Theatre dept. forms diversity task force

The group will likely begin meeting this fall.

Kia Farhang


When Carl Flink sat down with students and faculty in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance last month to talk about diversity, he did so with an open mind.

“We set up this loose structure and asked the students to respond,” the department chair said.

After two sessions, the department decided to start a task force — made up mainly of students — to tackle the issue of diversity in theater, Flink said.

“We want it to be a student-driven organization,” he said.

The task force is still in early phases, he said, and will likely start meeting in the fall.

“They’re really trying to find what the student body is missing or what could be added to what’s already there,” said Jared Zeigler, a theatre arts senior.

Bijan Riahi, a theatre arts senior, said the task force should work on bringing students from outside the major into the discussions.

“The whole point of theater is for somebody else to see it,” he said. “They need to start going to the public, to U of M students, and asking them what they want to see.”

Flink said the department partners with outside organizations like Project SUCCESS to increase interest in the program.

 But “in some ways,” he added, “we haven’t been good about making visible these really strong efforts that we’ve made.”

The task force is designed to enhance the impact the student body can have on their curriculum, Zeigler said.

“It empowers us as students,” he said, “and gives us a sense of importance and ownership of [the program].”