By incorporating the voices of students, faculty and elected representatives, SF State’s murals have had a long-standing reputation of brazen social justice advocacy and demand for cultural visibility.
“Approving a mural at SF State is a multi-step process structured to involve students and reflect campus passions,” said Associated Students, Inc.’s College of Liberal and Creative of Arts representative Forest Klein.
One example of campus passion is empowering marginalized groups through social justice, according to Klein.
The existing murals on the exterior of the Cesar Chavez Student Center feature portraits of activists like Malcolm X, Edward Said and Cesar Chavez as well as symbolic elements of cultural pride, exemplified by the Filipino Community Mural, the Asian and Pacific Islander Mural and the Native American Community Mural.
The process for any group interested in dedicating a mural begins with a proposal submission to ASI’s Board of Directors, according Klein. He said the board then assembles an ad hoc committee of student officers and select faculty members specializing in the art and subject matter of the of the proposed mural.
ASI representative-at-large Jordan James explained that once the committee approbates the artistic quality of the intended design, ASI holds a town hall meeting on the lobby level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center, allowing students to view the draft of the mural.
“ASI is responsible for making students aware that these events and meetings are open to the public,” Klein said. “We want to get as much student involvement as possible to make sure their perspectives are taken into consideration.”
Klein said that an appeal process is also available should any students find the design to be offensive or distasteful. As student fees pay for the art, both the town hall meeting and appeal process serve to elicit student’s reaction to the prospective piece and incorporate their opinions into the mural’s dedication.
A second ad hoc committee then meets to determine the feasibility and budget for the mural, James said. This stage includes planning with the artist or artists the group has commissioned to review the logistics of the design’s execution.
The entire approval process from proposal to execution can take approximately one to two years, according to ASI’s Vice President of University Affairs Celia LoBuono Gonzalez.
“We want to make sure things are done right and that we’re reflecting the views of students, and all groups involved appropriately,” Gonzalez said.
ASI is the process of deciding on a pending policy change for future mural’s approval guidelines. The policy will be an amendment of former guidelines set by the Cesar Chavez Student Center governing board.
James said that once the new policy is drafted, it will help detail the process of which student officers and faculty members will be chosen for each committee.
ASI’s new mural policy will also expand the context of the existing policy and streamline the committees’ appraisal of future designs, Gonzalez said.
“After the merger between ASI and the Cesar Chavez Student Center, we’re trying to establish standards for future artwork to align with ASI’s values and those of the community being represented.” Gonzalez said. “(The policy is) still in its beginning stages, but the sooner we get it done, the sooner we can implement it.”