A Letter from the Director

 

Hi everyone,

I am writing in solidarity with all of us who have experienced any form of discrimination or wrongdoing at the university or elsewhere. On behalf of the whole School, I wish to reiterate that we need to stand together against all forms of prejudice, including racism, inequity, injustice, and cultural bias. This cannot be tolerated under any circumstance. On behalf of everyone, I also want to apologize to all of us who have felt unfairly treated, ignored, or disrespected.

For many years, all of us - students, staff, sessional instructors, and faculty - have been working hard together to make the School a place that is inclusive and respectful, open to diverse perspectives and positions. Our collegial navigation through these various challenges is what makes the School special and strong, yet imperfect and in constant flow, as we seek to improve our daily lives and practices. This has always been done with student representatives on all School committees. Still, we need to recognize that significant work remains to be done to ensure that everyone has a creative and safe space to voice concerns and propose ideas to improve what we do at the School.

I am fully aware that statements such as this are not enough and are just a step forward in addressing concerns such as the ones that have been shared. Perhaps not being enough is inherent in our determination to grow, to question ourselves, and to make the School an even more creative, diverse, and fun environment. This School, which we care about so much, has to be a place where everyone feels welcome and able to do their best. We can only do this together.

This is a time for us to get together - as one school, as one community - to listen to diverse voices and address these pressing issues. We can do this by providing a platform to discuss concerns and ideas by those who have experienced feeling marginalised or underrepresented at the School: in our teachings, learning objectives, desk crits, reviews, seminars, and lectures. This will involve open discussions and learning opportunities with students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the profession about organisational structures, curricula, guests, faculty, hiring processes, etc.

With humility, I ask that we recognise the humanity in all of us, including our imperfections. We all make mistakes, but we also need to learn from them, especially when they affect others who feel they have no voice in their communities, their education, or their professional life. This will help prepare us, as architects in our communities, to become more active agents in the work we do, helping us recognise and dismantle embedded structures of oppression and/or inequity.

To help us move forward, I have arranged with Dalhousie's Human Rights and Equity Services to organise and facilitate a restorative approach in which all of us can discuss particular and systemic issues, starting this fall. Next week, I’ll send out a message from the facilitators at HRES that includes details about the process ahead.

Making architecture is always an act of optimism. By remaining optimistic during challenging times, we can aspire to the best worlds we can imagine, both individually and collectively.

For this to be successful, we need to do this together. The School is one. It is also all of us together, standing together, working together.

Be safe. We all miss each other at the School.

Best
Diogo

14 Aug. 2020