The University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology has created and approved a Black Lives Matter Action Plan (presented below), based on a manifesto presented by the UMMAA graduate students. (Read the manifesto here.) The students, curators, and staff of the Museum met remotely to discuss the plan, and subsequently voted to approve it, with the associated timetable for action. The plan is meant to guide the UMMAA community as they build a more diverse and equitable environment.
University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology
Black Lives Matter/Diversity Equity Inclusion Action Plan
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others who have died violently and needlessly at the hands of the police, we, the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology and the archaeology subfield of the Department of Anthropology, do hereby commit to the following actions, to be taken posthaste and without delay.
Our primary, overarching goal is to create a Museum environment that is safe, supportive, and welcoming to all people, most especially Black and Indigenous individuals and People of Color (BIPOC). We acknowledge that we have not in the past sufficiently addressed the needs and safety of BIPOC students in particular, and through this action plan, we aim to correct inequities and, to the best of our ability, redress past wrongs. To those individuals and groups who may have been hurt in the past, through our behavior or as a result of our inaction, we offer this document as a first step towards healing and reconciliation. We understand that forming a more diverse, more inclusive Museum community is a process, and so we further commit to holding ourselves accountable and laboring continuously towards a Museum space that is open, affirming, and intentionally anti-racist.
In writing and publishing this action plan, we further aim to have a positive impact on society at large and in archaeology specifically. We hope through our actions to help make archaeology a more reflexive, responsive, and diverse field. We are committed to nurturing a vibrant intellectual community, one which encourages the free exchange of ideas, and values and will accommodate multiple theoretical perspectives. These action points are drawn from a much longer, more detailed manifesto, presented to the wider UMMAA community by the archaeology graduate students on July 4, 2020. (Note: This action plan is written for public consumption and is not meant in any way to replace the manifesto, which is available here.)
We will do the following:
•Revise the Museum mission statement, and add vision and values statements, meant to present an image of archaeology that is broad, engaged, and inclusive, upholding our commitments to research, teaching, collections care, and outreach, to be posted prominently on the Museum website; individual ranges are encouraged to develop their own vision and mission statements.
•Compose a shared community statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, to be posted prominently on the Museum website.
•Craft a statement in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to be published prominently on the Museum website (to include a declaration of support for LGBTQ and disabled individuals).
•Write, in consultation with Indigenous partners, and post a land acknowledgment statement, pending findings from the College/University committee that is presently studying this issue.
•Create a process and infrastructure to allow members of the Museum community to lodge and mitigate grievances safely and securely, without fear of reprisal; such grievances might include serious allegations relating to racial discrimination and sexual harassment, but might also include concerns about how the Museum and the graduate program operate, e.g., with regard to timely and meaningful mentoring. The grievance process and infrastructure so designed will be subject to annual review by the Museum Executive Committee.
•Effect a hire focusing on Black archaeology.
•Revise staff and faculty hiring procedures in ways that encourage diverse job candidate pools, including but not limited to: adding service, diversity, and outreach work to job descriptions; requiring a diversity statement from candidates; soliciting more graduate student involvement in hiring processes (e.g., in writing the job description, choosing their own representative to the hiring committee).
•Better use of University avenues to hire diverse post-doctoral students, such as the Society of Fellows and Presidential Scholars Program.
•Work to create a more diverse graduate student body, which begins with encouraging a larger, more diverse applicant pool; current graduate students will be given a larger role in the application review process; more guidance and information for prospective students, such as links to application fee waivers, will be placed on the Museum website.
•Given the inequities inherent in standardized tests, the GRE will no longer be required by the archaeology subfield.
•Given the inequities inherent in prospective student visits to the Museum, we will, in general, discourage informal visits and encourage online (Zoom) meetings between prospective students, current graduate students, and curators; we will encourage and, if necessary, try to supplement prospective student participation in the Department of Anthropology’s visit weekend.
•We reassert the importance of mentoring and will work to reinforce and formalize the Museum’s system of curator-student mentoring; proper mentoring is one key to building a safe, welcoming environment. Negative mentoring behaviors, such as a lack of regular meetings or timely feedback, will be addressed through several mechanisms, including but not limited to: mandated meetings to occur at least once a semester; mentor-mentee contracts; faculty feedback to the Director about mentoring activity via curator annual reviews; etc.
•The Museum will develop a formal orientation program for incoming graduate students, to include diversity training, in consultation with current graduate students, BIPOC students in particular.
•The Museum community is strongly committed to assembling a more diverse body of undergraduate archaeology students and majors, upon which the future health of our discipline depends. This can be done by: e.g., diversifying the Archaeology Club; reaching out to diverse student clubs and communities; building connections with other regional universities (such as UM-Dearborn and Wayne State); adding new curricula and course content that is of interest to diverse students; partnering, if possible, with HBCUs in developing and running field schools and field projects; etc. A new Museum committee on undergraduate student diversity will be created.
•The Museum community is strongly committed to public outreach, including work with descendant and Indigenous communities. We will strive to acknowledge the importance of this work to archaeology, to our research, and in the professionalization of archaeology students. This can be done by: e.g., hosting workshops, seminars, and presentations devoted to topics such as decolonization, collaborative research, and writing for the general public; developing courses related to the theories and methodologies of public archaeology; taking university-sponsored community engagement courses; partnering with other University museums (such as the Natural History Museum) and cultural institutions; etc. A new Museum working group devoted to outreach writ large will be created.
•International graduate students are valued and essential members of the Museum community; we will aim to give them better support overall, but in particular when they first arrive in the United States. This can be done by: e.g., investigating ways to help applicants pay for and successfully pass the TOEFL; creating an international graduate student support team; creating and disseminating a packet of resources and information to new international students; finding additional means to support their research, given that they cannot access United States funding opportunities, like NSF; developing an orientation program for new international students specifically, in consultation with current international students. A new Museum working group devoted to supporting international students will be created.
•Develop a new speaker series aimed at Black archaeology [for the 2020-2021 academic year]. A new Museum committee will be created to manage the new speaker series.
•We will aim to open Museum events to a broader, more diverse audience, by: e.g., broadcasting presentations over the Internet; increasing funding to the Brown Bag series; and providing safe, encouraging spaces for minority and beginning scholars to present their work.
•The Museum’s social media accounts will be turned towards promoting and disseminating the work being done in the Museum vis à vis DEI issues; this work will be done by the Museum’s paid GSSA, who will also help implement DEI measures, under the supervision of the Museum Director and in consultation with the Museum’s new social media working group.
•We will hold periodic public meetings in order to discuss issues of concern to the entire community, including but not limited to race and racism. These meetings will also provide opportunities to report both progress made in and impediments to implementing this action plan.
•The Museum Director is committed to sharing the results of the Museum’s recent climate survey, pending input from the Dean.
•The Museum declares its support for the graduate student-led reading group on racism, and encourages all community members to participate.
•The Museum agrees to form an ad hoc committee to review graduate requirements and the graduate curriculum, and to consider carefully the concerns of graduate students about said requirements and curriculum; this committee will include graduate student representation.
•Convene a committee with input from the Dean to revise all policies and procedures related to faculty and staff hiring, mentoring, and promotion.
•A stand-alone DEI webpage will be created for the UMMAA website, meant to present the Museum’s stance on diversity and to facilitate the free exchange of information and ideas.
•Once a year, the Museum will bring in an outside consultant to undertake diversity training.
•BIPOC scholars will be added to the Director’s Advisory Committee.
•The Museum will seek out and purchase institutional memberships inminority professional societies.
•Anti-racist fieldwork guidelines, to accompany the Museum’s sexual harassment and fieldwork guidelines, will be developed.
The curators, staff, and students of UMMAA hereby endorse this plan of action. We also recognize that many of the points of action listed above will require additional work, and will likely change and develop through time. To that end, working groups and committees have been created, which all members of the Museum community are encouraged to join. We consider this plan to be a living, evolving document, one that will guide us in coming years towards a better, stronger, safer, more resilient, truly inclusive Museum.
A timetable will be used to track progress and to hold ourselves accountable. This action plan was adopted by majority vote of the curators, staff, and students of the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology on this day, Monday, July 13, 2020.