In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, faculty member Maggie Davis launched a listening tour with alumni. Those conversations have prompted the creation of a DEI Task Force, which Maggie now coordinates.
Bethany Allen ’89, who is a consultant in the field and has been working with the faculty for the last couple of years on DEI training, took the substance of these meetings and the results of student and faculty surveys and created a tentative road map to sketch out the way forward.
“Equity work can sometimes feel overwhelming, particularly when there are so many good ideas and so much work to be done, as is the case at Gould,” Bethany notes. “To borrow the phrase Brad Clarke used in the last DEI Task Force meeting, the roadmap is my attempt to ‘put my arms around’ what has already happened while shining a light onto the path ahead. The DEI Task Force members themselves—led boldly by the students—are the ones who are actually charting the way.”
One of the first steps on this path is the creation of subcommittees that will begin meeting in January. The purpose of these subcommittees is to create more focused opportunities for reflection, growth, investigation, and recommendations for future DEI work.
At this time, the four areas of focus include Institution-level Review, Campus Culture, Engagement & Outreach, and Training Opportunities.
- Institution-level Review
The institution-level review will explore Gould’s commitment to equity, as well as who has power, and how it is used. They will also look at what resources are available and who decides how to distribute them. Audits of the school’s curriculum, operations, and programming will help determine how well Gould lives up to its mission and core principles and whether we are truly preparing students to be global citizens.
- Campus Culture
A look at campus culture will focus on mental health as a priority. This subcommittee will also look at how the community responds to racial injustice and the equity or inequity between the domestic and international student experience. They will assess whether or not Gould classrooms are a safe place for all students to be themselves and if they have the opportunity to speak their truth.
- Engagement & Outreach
Engagement and outreach will look at how Gould can bring more members of the larger community along on this journey. Coordinating with the Alumni Board, the subcommittee hopes to find ways to involve alumni of color in ongoing DEI Task Force initiatives. Part of their work will be to lay the groundwork for these conversations, integrating staff and local stakeholders in Bethel as well.
- Training Opportunities
The subcommittee on training opportunities will look at places where there’s room—and a need—to grow. They will also explore inherent/implicit bias and equity training, digging deeper into the WHY this work matters and what our community gains from doing it. Part of the training they envision will likely involve building a common understanding of terms like equity, equality, inclusion, diversity, racism, anti-racism, prejudice, belonging, and justice.
“The task force is really just the initial step for Gould,” says Head of School Tao Smith ’90. “While specific recommendations will come from this work, this is part of a larger, long-term conversation. Raising awareness, building skills, bridging divides, and arcing toward a more just and equitable society here at home and everywhere a Gould graduate may go is our ultimate goal. We are better when we are inclusive, and recognizing and celebrating our diversity is what makes us strong. Gould is committed to this process in the fullest sense, for however far and however long it may last.”Raising awareness, building skills, bridging divides, and arcing toward a more just and equitable society here at home and everywhere a Gould graduate may go is our ultimate goal.– Tao Smith ’90, Head of School
The DEI Task Force has held a number of open meetings, and several alumni are already involved in the process—in addition to many faculty and students—including Bethany Allen ’89, Lexi Stewart ’15, Tom Davis ’68, Sara Shifrin ’88, head of school Tao Smith ’90, trustees Ken Remsen ’67, Wendy Penley, Sarah Ovenden ’81, parent Megan Grocki, and former parent and trustee Stephanie Montgomery.
“It’s vital that we not make this work additive,” says Maggie Davis, “but that inclusion and equity become central to everything we do—until it’s an automatic thought. We need to bring these issues intentionally into our culture and our daily life.”
Interested in working with our DEI Task Force?Contact Maggie Davis to learn how you can get involved!