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Anti-Racist Action Plan Update Summer 2021

UW School of Drama Anti-Racist Action Plan
Summer 2021 Update

This is the third update on the UW School of Drama’s work toward becoming an anti-racist theatre training institution. You can read the original Anti-Racist Action Plan (June 2020) as well as previous updates here.

If you have a question about this work that is not addressed in this update, please email or use the anonymous feedback form.

 In the UW School of Drama’s Anti-Racist Action Plan of June 2020, we stated:

“Committing ourselves to anti-racist practices is integral to accomplishing our mission of training artists and scholars poised to be the creative leaders of tomorrow. This work must be embedded in everything we do, from teaching and mentoring, to hiring and budgeting, to planning curriculum and producing plays. Meaningful, substantive change will require all of us—faculty, staff, and students—to interrogate our priorities and be willing to shift and reorganize around our stated values in ways that may feel deeply uncomfortable to those of us who are accustomed to having our needs, preferences, sensibilities, and stories centered.”

This spring and summer, the school has been creating a strategic plan that will guide our work over the next four years. In this process, we are centering the commitment described above—to embed anti-racist practices into everything we do. We look forward to sharing this strategic plan in the fall. We recognize that we have a powerful opportunity and responsibility to model for our students what an equitable, sustainable, and humane theatre industry can look like.


In the Anti-Racist Action Plan, we acknowledged the need for a comprehensive structure for students, faculty, and staff of all identities to voice complaints, solicit support, seek clarification, and bring concerns to effective resolution. The first step in addressing this need was to institute a clear and transparent process for voicing concerns. This process has been in place since the fall of 2020.

The next crucial step in addressing this need is to provide support and training for those in the school who are most likely to be on the receiving end of concerns.

We have spent the 2020-2021 academic year working with UW’s Professional and Organizational Development team to create a training module for faculty, staff, and students in positions of responsibility about receiving concerns. After completing the first draft of the training module, we received feedback from students, faculty, and staff, and integrated that feedback into the training.

Beginning in the fall of 2021, all faculty, staff, and students in positions of responsibility (such as student employees, stage managers, and deputies) will be required to complete this training. The training covers topics such as: The climate and culture that the School of Drama strives to create, how to identify and address different types of concerns, the appropriate channels for communicating and elevating concerns based on the receiver’s role within the school, resources and support structures that are in place both within the School of Drama and within the university for those reporting and those receiving concerns, and where to turn when a concern reveals a need that you have for additional training, conversation, or support. Those who reviewed the training reported that they felt more confident in their ability to effectively address concerns.

We believe that the implementation of this training will contribute to a culture in which all members of our learning community can thrive. We recognize that such a culture must be built on a sense of emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. The ability to safely and productively seek support around challenging situations is a key component of building a learning community in which everyone can experience a sense of belonging.


In the Anti-Racist Action Plan, we stated a commitment to addressing structural racism in our hiring.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, we conducted two faculty searches. During both of these searches, we implemented multiple strategies to increase the diversity of applicant pools (these strategies are described in section 3 of the Anti-Racist Action Plan). The percentage of applicants self-identifying as Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color increased from 15% during our 2019-2020 faculty searches to 35% during our 2020-2021 faculty searches.

We are implementing the same strategies for staff searches. However, we do not have access to demographic data on applicants for staff positions. We are committed to diversifying our staff and are considering methods of evaluating the diversity of candidate pools that do not violate candidate privacy.

In addition to the strategies outlined in the Anti-Racist Action Plan, all faculty and staff position descriptions now contain the following language: “Our faculty and staff are expected to understand and embrace our commitment to respecting and representing diverse ideas, races, genders, sexualities, abilities, cultures, religions, and traditions, and to interrupt behaviors that hinder our work towards anti-racism and our diversity and inclusion efforts.” 


In the Anti-Racist Action Plan, we acknowledged the need for the school to act swiftly to provide needed support for BIPOC/global majority* members of our learning community, while simultaneously pursuing longer-term structural change.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, we piloted a mentorship program that matched interested BIPOC/global majority graduate students with external BIPOC/global majority mentors. The purpose of this mentorship program is to provide BIPOC/global majority students with access to mentors of color who can help them navigate white supremacist systems and structures both within our school and in the wider theatre industry. During this 2020-2021 school year, nine BIPOC/global majority graduate students opted in to the mentorship program.

This school year we also began the process of building a mentorship program for BIPOC/global majority undergraduates. We contracted Sara Porkalob as an external consultant to help develop this program. During spring quarter, Sara conducted three gatherings with BIPOC/global majority undergraduates, with the goal of building relationships and gaining a better understanding of these students’ needs, hopes, and ideas for the program.

Based on these conversations, Sara will lead a panel this fall with BIPOC/global majority theatre professionals. She will also generate further recommendations for ongoing programming in support of BIPOC/global majority undergraduates. Students who participated in the spring gatherings but have since graduated will be invited to attend the panel as alumni participants.


In the Anti-Racist Action Plan, we committed to decentering whiteness in our production laboratories as well as in our classrooms. In the upcoming season, two of the four plays are written by BIPOC/global majority playwrights. We extend our gratitude to the season selection committee—a group of students, staff, and faculty—for their leadership in shaping this season.


Members of the Drama community—primarily faculty and staff in positions of responsibility—have been participating in a learning cohort led by Huayruro. This process is designed to develop fluency, trust, and understanding in discussions of race and racism, in order to increase our capacity for anti-racist action as individuals and as an institution. We believe that this cohort is the most effective way to ensure that anti-racism is infusing all decision-making in the school, as opposed to having anti-racism work siloed in one committee or task force. This year’s circle has been deeply impactful and helped to further our individual and collective capacity to show up in this work in a way that causes less harm to ourselves and to others. We expect to expand our work with Huayruro next year.

There will be opportunities in the coming academic year for all members of our learning community to continue to engage with anti-racist learning and practice. We plan to share more details about these opportunities in the coming year.

*What is “global majority” and why are we using it? White people are not the demographic majority of people on our planet. Terms like “people of color,” “non-white,” and “minority” still center whiteness as the norm. This is why we are beginning to incorporate the term “global majority” into our discussions. We extend huge gratitude to Nicole Brewer for introducing us to this new language and the new way of seeing that it invites.