bi-annually. White supremacy is embedded into the very foundation of this institution and the current curriculum, it is KCAI’s duty to dismantle it. 
  • We demand that 50% of the visiting artists for Current Perspectives, department studio visits, critiques, and demonstrations are BIPOC.

8. Departmental Restructuring and Reform

  • We demand that KCAI restructure and update the Foundation’s curriculum and structure immediately.
  • We demand that BIPOC and queer faculty be hired in foundations immediately, and all current faculty go through intensive sensitivity training regarding the Zero-Tolerance Policy.
  • We demand that KCAI treat each department equitably – ensure that departments are well-staffed and that students have access to conversations about departmental needs with administration. What happened to Interactive Arts should never happen again.

9. Tuition Support and Reform

  • We demand that the school begin moving away from the tuition driven model immediately as a form of systemic reform.
  • We demand that the Board of Trustees address the underlying economics of the school, the fact that tuition is run on the students dime. This furthers KCAI in the entrenchment of colonialism’s status quo. We demand that the Board of Trustees begin by becoming more diverse in their role and background. 
  • We demand that as incremental reform leading up to the abolition of the tuition driven model, KCAI increases accessibility for all students by reconstructing its annually inflating financial model through a tuition reduction of 20%.
  • As another form of incremental reform, we demand that KCAI creates a merit scholarship and stipend for BIPOC students to receive per year, per upper-level department within their tuition package. 

10. Health Services

  • We demand adequate free on-campus health services or extremely accessible off-campus services that are both affordable and extremely close to campus.
  • We demand the school provide affordable and accessible health care packages and take the initiative to provide multiple opportunities to inform and educate students on how to utilize this resource.
  • We demand a healthy, clean quality of food.

11. Long-Term Promise to Work Towards Decolonization

  • We demand not only land acknowledgements to Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral land we’re on, both orally and visually throughout the KCAI campus, curriculum and communications, but also land reparations.
  • We demand that KCAI create a free tuition incentive to incoming students whose ancestors were displaced from the land KCAI is built on.
  • We demand that KCAI build partnerships and solidarity with the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kansa, Kiowa, Kaw, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita nations, as well as the greater Kansas City community.
  • We demand the divestment of KCAI from blood money: fossil fuels, extractive industry, private prisons, etc.

12. Long-Term Promise to Work Towards Sustainability

  • We demand the school work towards becoming a truly sustainable institution. 
  • We demand that a system be put in place to limit water use and municipal solid waste in studios and across campus through both curriculum implementation and a designated sustainability task force.
  • We demand that dumpsters be down sized to limit and prevent large quantities of waste. 
  • We demand that KCAI prioritize native plants when spending money on landscaping and severely cut down on irrigation practices. 

13. Truly Accessible and Affordable Campus

  • We demand that parking be affordable & accessible.
  • We demand all buildings on campus be truly accessible, not just ADA compliant. 

14. Compensation for Administrative Neglect

  • We demand that the dorm residents of Fall 2019 are truly consulted and compensated for the inhumane conditions endured during the campus’s growth.

Find more resources, and a link to KCAI’s response on the KCAI Solidarity website.

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