Engaged in the current moment, with its challenges and struggles and aspirations, the faculty of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies wish to make three points:
We believe that Black lives matter, that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and innumerable others matter. We believe that their deaths are the result of a system of policing—though not only policing—that has failed in its most basic responsibilities. We believe in the mission to defund the police, including our own university police department.
As scholars of media, we are aware of the importance of moving images to the protests over the past two weeks, as well as the long history of screen representations that have devalued Black lives. We are aware of the role of cell phone videos to the struggle of Black people against police brutality, as a form of visibility and transmission, and of the dangers assumed by those holding the cameras. We are also aware of the contested history of media representation of police and policing agents, from cinema to television to video games. We believe this awareness is a necessary part of how we conceive our work, and how our department orients itself to the community in which it is situated.
As a department deeply committed to the study of Black media, politics, and representation, we believe that we have a unique opportunity and obligation to communicate with our community. We commit ourselves to public events and programs, whether existing projects like the South Side Home Movie Project and the Game Changer Lab or projects we call into being, as a way to learn from and support the political movements that are on the forefront of this struggle. We commit ourselves to producing scholarship that is engaged with and contributes to our understanding about how cinema and media have participated in racism, and how our discipline might further anti-racist movements. We believe in continuing to work to make our department, as one community among many, a place where this ongoing work can take place amongst students, staff, and faculty.
GSU - Graduate Students United
The faculty of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago urges the university administration to recognize Graduate Students United (GSU) as the collective bargaining agent for graduate student workers and enter into good-faith negotiations without delay. In October 2017, the graduate students voted to form a union. We believe that this collective decision should be respected.
We also call upon the administration to refrain from actions that may undermine our graduate worker colleagues’ rights to organize or their freedom of expression, including: retaliation against graduate workers or picketers; attempts to replace graduate student labor; efforts to track participation or non-participation in the action; or any threats thereof.
We encourage our faculty colleagues to join us in this stance.