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Student Manifesto and Action Plan

On July 4, 2020, the UMMAA graduate student community submitted to Museum faculty and administration a Graduate Student Manifesto, which was drafted in response to calls for racial justice articulated by the Black Lives Matter movement. On July 9, 2020, UMMAA graduate students, faculty, and staff met to discuss a Black Lives Matter (BLM)/Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan proposed in response to the manifesto, which was voted on and accepted on July 13, 2020.

This action plan contains a list of changes that UMMAA graduate students, faculty, and staff are working to enact within our Museum. Our central goal is to create a Museum that is safe, supportive, and welcoming to all people, most especially Black and Indigenous individuals and People of Color (BIPOC) and which nurtures a vibrant intellectual community that encourages the free exchange of ideas and exploration of diverse theoretical perspectives. With this document, we hope to lead the way in creating a more diverse and equitable environment, not just in our Museum, but within anthropology more broadly.


Click these links to read our Student Manifesto and original UMMAA Black Lives Matter/Diversity Equity Inclusion Action Plan in full (updates to Action Plan items are below) and see our timetable for action.  

UMMAA Action Plan Items

  • 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. Update: Final drafts were approved in 2021. 
  • Compose a shared community statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, to be posted prominently on the Museum website.  Update: Final draft was approved in 2021.
  • 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). 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. This action plan is written for public consumption and is not meant in any way to replace the Manifesto, which is available HEREUpdate: Final draft was approved in 2021.
  • 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. Update: Final draft was approved in 2021.
  • 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. Update: Final draft was approved by the UMMAA Executive Committee in 2021. A feedback form is posted on the UMMAA website here, and a direct link to the form is here
  • Effect a “target of opportunity” hire focused on Black archaeology. Update: completed in 2021 - more information forthcoming!
  • 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). Update: Procedures have been completed and approved for staff, and is in process for faculty.
  • Better use University avenues to hiring diverse post-doctoral students, such as the Society of Fellows and Presidential Scholars Program. Update: This has been completed. Diverse candidates applied to both programs and results are pending. An African scholar is coming in 2022 through the African Studies 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. Update: This is currently being discussed in the Department of Anthropology and UMMAA, and remains in process.  A link to application fee waivers is posted on the Department of Anthropology's website (Prospective Student section) and a link is also on the UMMAA website. Completed in 2021. A graduate student rep is added to the Archaeology admissions process. 
  • Given the inequities inherent in standardized tests, the GRE will no longer be required by the archaeology subfield. Update: Completed in 2021.
  • 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. Update: Discussed amongst the curators, approved in principle.
  • 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. Update: Concerns about mentoring are being actively addressed in the Department of Anthropology (new Triad Mentoring System) and in UMMAA (active discussion taking place in the Ad Hoc Graduate Curriculum Committee). A new policy document was approved in 2021, available here
  • 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. Update: Will be developed by Winter 2021. Orientation planning is underway, chaired by R. Garvey.
  • 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. Update: This is all in process. The Undergraduate Working Group has taken several steps to address these concerns. Several curators participated in the Department of Anthropology's Book Camp for prospective students. M. Galaty sits on the new national "Archaeology Centers Group" committee, designed to directly address undergraduate diversity in Archaeology. 
  • 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. Update: The Outreach Working Group is actively addressing all of these issues. 
  • 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. Update: The International Student Working Group has done much of this work already, with more to come. 
  • 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. Update: This has been done by the Speakers Working Group. Six speakers participated in the new seminar series, Winter 2021.
  • 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. Update: This has been done with Zoom, and will wnsure this continues post-pandemic. 
  • The Museum’s social media accounts will be turned towards promoting and disseminating the work being done in the Museum via 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. Update: This has been done by the current GSSA, in collaboration with the 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. Update: done.
  • The Museum Director is committed to sharing the results of the Museum’s recent climate survey, pending input from the Dean. Update: Done, with plans for focus groups and two workshops in Winter 2021, to be led by external experts. Focus groups completed, report was received, climate workshops were moved to Fall 2021. A workshop on Antiracist Pedagogies was held in April, 2021.
  • The Museum declares its support for the graduate student-led reading group on racism, and encourages all community members to participate. Update: Done, and will continue in 2021-2022.
  • 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. Update: The committee met every two weeks during Winter 2021, and will continue meeting 2021-2022.
  • Convene a committee with input from the Dean to revise all policies and procedures related to faculty and staff hiring, mentoring, and promotion. Update: With input from the Dean's Office, by laws are being writtin by M. Galaty and A. Rundquist. 
  • 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. Update: Drafted by GSSA and currently being vetted. Vetting complete and should go live by the end of summer 2021.
  • Once a year, the Museum will bring in an outside consultant to undertake diversity training. Update: Planned for Winter 2021. Completed in April, 2021.
  • BIPOC scholars will be added to the Director’s Advisory Committee. Update: The committee met in November 2020 and agreed to add diverse members ASAP. 
  • The Museum will seek out and purchase institutional memberships in minority professional societies. Update: Done. Institutional membership to The Society of Black Archaeologists. 
  • Anti-racist fieldwork guidelines, to accompany the Museum’s sexual harassment and fieldwork guidelines, will be developed. Update: Pushed to 2021-2022. A page on the UMMAAEvolves website will be devoted to preventing sexual harrassment in the field.