School of Music students call for dean’s removal in open letter

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DePaul School of Music

DePaul's School of Music, located in Lincoln Park.

In an open letter to President A. Gabriel Esteban, students called for the removal of Ronald Caltabiano, the dean of DePaul’s School of Music, citing a disregard for student feedback and “ineffectiveness in creating a safe space for students of color” over the past four years under his leadership. 

The 10-page letter, written by members of the Student Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion at DePaul’s School of Music, references a June student survey about Caltabiano and his performance stating that after receiving no positive feedback in “nearly one-hundred submissions,” the coalition has “no confidence” in the dean moving forward. 

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Today we take the first steps in dismantling systemic racism and discrimination in DePaul’s School of Music. At 1:03pm on 7/31/2020 The Coalition sent an Open Letter (a link to the full letter can be found within our survey linked on our page bio) to President Amado Gabriel Estabon and his staff, the Provost Office at DePaul, as well as the entire School of Music Staff, Faculty, Administration and the Executive Committee. Above are some excerpts from our 10 page Open Letter. Help us #decolonizeDePaulSoM by signing our Google Form linked in our bio to show support on our movement. Please share and tag @depaulsom to raise awareness and spread this message! We plead to President Estabon to hear our voices and work with this coalition to be on the right side of history. This is only the first step in creating an institution in which all students can be proud to attend. Thank you again for your support thus far in our movement. Stay Safe and Much Love! #decolonize #depaul #depaulschoolofmusic #BAM Direct Link to the full Open Letter: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nrEMv-AoJOGg9b4pQdDS2FFQP7yjJwfR/view?usp=sharing

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The letter further calls for Esteban and the School of Music Executive Committee “to begin dismantling institutional inequality and dedicate itself to anti-racism” through the dismissal of Caltabiano and the establishment of a Diversity Mentor within the school to “improve the social culture towards equity and inclusion.” 

In support of Caltabiano’s dismissal, the coalition cites a June 3 virtual forum in which the DePaul School of Music Executive Committee, led by Caltabiano, were to address student concerns regarding diversity and inclusion amid the protests and growing nationwide unrest regarding the murder of George Floyd and many others at the hands of police. 

According to the letter, during the call Caltabiano showed a “lack of sensitivity and understanding” regarding the concerns of Black students and was ultimately “unprepared to lead this forum and lacked the empathy to fully comprehend the experiences of his students of color.”

The open letter is the latest of student efforts to address issues of racial injustice within the university. Former members of DePaul’s Phi Mu chapter recently took to social media to address issues of racism within the sorority. Additionally, a Coalition for Racial Justice was formed in June in response to the multiple tenure denials and firing of Lisa Calvente, who many believed was a victim of racial discrimination. 

Editor’s note: The DePaulia has reached out to Dean Ronald Calatabiano and is awaiting comment. We will continue to update this story as it develops.