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Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of Music

About the Diversity and Inclusion Work Group

We present and promote initiatives such that students, staff, and faculty of all identities feel welcome and empowered to thrive in our department.

We are a group of representatives drawn from all disciplines within the Department of Music. If you would like to propose ideas or events, please get in touch with us hereWe would love to hear from you!

In addition to work within our respective disciplines, we also organize and sponsor department-wide events. Please contact us if you would like more information or to request slides and related resources.

Previous Diversity Events

A Room of One’s Own: The Independent Studios of Women Making Electronic and Computer Music
February 25, 2019
Co-sponsored by the Music Studies Journal Club, CCRMA Journal Club, and Diversity and Inclusion work group.

Madison Heying (Ph.D. candidate, UC Santa Cruz) presented a paper on women composers and inventors who have been marginalized in, then excluded from their institutional bases. Madison traced the careers of three practitioners — Daphne Oram (1925–2003), Wendy Carlos (b. 1939), and Carla Scaletti (b. 1956) — enriching our understanding of the implicit and explicit processes perpetuating discrimination within larger electronic and computer music studios. Borrowing Nirmal Puwar’s phrase, Madison demonstrated how these women were considered “space invaders”— “strangers in the very institutions that served as professional and creative havens for their male counterparts.” Leaving these institutions to establish independent endeavors ultimately provided these women with the “aesthetic, technical, and social freedom that enabled them to thrive.”

After the paper, we had a productive round table discussion concerning strategies to ensure the institutions we participate in are welcoming and inclusive spaces. Graduate students from all the departmental sub-disciplines shared their ideas and experiences, including best practices for syllabus design, teaching, application language and materials, training, feedback and evaluation processes, and more.

Music Course Design and Decolonization
October 18, 2018

The Graduate Music Studies Forum presented a workshop in collaboration with the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning. In this session, Kritika Yegnashankaran (Associate Director, Faculty and Lecturer Programs, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning — Educational Programs) led us through some basic principles of course design and a discussion of what it means to decolonize university-level music courses. Participants workshopped their own music syllabus, and received group feedback, to practice putting these principles in action.

Recognizing and Responding to Microaggressions
April 20, 2018

For our spring 2018 event, Meag-gan O’Reilly, Ph.D. (Staff Psychologist and Community Outreach Coordinator, Counseling and Psychological Services, Vaden Health Center), led a workshop on microaggressions. She worked closely with members of our department to guarantee that the event was constructively tailored to our context.  

Meag-gan presented an overview of the topic, including the impact and effects of microaggressions. She outlined potential options when responding to microaggressions, as well as reminding our community of the resources and support available at Stanford. We then engaged in role play scenarios, drawing upon situations that may occur within musical settings. They guided us toward greater awareness of microaggressions we may be enacting, while also helping us to work through strategies for dealing with microaggressions, if we are the recipients. The discussion that followed these scenarios was productive and supportive, ensuring that all present were better equipped to recognize and respond to microaggressions in the future.

What can I say? Responding to microaggressions

  • “I don’t think you intended it this way, but when you said [microaggression], I felt/heard…”
  • “I know you didn’t mean it this way, but some might have interpreted your statement to mean X, because of stereotypes about [group]”
  • “I didn’t interpret it this way, but others might have mistakenly thought you meant... Is there another way you could express what you were trying to say?”
  • “Do you have a few minutes to talk? I want to share how something you said/did has lingered in me over the past few days.”
  • “This relationship is important to me, and if you were feeling like I am right now, I would want you to tell me. Can we talk about something that happened?”
  • “I was talking with some students about the lecture/class/discussion today. Can I share something with you?”

Undoing Racism
March 9, 2018

Co-sponsored by TAPS, IDA, Music

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) led a workshop on the dynamics of structural/systemic racism within communities—positing a framework generally applicable to the performing arts.

We brainstormed features of marginalized, oppressed, and disenfranchised communities: poverty, violence, pollution, housing insecurity, underemployment, labor exploitation, inadequate resources, exclusion from decision-making, stigma, etc. We discussed dominant-culture rationales and stereotypes by which marginalized people and communities appear to deserve their condition.

We discussed the denial and erasure of histories behind inequality, including settler colonialism, violence, land dispossession, labor exploitation, zoning, definitions of merit, stereotyping and pathologizing of people/communities of color. Several participants brought up Stanford as an example of an institution built upon and perpetuating inequality, and the tensions between its history and its progressive identity and mission.

The Myth of Meritocracy
November 7, 2017

During this town hall, CCRMA Ph.D. student Irán Roman gave a presentation debunking meritocracy. He discussed numerous studies which address discrimination, implicit bias, stereotype threat, and exclusion on the basis of gender and race.  

Galvanized by Irán’s presentation, we then all broke out into small group discussion, where we identified issues requiring our attention as a Department, as well as goals for us to all work towards. Numerous actionable items resulted from the subsequent reports, including mentoring, outreach, recruitment, and curriculum focused initiatives.

Diversity and Inclusion in Music
May 2, 2017

This inaugural event featured a presentation by Rania Sanford, Ed.D. (Assistant Vice Provost of Faculty Development and Diversity). The presentation discussed the benefits of diversity, citing academic articles while also presenting statistics from music departments across the country with regard to the representation of women and people of color on faculty. Additionally, Rania was able to give our department a wholistic look at strategies and initiatives Stanford University is putting into practice to address problems related to diversity across campus. She discussed the nature of institutional change at Stanford, challenges in hiring and retention, as well as common best practices that have proven successful in diversity and inclusion efforts.

We also heard from Joseph Brown (Graduate Diversity Recruitment Officer, Graduate and Undergraduate Studies). Joseph presented a flash briefing on microaggressions, with helpful definitions and examples, after which a conversation among all participants touched upon issues specific to this department and potential solutions.