Every February the entire nation honors Black History Month.
At FIT, on Thursday, February 2, there will be a Black History Month Opening Ceremony. Dr. Ronald Milan, co-chair of the Diversity Council, will be the keynote speaker. The event will be open to the entire FIT community, on February 2, 2017 at 12:30 p.m in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater.
Watch for many more events related to Black History Month as they are added to this blog, and posted around the school!
Professor Eric Velasquez, faculty member in FIT’s Illustration Program, was invited to discuss his work with graduate students Teachers College at Columbia University on March 1st 2016.
Velasquez, an Afro-Puerto Rican author and illustrator of children’s literature, highlighted the need for more Afro-Latino narratives in this genre.
Professor Velasquez, is widely admired for his books Grandma’s Gift and Grandma’s Records, in the genre of a African-American and Latino children’s literature. In 2016 he was nominated for a NAACP Image Award for his illustrations in the children’s book New Shoes, by author Susan Lynn Meyer.
News about Professor Velasquez’s presentation at Teachers College can be found at:
When asked, “How do you put on pants?” Air Force veteran Judy McCombs answered with a laugh. “In bed with a lot of wiggling. It’s like putting on skinny jeans.” Erika Morales-Hernandez, Technical Design ’15, listened carefully and took notes. McCombs, a patient at the Veterans Affairs St. Albans Community Living Center, has multiple medical problems and has been wheelchair-bound for three years.
In the spring, Morales-Hernandez and four other Technical Design students at the Fashion Institute of Technology worked together to engineer clothing that is comfortable, stylish, and easy to put on for veterans who use a wheelchair or prosthesis.
Nastaran Rivera ’15 worked with Army veteran Pamela Winfield, who lost her left hand while saving an elderly woman in her neighborhood from a man wielding a sword. At the VA center, students met with an occupational therapist and prosthetic technologists, to discuss which fabrics are least likely to snag on prosthetics made of thermoplastics, acrylic resins, and often metal.
Over the semester, students developed many design strategies. They substituted magnets or Velcro for buttons; incorporated special pleating so a skirt can expand to be put on easily but then contract and look good; and created a tailored jacket with an open sleeve that could be clipped and snapped together, an adjustable fly for a man, and pant hems that could be adjusted with magnetic closures.
The project originated in FIT’s Technical Design capstone course, taught by Assistant Professor Luz Pascal, who says the assignment was “to engineer garments that will improve someone’s life.” Department Chair Deborah Beard said the garments are more than simply one-off designs: “The students put everything they’ve learned in four years into this project. These items are ready for production and ready for wear.”
Morales-Hernandez eventually partnered with Air Force veteran Anna Smith, who uses a wheelchair. It took four separate fittings, first with muslins, before the cape, pants, jacket, and top fit right, Morales-Hernandez said.
The veterans came to the capstone presentation and modeled the clothes. Smith said she was delighted with the whole outfit. Regular pants tend to cut in at the waist and ride up, but Morales-Hernandez’s design didn’t, she said. If these designs ever become an actual line, Smith is ready with a name: Options. “It should be available for all people with disabilities,” she said.
FIT’s Bachelor of Science program in Technical Design trains students how to ensure that garments are manufactured to the correct fit and shape and conform to industry specs and standards. Students are involved in almost every phase of product development: patternmaking, specs, grading, fit, and production.
Professor Charlotte Brown, of the Educational Skills Department created The Language Exchange, an ongoing series of conversation hours in a relaxed setting for the entire FIT community.
International students studying ESL can practice their English with native speakers and native speakers can practice their 2nd language (i.e. Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean) with international students.
In addition to conversing in a second language, these events have proven to be a great opportunity for the FIT community (students, faculty and staff) to have chat about culture and cross-cultural communication.
Professor Brown has shared a few images of Language Exchange in action this past year.
“Beyond Boundaries: Diverse Techniques by Formidable Artists” was a special event held at FIT, March 15-17, 2016. It’s sponsors were the Diversity Council, the School of Liberal Arts, and the Department of History of Art.
Professor Kyunghee Pyun, Department of History of Art, organized this event to celebrate Women’s History Month with an interactive presentation of traditional arts.
Visiting artists Seongmin Ahn and Wonju Seo each created an artistic project over the course of three days, while FIT students and community members engaged with the artists while their projects were in progress.
Professor Pyun contributed her photos below, to document this fascinating cross-cultural experience. All photos by Prof. Pyun, except for the first in the series (taken by an anonymous passerby.)
Rontier Whitfield, a student Diversity Council member, has also served as a Community Assistant in the Residential Life Office at FIT. She recently interviewed some of her fellow ResLife staff members, for this post about diversity-related encouragement for students who live in FIT’s residence halls.
Question: How do you promote diversity in the Residential Life office?
Answer: from Jordan McFarlane Beau
“I promote and support diversity (in the Residential Life Department and the College) by advising my RAs and SRAs to think differently on their diversity programming efforts with our residents/on-campus student population and by recognizing that there are different levels and kinds of diversity on a college campus that we can all learn from.”
Answer: from Matthew Krein
“I encourage my RAs to express themselves! I can learn so much from the RAs and pro-staff. I try to attend their programs because I learn so much about what they are interested and even their backgrounds. One of my RAs held a program in which she celebrated a Polish tradition that she and her family do every Christmas Eve in which you break and eat a wafer after you wish your family member luck and love. She taught this tradition and did a variation of the tradition with her residents and I got to experience something that I had never even known about.”
Answer: from Jocelin Engel
“I think one essential way to promote diversity in the Residence Halls is to create a safe and welcoming environment. The population of our residence halls reflects that of the college – meaning it is heavily female, but all of our residents come from a variety of different places, socioeconomic backgrounds, races and religions. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, and try to use these experiences as learning tool, in the hopes that our residents will graduate and enter the workforce as more tolerant and understanding individuals.”
It’s a big, diverse world out there, one full of new ideas, different points of view and varied cultural experiences. And FIT is right at the heart of it all. Diversity is about embracing that big world and the unique concerns and contributions of everyone on campus. The FIT Diversity Council’s members are drawn from all aspects of campus life, including faculty, students and staff. It promotes diversity, inclusion and equality in every aspect of campus life and works to ensure that all voices of the FIT community are valued and respected.
In upcoming posts, we’ll cover diversity issues and news. We also will highlight upcoming campus events that relate to diversity and inclusion, as well as offer “Meet The Council,” where you can get to know the Council’s members.
The Diversity Council welcomes eight new members for the new academic year:
Ron Amato, Photography, Faculty Senate Rep.
Laticha Brown, Fashion Business Management
Georgia Kalivas, Textile Development and Marketing
Su Ku, Fashion Design – Art
Dana McBroom-Manno, Film, Media and Performing Arts
John Simone, Advertising and Marketing Communications
Christina Solomon, Academic Affairs
Amy Werbel, History of Art
The Diversity Council now has 26 members, including faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni. Members serve a three-year term, starting in the fall, and meet once a month. To be considered for membership, please submit a letter of interest, along with a brief bio, to co-chairs Ronald_Milon@fitnyc.edu or Michael_Cokkinos@fitnyc.edu, or send your application on paper to A605. In your letter, please describe: a) how you currently work to further diversity and inclusion; b) your potential for performing the responsibilities of council membership; c) your ideas for the council’s future or for new diversity initiatives on campus; and, if applicable, d) your background or credentials pertaining to diversity.
Meet Dr. Ronald Milon, , Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the new co-chair of the Diversity Council!
The council has produced a series of video portraits of FIT Diversity Council members to help the campus community to help the FIT community get to know some of the individuals working behind the scenes to encourage diversity all across FIT. Watch for more council member interviews to appear on the blog throughout the year!
At a White House press conference, President Obama hailed the 25th anniversary of the ADA as a milestone in human rights.
The President said that, “Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life — schools, workplaces, theaters, courthouses, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks — they truly belong to everyone.”