I am sharing this statement on behalf of a cross-section of graduate students in the Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology (MHTE) at the University of North Texas, the department which is responsible for publishing the Journal of Schenkerian Studies (JSS).
We are appalled by the journal's platforming of racist sentiments in response to Dr. Philip Ewell's plenary address at the Society of Music Theory annual meeting in 2019. Furthermore, we condemn the egregious statements written by UNT faculty members within this publication.
We stand in solidarity with Dr. Philip Ewell and his goals to address systemic racism in and beyond the field of music theory.
As graduate students at UNT, we are compelled to provide further context and to demand action to effect meaningful change. We would like to make it clear that the JSS is not a graduate student journal; since 2010 (Vol. 4), it has been run primarily by Drs. Timothy Jackson ...
and Stephen Slottow. Many of us recently discovered that the journal is presented as graduate-student run in some contexts; in fact, there is little student involvement beyond copy-editing, and students have absolutely no say in the content of the JSS.
In fact, outside of the advisory board (and in particular Dr. Jackson), we have no clear understanding of who oversaw the publication of the responses to the plenary session. As we join the search for answers to these issues, we will be working both publicly and privately to ...
change every part of the MHTE Division and College of Music (CoM) at UNT that allowed faculty to platform racism in our name.
To this end, we as UNT graduate students demand the Journal of Schenkerian Studies should immediately take the following steps, and we call on the UNT College of Music and university at large to ensure these steps are taken.
1. Publicly condemn the issue and release it freely online to the public.
Given the horrendous lack of peer review, publication of an anonymous response, and clear lack of academic rigor, this issue of the JSS should release an apology for its content and promote transparency ...
by granting the public access to it. We believe that all contributors should be held fully accountable for their comments, which must not be hidden for the sake of the self-preservation of any involved parties. Furthermore, we must learn from these mistakes rather than ...
attempt to erase them. By making this volume accessible to the public with a disclaimer from the CoM, we hope to enable all scholars to address this problematic “discourse.”
2. Provide a full public account of the editorial and publication process, and its failures.
Throughout the publication of this issue, significant irregularities occurred in the acceptance and solicitation processes, whether individuals with the title of editor were permitted ...
to edit content, and how the contents of Issue 12 were approved by any responsible oversight process. JSS must make a public account of the process so individuals who intentionally subverted academic discourse can be held accountable by their respective institutions.
We also call on the University of North Texas and the UNT College of Music to take the following actions. @UNTCoM @UNTsocial
1) Dissolve the JSS.
The JSS has demonstrated that it does not meet the standards of a peer-reviewed publication. The publication of this issue demonstrates that the JSS, through its subversion of academic processes, is not in fact peer-reviewed and lacks rigor. ...
The basis of academic discourse is trust and authenticity, and the JSS has violated that trust. Without accountability and responsible scholarship, there is no reason for it to exist.
2) Critically examine the culture in UNT, the CoM, and the MHTE Division, and act to change our culture.
UNT has gained a reputation as an institution with a toxic culture when it comes to issues of race, gender, and other aspects of diversity. Although we would like to ...
imagine that these problems are behind us, the JSS has proven that our department’s culture remains toxic, and it needs to change. While we as graduate students are working to change the culture, the university must be a part of the solution. If institutional inertia impedes ...
this change, UNT and the College of Music are a part of the problem, not the solution.
3) Hold accountable every person responsible for the direction of the publication.
This will involve recognizing both whistleblowers and those who failed to heed them in this process. This should also extend to investigating past bigoted behaviors by faculty and, by taking ...
this into account, the discipline and potential removal of faculty who used the JSS platform to promote racism. Specifically, the actions of Dr. Jackson—both past and present—are particularly racist and unacceptable.
We sincerely apologize to Dr. Philip Ewell for these racist attacks on his scholarship and character. We firmly support Dr. Ewell, and his call to critically examine the racial frameworks in which Schenkerian analysis and other theories were developed.
We gratefully acknowledge the push for inclusion and diversity in academia, and his continued work for diversity and anti-racism in the field of music theory, which he advocated for in his 2019 SMT plenary address.
In the weeks, months, and years ahead, we will strive to change the toxic culture at UNT. We recognize that this will be difficult work, and we are prepared to fight for inclusivity now and in the future.
You can follow @RachelGainMusic.
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