President Samuel Hoi

Strengthening Our Resolution

An August 16, 2017 statement from President Samuel Hoi on the removal of Confederate statues:

Early this morning while most of us slept, the Confederate statue, "Winged Angel/Soldier," was taken down by city workers from Mt. Royal Avenue in MICA's Bolton Hill neighborhood—a decisive action by Mayor Catherine Pugh to remove this and three other Confederate monuments in Baltimore.

MICA fully endorses this action by the City of Baltimore. Although this statue was not on our property, it stood in the middle of our campus and unavoidably impacted our community. The statue carries a part of American history and culture that represents an intolerable philosophy of racism and the subjugation of one group of human beings by another. As such, it serves as a symbol of exclusion, division and hate that runs counter to MICA's core values, as well as our aspirations for our City and for the nation.

MICA views the statue's removal as a necessary and well-justified action considering the contextual change for this particular cultural object since its historical origin. While the removal makes many of us feel vindicated and more respected, let's not forget that it's just a symbolic act. The real efforts lie in our being vigilant about what democracy means, living our individual beliefs and values with full respect for and appreciation of everyone around us.

Over the last several days, I have been weighed down by the violence that occurred in Charlottesville and what is at risk in our nation. Those feelings, I know, are shared and stated by many on campus-and reverberate throughout our City, this country and around the world. As a socially engaged art and design school, we are a creative community that thrives on the liberty of expression and strongly believe in the democratic tenets of our country. We are for freedom of speech. We are for the right of assembly. We are for the protection of artistic objects. We advocate for the open exchange of work and ideas, even—perhaps especially—provocative ideas. And we engage in dialogue and discussion to promote understanding, not censorship. But there is no question that we stand unambiguously and vehemently against bigotry, racial hatred, and violence.

What provides solace and hope to me, and I hope to you as well, is that we at MICA relate to each other and do our work in a campus environment that shares a common and powerful commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

During the past school year, the entire MICA community worked together to examine the essence of who we are and how we should evolve forward, and re-articulated MICA's Mission and Vision Statements. Our new statements proclaim our purpose to educate "in a diverse and changing word," to "thrive with Baltimore" and to "make the world we imagine." That world we envision is a "just, sustainable, and joyful world activated and enriched by artists, designers, and educators..." These words underscore our commitment and optimism, even at this difficult, historical moment.

Furthermore, this fall, the Presidential Task Force on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Globalization (DEIG) will conclude its two-year term and present a draft of its final report. The community feedback process will present more opportunities for us to figure out together how best to fully honor and realize our DEIG values as a college.

The important symbolic removal of a Confederate statue in our midst has served to strengthen our resolution to reach strongly and deeply into every aspect of MICA for a future that embraces and inspires us all.