The ICD Internal Review Part 1: There’s No Policy Like No Policy

Eleven pages of ICD's 2020 internal review, layered on top of each other, fill the frame. They are heavily marked up, with underlines, scribbles in the margin, and seven colors of highlighter denoting important sections of text. The number "1" is overlaid over the picture in a large black serif font.

Good evening, folks, and welcome to my analysis of the 2020 ICD Internal Review. After spending months systematically failing the marginalized composers they claim to advocate for, the Institute for Composer Diversity has finally taken time to stop making non-apologies and engage in some institutional introspection. While this internal review should’ve been external, this document is the most comprehensive look we’ve ever gotten at ICD’s policies, goals, and priorities. On the surface, it looks good; they grapple with many criticisms from the past year, and they make some effective changes. However, a deeper dive reveals a heavily-plagiarized document that hides major issues while further stigmatizing the composers in its care.

Overall, the review reflects the legacy of performative activism ICD has grown into. I believe the review team did their best, but the Institute doesn’t walk the walk. This hamstrings their efforts—particularly while Director Rob Deemer refuses to relinquish control.

That sucks, because I wanted better. I used to be listed in the database; Rob informally recruited me to be a data-entry lackey when I met him at the International Women’s Brass Conference in 2019. Hell, I loaned ICD one of my blog posts last spring before realizing the full extent of their harm! I want to believe this organization that gets mentions in the New York Times is doing intersectional, antiracist work to tangibly better the lives of marginalized composers. I want to believe I don’t need to warn my band director friends every time I hear they’re looking for a new batch of ensembles to recruit. But I can’t believe in ICD when they have the chance to do something right yet squander it with linguistic carelessness and inconsistent policy decisions.

It’s important that we analyze both ICD’s sweeping policy choices and the little wording decisions they make along the way. Many of ICD’s (and Rob’s) mistakes in the past year relate to concepts many of us learn over time. As a major organization dedicated to representing marginalized populations, it’s their responsibility to already know better, and I’m going to point that out a lot. When others have made the critiques publicly before, I’ll link to those posts.

But the knowledge I’m sharing here is for you, too—because with the right tools, you are capable of being a powerful force for change. And I’m really glad you’re here.

Point By Point Analysis

Their Introduction

The review minimizes the scope and extent of the harm ICD has done literally from its opening phrase. “In the late summer and early fall of 2020, ICD received feedback…” ignores the fact that last year’s widespread criticism started in May and June.

The review team weakens its own credibility by refusing to tell us exactly who they consulted in this process. The document begins by introducing our reviewers: Alan Berquist, Ciyadh Wells, and Helena von Rueden, all relative newcomers to the organization according to the October review announcement (though we never learn when each of them joined). The review states that it includes “assistance of experts in the field and community members.” The term “community members” is self-explanatory (those of us who badgered them for months), but I’m genuinely curious who they brought on as an “expert in the field”—and which field, since the review covers several areas of interest. We don’t know if these experts were paid or volunteer, or if they were friends and colleagues or independent experts. ICD should have contacted critical sources and asked if they could name them; that consent would have made the review easier to track and assess.

What interested me about their introduction is that the review team said Rob responded to each item raised. I’m glad they included this detail, because it colors how I see some of the points toward the end of the list.

Now, onward! I’ll be traveling through the body of the report in the order it came in, but we’ll also combine ideas from different sections as we go. Let’s jump in.


Database Specificity and Composer Identity

Point 1: Outing LGBTQIA2S+ Composers

The Complaint:

“Allowing non-composers to enter information has resulted in people being outed.”
This complaint has known mentions in my writing and Trade Winds’ post.

The Review Team Says:

  • Complaint prioritized because “it suggested the possibility of endangering the safety of composers in the database from the LGBTQIA2S+ community.”
  • ICD took the database offline for “a thorough investigation” (no specifics).
  • pre-Fall 2020: third parties could enter LGBTQIA2S+ info; unnamed Coordinator of the Composer Diversity Database emailed composers to confirm info.
  • “A small number of exceptions were made to this policy for composers that had publicly identified as part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community in the press or on the internet and from their own words, as this was considered to be public knowledge.”
  • Info added to new FAQ page and composer submission pages to clarify data entry policy.
  • New positive consent system in play.
  • No one came to ICD to say they’d been outed; because of this, they’re concluding it never happened, and allegations are a “misunderstanding.”

My Notes:

  • Unclear how thorough or ethical the alleged LGBTQIA2S+ confirmation emails were; I couldn’t track one down.
  • Sharing someone’s LGBTQIA2S+ status with strangers and colleagues/teachers/friends/ICD staff without consent is outing, too.
  • Re: the “small number of exceptions”: ICD owes every person under this category an admission of outing and apology. Even those of us out publicly aren’t necessarily out in the same ways.
    • Also, ICD members may have known about queer identities that were only shared on private and personal pages and okayed that information without considering what others may have access to it.
  • Of course no one came to ICD to say they’d been outed. They didn’t ask anyone to contact them if they had been.

Suppose a well-known DEI platform published your queer identity against your will. Chances are you’re not going to tell them about it—especially not when that organization has a bad habit of publishing names in apologies without asking.

The review team cites changing the queer information section to “further protect information,” though they haven’t addressed data protection in any part of this review. Their claim that they’ll prevent anyone from ever being outed also doesn’t hold water. Outing composers to members of the ICD team remains a potential hazard, and unless their “don’t submit others’ LGBTQIA2S+ status” thing is a permanent change (not clear), this protection they do offer is not a guarantee. Coercive consent is not consent. Approaching a queer composer and asking them, “we have this information, can we publish it?” can be a daunting question for someone who hasn’t begun to think about going public with their identity. (Can you imagine choosing between responses of “no, I’m not queer” (lying about your own identity) and “I am queer, but I don’t want you to use that info” (super vulnerable)?)

Our identities deserve better than this response.

[back to table of contents]

Point 2: Adding Pronouns (Finally!)

The Complaint:

“Composers cannot share pronouns in the database.”
This complaint has a known mention in my writing, but many others have mentioned it on social media.

The Review Team Says:

  • A non-mandatory pronoun option (good!) was added to the composer submission forms effective late Fall 2020.
  • Worth noting: “Any pronoun can be added or removed at composers’ discretion.”

My Notes:

  • At the time of publishing, only 29 nonbinary composers are listed in the ICD database of ~1,900 total, which… says a lot.
  • No neopronoun users that I’ve seen so far, but multi-pronoun options are available, and it appears they use text input (good!) instead of a drop-down of choices.
  • My big concern: ICD does not at this time appear to have the infrastructure to deal with composers who may need pronouns removed quickly.

ICD says pronouns “can be added or removed at composers’ discretion.” It’s a good commitment; however, in other sections of the review, they’ve also stated they’re working through a significant backlog of composer permissions. My main concern here is that someone may need their pronouns removed quickly (for their safety) and not be able to do so due to the speed of updates. ICD needs to find a way to prioritize these urgent identity updates.

[back to table of contents]

Point 3: We Can Actually Mention Our Artistic Practices

The Complaint:

“Composers cannot share artist statements or other specifics about their works.”
This complaint has known mentions in my writing and Trade Winds’ post. I mention it specifically; they say it in more nuanced ways within several thoughts.

The Review Team Says:

  • Personal Statement option was added to composer submission forms, effective late Fall 2020.

My Notes:

  • No character limit as far as I can tell (good!).
  • Impossible to tell in search results which composers have statements in their profiles unless you click on each individually.
  • This will need some tweaking to make this a handy feature.

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Point 4: Composer Communication and “Choose to Identify”

The Complaint:

“Composers should receive direct communication regarding how they are referred to in the database, including the use of their name, how they choose to identify, descriptions of compositional output, etc.”
This is part paraphrase, part plagiarism of a point in Trade Winds’ post. (Remember how I said there was a lot of plagiarism in here? Just wait. It gets way worse next week.)

The Review Team Says:

  • “Composers may or may not want to be featured in the database, and it was a mistake to assume consent and to assume that data entered reflected what the composer wanted stated about them and their work.” This is one of the best sentences in the review.
  • Databases were taken offline in Fall 2020 during positive consent implementation; consenting composers are still being re-entered.
  • Composers who decline or do not respond will not be added.

My Notes:

  • The Trade Winds post says: “further discourse regarding the use of their name, how they choose to identify (professionally as well as all personal identifiers), descriptions of compositional output, etc.”
    • Those parentheses are important because, without it, ICD looks like they think our identities are a choice (massive anti-queer trope and linguistic microaggression).
  • Has there ever been any communication with composers regarding the expected outcomes of using our information? I haven’t seen any.
  • ICD needs to explain the measurable impacts of database representation.
  • How are we supposed to trust them with our data when they can’t tell us what’ll happen to us because of it or why they’re using it?

[back to table of contents]

Point 5: Insufficient Race, Gender, and Sexuality Categorization

The Complaint:

“The identity categories by race and gender are too broad and problematic.”
This has known mentions in my writing (gender/attraction) and Trade Winds’ post (race).

The Review Team Says:

  • “no person can be accurately described by a series of checkboxes.”
  • “In the Demographics section, multiple boxes can be checked to allow for composers to choose multiple racial, ethnic, and gender identifiers.”
  • Staff discussed gender and attraction, consulting with “a gender activist as well as a professor of Women & Gender Studies” (not named; unclear if one person or two).
  • Added language “explaining the problematic nature of broad racial and gender categories” to FAQ and search pages.
  • Added Indigenous Peoples to demographics, confirmed other categories as “best practices”*.
  • Gender identity separated from attraction (sort of…)
  • Write-in option added for more specificity.

My Notes on Race:

  • The demographics section conflates race, ethnicity, and cultural background in misleading, exploitable, potentially exclusionary ways.
  • *Best practices for ethnicity do not extend past U.S. borders; Trade Winds and others have repeatedly pointed out linguistic issues with “Latinx,” yet ICD continues to use the term.
    • This centers white (esp. white American) comfort over how these composers identify themselves—a form of linguistic imperialism.
    • ICD ignores people making this correction, so it’s not a lack of education, just a disinterest in adapting.
  • Indigenous Peoples info overwhelmingly focuses within U.S. borders, blurring together distinct peoples in Canada and omitting Australian, Central American, and South American indigenous groups entirely.
    • U.S. guidelines also easily exclude reconnecting Natives who were forcibly separated from their families or nations, some Black Natives (see Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen, etc.), and folks whose tribe is not federally recognized. More staff/leadership education necessary here; this is currently very gatekeep-y and invasive.
  • Write-in identity options not currently searchable.
A screenshot of part of ICD's search criteria. The heading reads "DEMOGRAPHIC CRITERIA." Below it are two rows of checkboxes. The first row, from left to right: African, Black, Latinx/Latin American, Indigenous Peoples. The second row, from left to right: East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, West Asian/North African.
a screenshot of the Demographic Criteria search interface for ICD’s Composer Diversity Database.

Folks far more knowledgeable than me have already put in the time and labor to explain to ICD that we apply linguistic imperialism when we take a word that is, at a glance, phonetically incompatible with the Spanish language and use it to describe people from Central and South America regardless of if they use that term for themselves. (More about this in my analysis of Point 12.) ICD already hasn’t listened to them.

It is not ICD’s job to override people’s self-identification with whatever term they feel would sit the best with U.S.-based site visitors. In doing so, they are centering white comfort over the identities of the people they claim to represent.

“It is not @ComposerProject’s job to override people’s self-identification with whatever term they feel would sit best with U.S.-based site visitors. In doing so, they are centering white comfort over the identities of the people they claim to represent.”

My Notes on Gender and Attraction:

  • Gender options need to be more specific than just nonbinary and transgender catchalls; not everyone in these categories claims them.
  • Sexuality and romantic attraction MUST be more specific than “vaguely gay,” as I jokingly called it in my original post (months-old critique still not properly addressed).
    • Because the attraction check box is “LGBTQIA2S+”, it also includes any genderqueer and trans people who have selected that label, making it useless from a search perspective.
    • Specific sexual and romantic identities not currently searchable at all!
  • If the gender studies professor from Fredonia listed on the Teams page is the one they consulted for this, they should tell us. Asking your colleagues counts as asking your friends (see Point 13).
  • Write-in identity options not currently searchable.
A screenshot of part of ICD's search interface. The heading reads "GENDER IDENTITY and SEXUAL / ROMANTIC ORIENTATION CRITERIA". Below it are two rows of checkboxes. The first row, from left to right: Female, Intersex, Male, Non-binary, Third Gender, Transgender, Two Spirit. The second row: a single checkbox that says "LGBTQIA2S+".
a screenshot of the Gender Identity and Sexual/Romantic Orientation Criteria search interface for ICD’s Composer Diversity Database.

Imagine you are a band director looking to program a concert of works by lesbian composers. To find them through ICD, you have to check the LGBTQIA2S+ box. If you check that box, though, you’re also going to get everyone else who checked that box: gay, bi, and pan people; transgender people who are not lesbian; ace and aro people… the list goes on. The preview cards also don’t show anyone’s specific LGBTQIA2S+ identity. As y’all may know, you can’t assume only people with she/her pronouns are lesbian: he/him and they/them lesbians also exist. So if you want to use ICD to program a concert of lesbian composers, you’ll have to individually click on each of the (at time of publishing) 148 folks listed in those search results to find out if they’re even who you’re looking for.

Also, if I see the word “preferences” used around queer identities again, I’m going to scream.

[back to table of contents]

Point 6: Correct Database Entries

The Complaint:

“Some information in the database is out-of-date or erroneous.”
This complaint has known mentions in my writing and Trade Winds’ post.

The Review Team Says:

  • Out-of-date information is an issue.
  • More staffing added to keep databases correct; schedule proposed for continuous verification.
  • Non-consenting composers have been removed.

My Notes:

  • Yes, wrong info misrepresents composers’ work, but it also misrepresents their identities.

Does being removed mean being taken off the whole database, or just the public-facing side? More on this at the end of Part 3.

[back to table of contents]

Point 7: Eliminating Alphabetical Advantages

The Complaint:

“Composers whose names start with an A or at the start of the alphabet are given an advantage since database search results appear in alphabetical order.”
This complaint has a known mention in Trade Winds’ post.

The Review Team Says:

  • Searches now randomize, with options for sorting A-Z or Z-A.

My Notes:

  • As I understand it, this fix is sufficient. (Anytime I say this and somebody provides further perspective, I will link that post.) 

[back to table of contents]


Communication

Point 8: ICD Doesn’t Take Feedback

The Complaint:

“ICD has shown an unwillingness to listen, take feedback, and work quickly to address complaints. ICD has not responded to offers of volunteer assistance from volunteers.”
This complaint has known mentions in my writing and Trade Winds’ post, usually in multiple places.

The Review Team Says:

  • Lack of acknowledgment and response attributed to structural disorganization.
  • Created role of Feedback Manager, temporarily staffed by Ciyadh Wells (a member of the leadership team), to provide a centralized home for criticism and complaint.
    • Because Ciyadh is in leadership, complaints will make it to the top.
  • More website communication options suggested.
  • Hire Communications Specialist in 2021 to manage feedback.
  • Formalized, transparent feedback response policy suggested for 2021; implementation plans not specified.

My Notes:

  • Wording understates the problem; the team states feedback wasn’t addressed “in a timely fashion” when it often wasn’t addressed at all.
  • In the past, I’ve offered through ICD staffers to meet with Rob and educate him personally (see screenshot below); even when Rob requested contact info, meetings never materialized.
  • Rob has sought info but not prioritized it and been offered info but not acknowledged it; he is interested in learning if and when it suits him.
  • Making sure feedback is heard at the decision-making level of leadership (per the review) doesn’t mean it will be listened to.
A screenshot of a conversation between myself and Ashley Killam. Ashley's message reads: "Passing on a message from Rob! (And it was [redacted] lol. The name I couldn't remember) "'Can you see if she'd be interested in a zoom meeting this week? I had a good conversation with [redacted] about this, but I want to get other thoughts and viewpoints'". My response reads: "I'm not very well-versed in zoom as a platform (work had us using WebEx, lol) but I'd love to".
screenshot shared with Ashley Killam’s permission. The redacted name is a member of the Executive Advisory Council.

[back to table of contents]

The Complaint:

“ICD posted apologies on social media that cited names of people who did not give their consent to be named.”
This is a known complaint delivered mostly over social media. Check out their October statement’s comment section (and edit history) to see one instance.

The Review Team Says:

  • Posting individuals’ names without their consent shouldn’t be allowed.
  • Implemented “an internal communication policy that requires individual and direct communication with any individual whose name ICD is considering using publicly before using that name publicly.”
  • The affected individual has been apologized to (two people, myself included, were named in the October statement above; it’s unclear if this refers to that instance or a similar one in June).

My Notes:

  • It took ICD too long to learn this lesson; from June to October they dragged someone in front of their entire audience in almost every statement.
  • When they named me in October, they misspelled my name and didn’t tag me or let me know I’d been mentioned in a post that reached their 7,900 followers. (Nor did they link my blog.)
  • Past public apologies to specific people have been vague and insufficient.

But ICD cares about its composers, right?

[back to table of contents]

Point 10: ICD Ignores Its Composers

“ICD does not take feedback from the composers they represent.”
This complaint has known mentions in my writing and Trade Winds’ post, usually in multiple places.

The Review Team Says:

  • See Point 8.
  • “several pieces of feedback from composers are being addressed in this review”* (self-identification, consent-based system, Communications Specialist).
  • Actions proposed “Addressed in items #2, 3, 4, and 8.”

My Notes:

  • ICD still isn’t taking its composers’ feedback; most of us speaking have left.
  • *Framing their response as “gotcha, we’re doing it now!” is insulting considering ICD tried hard to keep ignoring us.
  • Addressing some concerns once does nothing to move toward an environment where concerns are consistently, honestly addressed (folks taking notes: transparent, two-way communication from the start avoids this issue).
  • Points 2, 3, 4, and 8: sending two emails to check on whose identities they’re allowed to include, making relatively foreseeable changes they arguably should’ve implemented ages ago, and onboarding a volunteer communications assistant (“Communications Specialist” in the report, “Communications Coordinator” in their actual listing), which hasn’t happened yet.

For fuck’s sake. If we can’t even solidly tell who you’re talking to, how are we supposed to be sure our concerns are being addressed?

Am I satisfied with this response? No. You took our feedback, ICD—but not until thousands of people saw it and you couldn’t pretend it didn’t exist anymore.

[back to table of contents]

Point 11: Early Contributor Credit

The Complaint:

“Credit for the creation of the ICD is not properly attributed to early contributors besides Rob Deemer.”
It’s unclear what specifically this references; both I and Trade Winds touch on it in our writing.

The Review Team Says:

  • ICD history isn’t super present on the website.
  • The review team suggested talking to “early contributors for reviewing the language presented on the history of ICD”; some staff interviewed said some contributors “declined acknowledgment.”
  • ICD history statement being revised/reviewed by early staff and volunteers; will complete in early 2021.

My Notes:

  • It’s unclear what this is about. ATTRIBUTION WOULD BE HELPFUL, ya know?
  • Trade Winds have more specifics here:
    • Praise is usually aimed at Rob’s database.
    • Rob has admitted he had no plans to credit the Fredonia TAs who did lots of the work building the database (more on interns: Point 14).
  • Did the review team reach out to anyone who has left ICD because of Rob’s leadership? Their memories may differ.

Until updates are complete, ICD should remove the abridged paragraph on the FAQ page, which (still) portrays it as Rob’s Database.

A screenshot of ICD's FAQ page. It reads as follows: "History of ICD "HOW DID ICD BEGIN? "ICD started as a small database project by Dr. Rob Deemer for his composition students at the State University of New York at Fredonia in the summer of 2016. What began as a list of women composers and their websites blossomed into the Women Composers Database, a searchable spreadsheet that was publicly launched in December, 2017. In June 2018, the project had grown to include composers of underrepresented heritages from all genders and was launched as a stand-alone website as the Composer Diversity Database. In January 2019, the State University of New York at Fredonia agreed to the formation of the Institute for Composer Diversity and ICD was officially launched that month."
A screenshot of the abridged ICD history paragraph present on the FAQ page at time of publishing.

[back to table of contents]

Point 12: “Latinx” and Linguistic Imperialism

The Complaint:

“Criticism regarding the appropriate use of terminology surrounding Latinx materials that could be seen as racist in areas outside the United States was not taken seriously.”
This complaint has a known mention in Trade Winds’ post.

The Review Team Says:

  • The review team suggests speaking “with Latinx identifying musicians, composers, organizations, and community members.”
  • Their rationale for using “Latinx” should be explained on the FAQ page (not currently included).

My Notes:

  • This wording has been distorted; it’s hard to understand the complaint.
  • “Could be seen as racist” is dodging responsibility.
  • From the Trade Winds post: “In my last exchange, I told them that using those terms and pretending that Spanish-speaking Latin America would have to adapt to them was racist, and it was then when they dismissed me from the project.”
  • Some people use Latinx to describe themselves! But lots of folks don’t find the term useful or representative, often because it doesn’t function within Spanish phonology.
  • White scholars forcibly batch-applying a term on a vast population of people despite being told by members of that community that it won’t respectfully refer to everybody is just perpetuating white supremacist imperialism.

ICD needs to talk to people whose heritage is Latin American who do not describe themselves as Latinx—and pay them for their time and expertise—to truly understand this issue. They have not appropriately addressed this here, and our Latine community members deserve better.

Oh, and the link they point at to theoretically explain the rationale behind using “Latinx”? It doesn’t work. See for yourself.

[back to table of contents]

Point 13: Favoritism in ICD Staffing (feat. Clandestine Operations)

The Complaint:

“Offers to work for ICD by highly qualified individuals have been ignored, while friends of ICD staff have been brought on to do the work, showing favoritism.”
Both Trade Winds and I discuss being ignored; Trade Winds talks specifically about the favoritism issue.

The Review Team Says:

  • By not responding, Rob and other staff have lost chances for ICD to learn.
  • Ciyadh Wells added to the “ICD main contact email address”; Communications Coordinator will take over.
  • “small minority” of ICD staffers are Rob’s friends; most “volunteered their services or were sought out specifically for their expertise.”
  • Formalized staffing policy suggested.
  • Specific contact emails now on Teams page.
  • “An automated message has been added to the Facebook page to direct users to the more reliable email addresses of specific staff members.”

My Notes:

  • Which email is the main contact? If it’s rob@composerdiversity… oof. Rob’s Database.
  • Colloquially, “friends” include colleagues or even people like myself and Ashley Killam, who were recruited informally at a conference. (This would explain the prevalence of white staff, too.)
  • Perhaps a more useful metric here: how many staff members/volunteers have been recruited by Rob versus volunteering or recruitment by others?
  • Re: seeking staff “specifically for their expertise,” do they mean expertise in DEI or in various ensembles? On the Teams page, Ciyadh is the only member with obvious DEI experience outside ICD. (More on this in Part 3.)
  • Consulting folks at your university counts as hiring your friends; it means you didn’t bother looking beyond the environment you’re in every day (see especially Point 5).
  • Given ICD’s history of Figuring It Out As They Go, it’s incredibly startling that so little of the “expertise” they value includes anything beyond generally liking underrepresented composers.
    • Advocating for marginalized people in any field quickly falls short if you don’t know enough to ensure you’re not undermining them in your language and actions.
    • I worry that those whose chief interest is promoting (white) women composers won’t do the work to learn to support other marginalizations.
  • Adding clear contacts for more ICD staff is good, but spare us the “relieving the pressure on the Director’s email address” line. Rob’s email has historically been hard to find (I had to get it from Ashley Killam when I copied him on my removal request).

Perhaps most notably from an implementation standpoint, the review team’s automated Facebook message doesn’t exist. To test this, I borrowed a couple of my Rocket League buddies, both of whom are music educators, and sent them out to poke the ICD Facebook Page. (Recruiting friends for clandestine missions was the most fun part of this entire process, for the record.) Somehow, by the time we sent our first query three days after the report came out, ICD had changed course. Thanks to my friends for letting me use the screen shots of their conversations (the words partially obscured at the top of the first one are “Hi there!”):

Not the automated info we were expecting. Not even a reference to the (at this point perhaps mythical) “main contact email.” The review team’s clear implementations have already been undone, and Rob’s still running the accounts and preserving the idea of Rob’s Database. I’m incredibly alarmed at how tightly Rob’s still clinging to the reins here. Does the review team carry authority over the implementations they’ve specified, or are all these items mentioned in the report subject to Rob’s override?

It would be cool if the information released in the report had an expiration date beyond, say, an avocado, but maybe that’s just me.

“It would be cool if the information released in the ICD report had an expiration date beyond, say, an avocado, but maybe that’s just me.”

[back to table of contents]

Point 14: Credit Your Damn Interns (And Pay Them)

The Complaint:

“Interns are not always given proper credit for their work.”
This complaint has a known mention in Trade Winds’ post.

The Review Team Says:

  • The review team asserts responsibility for crediting interns both past and present.
  • Claim: historic knowledge has been lost due to shoddy record-keeping.
  • Pilot internship with the Choral Database is mentioned, though this seems like advertising.
  • If corrections are found, interns will be credited; ICD should work with future interns to ensure appropriate credit.

My Notes:

  • How did anyone decide interns/grad students didn’t need credit???
  • No mention of who ICD is contacting to correct this, since “a certain amount of historic knowledge is not available.”
  • Unclear if the current “pilot internship” is something outsiders can apply to or just more cronyism.
  • Does ICD really claim its record-keeping is robust now, and if so, where the fuck is that budget report?

To everyone reading this: if you start an organization off-the-cuff, give everyone credit from the start. Especially student laborers.

Oh, and by the way, I found a few interns. Check the end.

[back to table of contents]

Coming Soon: It Gets Worse

Next time, we’ll wrap up the ICD communications snafu. We’ll also dive deeper into some of the material on ICD’s website and how they represent (and misrepresent) their practices and benefits. I’m excited to look at where policies succeed and where they fail. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading—I’ll see you in the next one!

[Note: because these are much longer reads compared to my usual content, Parts 2 and 3 will also be releasing at 12PM AZ MST for the next two Saturdays. After that, we’ll go back to 8pm drops.]


This review has been a big project. Many thanks to Nebal Maysaud for their brilliance in editing and sensitivity reading, to Brandon Rumsey for their archival assistance, and to Nick St. Croix for his patience as I upended our apartment and schedules for a month and a half to get this done.

Thanks for reading! If you learned something from this post and would like to tip me, head on over to my Ko-fi page. For more analysis and commentary like this in your life, come back every Saturday at 8pm MST. To support the long-term work I do as an artist and advocate, you can find me on Patreon and @ordinarilymeg on Instagram.

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