As architecture programs across the country are talking explicitly about racism and the prioritizing of white histories and practices, students and alumni of Yale School of Architecture (YSOA) have launched a new initiative to document the school’s disparities. The Visibility Project presents the results of questions posed to current and former students about their experiences with biases and prejudices at the school alongside demographic data about the school’s award and fellowship winners.
The project’s data reveal a variety of discrepancies between genders, races, and ethnicities in how people experience the school and in how likely students are to receive recognition and opportunities. The project is browsable on its website visibility-project.org.
The project was organized and executed by Lilly Agutu, Pik-Tone Fung, Sarah Kim, Araceli Lopez, Christine Pan, Liwei Wang, Betty Wang, Iris You, Christina Zhang, and Jessica Zhou.
Based on its findings, the group presented nine recommendations to YSOA’s dean Deborah Berke and the school’s associate deans:
Issue a statement of solidarity from the administration for this project.
Ask all faculty to engage with and reflect on this study.
Make sensitivity training mandatory for faculty members.
Work with EiD [Equity in Design] & NOMAS [National Organization of Minority Architecture Students] to diversify the curriculum.
Provide more support and resources to international students, especially those who don’t use English as their primary language.
Implement better systems of resource distribution, such as a fair and transparent process for teaching fellowships and graduation awards.
Address the problematic faculty behavior identified in the survey.
Establish a timeline for increasing BIPOC faculty to 50% in the core studio sequence.
Provide sustained financial support for student groups dedicated to equality and social justice.
Since receiving letters from the Visibility Project and other student and alumni groups, Berke published an open letter outlining steps that she and the school will take to address diversity, equity, and inclusion.