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Graduate School of Design students hung banners denouncing sexual misconduct in the school’s main workspace last week in response to the recent circulation of an anonymous spreadsheet accusing prominent GSD affiliates of inappropriate sexual and racist acts.
The “Shitty Architecture Men” spreadsheet, created last month and still publicly available online, contains a list of anonymous accounts of sexual misconduct and bigoted acts allegedly perpetrated by men in the architecture field. The sheet includes accusations against at least 18 GSD students, faculty, and administrators, including current Design School Dean Mohsen Mostafavi and former chair of the school’s Department of Architecture Iñaki Ábalos.
The spreadsheet is now “temporarily closed,” according to a message posted by the list’s administrators in the past few days.
The installation, which debuted last Friday, currently hangs in the Design School’s Gund Hall, a large, airy space that houses studios and offices for approximately 500 students and more than 100 faculty and staff. Lining all five levels of the hall, the banners display messages of support for those who have experienced sexual assault and assert students stand united against sexual misconduct at the school.
“We, student leaders, stand united in response to misconduct,” reads one banner.
“This cannot end in conversation. This must end in action,” reads another.
Still another: “We will not allow the GSD to stand silent to injustice.”
As of Wednesday, 22 student groups had hung banners in Gund Hall asserting the organizations “will not stand silent.”
Natasha H. Hicks and Lena M. Ferguson, GSD students and leaders of the African American Student Union and the Harvard Urban Planning Organization, respectively, directed these efforts in collaboration with other student organizations like the Student Forum, a student governance body, and Women in Design.
“A core message behind the installation is unity,” Hicks and Ferguson wrote in a joint emailed statement. “We wanted to make clear that we as student leaders stand together in our dedication to cultural change.”
Hicks and Ferguson wrote they thought it was “important” students installed the banners Friday—the same day the Design School held an admitted students open house.
“We wanted to send a message to incoming students that there is a student community here at the GSD committed to changing the toxic culture,” the two wrote. “We wanted to extend an invitation to those admitted students to come and help us continue to demand for institutional and cultural change.”
In a statement provided Wednesday by GSD spokesperson Travis Dagenais, Design School Executive Dean Patricia Roberts wrote the installation represents “the type of expression” the school encourages from students.
“At the GSD, we are working hand in hand with students and other offices across the University to maintain an open dialogue and take constructive steps to address these issues collectively,” Roberts wrote.
Phillip R. Denny, a Ph.D. student at the GSD, said he thinks it is “inspiring” to see students take the lead in speaking out against inappropriate behavior.
“It’s tremendously inspiring to see student leaders craft a statement of principle and to declare them so prominently and so publicly,” Denny said. “It really speaks to the belief that positive change is only going to come about if we all hold each other accountable as a community.”
—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @a_achaidez.
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