Answers to commonly asked questions

Below you will find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about diversity, inclusion, and equity at MECA&D. For more information or to suggest additional content, email diversity@meca.edu.

How do you define diversity and inclusion?
Diversity: The term diversity is used to describe individual differences (e.g. life experiences, learning and working styles, personality types) and group/social differences (e.g. race, socioeconomic status, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, ability, intellectual traditions and perspectives, as well as cultural, political, religious, and other affiliations) that can be engaged to achieve excellence in teaching, learning, research, scholarship, and administrative and support services.

Inclusion: The term inclusion is used to describe the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity -- in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (e.g. intellectual, social, cultural, geographic) with which individuals might connect.

(Source: The Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement at the George Washington University)

What is equity?
Improving equity is to promote justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the underlying or root causes of outcome disparities within our society.

(Source: National Academy of Program Administrators)

Why is MECA&D focusing on diversity?
Diversity is part of Maine College of Art & Design’s institutional mission and strategic plan. It strengthens our learning community and cultivates an environment that prepares students to thrive in a diverse and global world. Diversity is integral to the academic experience and essential to fostering an inclusive culture defined by respect, equity, and social responsibility. These principles serve as catalysts for MECA&D students, faculty, staff, and trustees to become the critically engaged citizens upon whom our world depends.

Diverse community partnerships guides Maine College of Art & Design in its role as an arts institution in the state’s most diverse city. Actively seeking to know and collaborate deeply with people with diverse perspectives implores us to reach beyond and invite people into our institution.

How is MECA&D addressing diversity?
MECA&D is taking a multi-tiered approach to addressing issues of diversity on campus through training, programming, discourse, and strategic planning. For more information, review MECA&D's current Diversity Initiatives.

What resources are available to help me learn more about diversity?
Check out the Arts, as well as the Curriculum & Higher Education, section of this website for more information. To suggest a resource contact diversity@meca.edu.

Where can I learn more about cultural appropriation?
Cultural appropriation is defined as the "theft of cultural elements for one’s own use, commodification, or profit—including symbols, art, language, customs, etc.—often without understanding, acknowledgement, or respect for its value in the original culture. Results from the assumption of a dominant (i.e. white) culture’s right to take other cultural elements."

Cultural appropriation can be a sensitive and contentious topic with a range of differing views. There isn’t always a clear cut answer. Much of what makes us skilled artists and academics, can also help us approach cultural appropriation from a thoughtful and respectful place: maintain a lens of critical inquiry and reflect on the intent and context of a work. You can read more about the current discourse around cultural appropriation and the arts in an Artforum roundtable article* from 2017. For additional resources visit the Arts, as well as the Curriculum & Higher Education, section.

*(Please request access from above link)
(Source: Colors of Resistance Archive)

How can I become more comfortable having conversations about diversity?
Read the resources available in the Arts, as well as the Curriculum & Higher Education, section of this website. Participate in a training session with facilitators from an educational organization such as Community Change Inc. Contemplate your own attitudes about diversity, inclusion, and equity, and seek out opportunities to attend events with diverse perspectives. Engaging in conversations around diversity can be both uncomfortable and incredibly rewarding. There is a well-known saying in this field that encourages individuals to “step up, step back, and listen.” Step up to support diversity, step back to allow voices that are often marginalized to be heard, and most importantly reflect on the information being shared.

How can I share feedback, make recommendations, or ask questions about diversity at MECA&D?
The Diversity Committee welcomes any questions and feedback. We may be reached at diversity@meca.edu.