Affirmative action in theater? Students 'demand' roles for Black actors, professor's resignation
BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance is calling for a theater professor's resignation over the department's curriculum.
The student group is also demanding a casting quota for Black actors.
A student organization at the College of Wooster is calling for the school to apply affirmative action to its theater productions.
The BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) has written a list of demands for the university, which according to The Wooster Voice, include having:
“At least one department play yearly that is BIPOC written or starring a BIPOC student (this student should not be the only BIPOC student in the cast) in one of its leading roles. This can also be fulfilled by student productions that are treated like main stage productions. The department must show a vested interest in BIPOC work.”
Additionally, the students demand that Shirley Huston-Findley, a professor of theater and dance, resign “from department chair until further substantial equality education is reached and the DEI plan is completed.”
[RELATED: Citing their ‘feelings,’ university theater students rail against play selection]
BIPOC PAA also expects a “public and formal apology for inflicted harm and racism against our BIPOC students on behalf of Huston-Findley.”
The demands do not specify what “harm” was committed by the department or Huston-Findley.
BIPOC PAA’s demands relate back to “The Black Manifesto,” which appeared on Wooster’s campus a few weeks prior.
Campus Reform reported that “The Black Manifesto” demanded higher pay for Black professors, more financial aid and scholarships for Black students, as well as the Wooster Police Department be “held accountable” for protecting “hate speech.”
[RELATED: Harvard created ‘exclusive space’ for ‘Black-identifying audience members’ by basing theater admissions on race]
Victoria Silva, co-president of BIPOC PAA, co-wrote a public letter Oct. 29 in response to “The Black Manifesto.” In the letter, Silva praised the flyers and accused Wooster of “inflicting traumas in their most marginalized and vulnerable students.”
As with the list of demands, Silva’s letter did not provide any examples of “the way that whiteness permeates even the most creative of fields, silencing minority voices in the name of upholding archaic systems riddled with white power structures, bias, and discrimination that support racism,” which she claimed impacted the school’s campus.
Campus Reform reached out to BIPOC PAA, the College of Wooster, and Shirley Huston-Findley for comment; this article will be updated shortly.