I am delighted to see the growing interest on campus about diversity in general, but also in the annual grants available through the Diversity Council. Creating a “purposefully diverse” campus is a key goal of the FIT Strategic Plan and the work of the Diversity Council is a big part of meeting that goal.
So it is gratifying to see that in just a few years, the Council’s grants have yielded a range of impressive projects, everything from dance performances to scholarly work on diversity and globalization to intriguing art pieces. Anyone who passed through the Pomerantz Center in early 2014 will recall the work of grant recipient Pansum Cheng, sculpture technologist in the Fine Arts department, who installed a fascinating sculpture, playfully entitled Miss Communication in the lobby. In fact, I posted about it last spring. The sculpture took months to build with the help of numerous FIT students, and required the stringing of fishing line between 2,400 empty cans attached to two temporary walls.
“It was born out of the experience of people not being able to align with each other in a common experience,” Cheng said of his installation. “Age, sex, background, and every experience can change the way you look at things.”
Well said. And this year, diversity grants continue to change the way we look at things. One grant funds the Film and Media Screening Series, which is bringing to campus six notable filmmakers for in-person presentations of diverse voices in film and media. For instance, in October, Venezuelan director Mario Pagano presented his dramatic feature Backseat Fighter, set in the world of underground boxing. On November 10, director Jennie Livingston will present Paris Is Burning, her award-winning documentary on New York’s gay and transgender African-American and Latino ballroom culture of the 1980s. Another grant funds the upcoming “Women and Technology: Symposium” and “Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon,” which are designed to address the under-representation of young women in the “contemporary digital space.”
When I established the Diversity Council grant program, I knew the FIT community would respond with new, creative and unexpected ways of looking at diversity issues. And I have not been disappointed. As the due date for the next round of grant applications approaches, I look forward to hearing your ideas to promote diversity at FIT.
Grant proposals are due November 2, 2015 for Spring 2016 events. Proposals for Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 events are due March 1, 2016. To learn more about applying for Diversity Grants, visit the Diversity Council website.