Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The Ursuline School’s commitment to our mission and community is not only to assemble a diverse population of students and adults, but to teach the skills, model the behaviors, provide the resources, and cultivate an environment of equity and inclusion that affirm all perspectives and backgrounds within our community. Only when we engage our differences will we find a greater understanding of the world and how we can serve it. Our diversity, equity and inclusion work aims to give every member of our community a voice.
OUR TEAM and STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN
“To build on the initial steps we have taken, we are committed to enacting near-term, mid-term and longer-term corrective actions to systematically address racial injustice and to expand diversity and inclusion within our walls.” June 2020.
Our strategic action plan, Better Path Forward Together, was launched in June 2020. We know that this work of building an anti-racist community will not be accomplished quickly or painlessly. But we are committed to reforming our school-wide systems and practices. We pledge to expand our efforts to validate and include all in our community. We call up the courage to reimagine a more equitable environment.
As we enact this Better Path Forward Together, we will do whatever is necessary to create a just environment for every person in our community. It will be part of the fabric of who we are, because it is the fabric of what we believe. We are grateful to all who have courageously and patiently offered constructive recommendations and heartfelt support.
We have formed the new position of Director of DEI and plan to fill the position as soon as possible. The current members of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team are Adrianna Robertson, Doretha Buster, and Kim Tietjen.
We hosted our first Diversity Summit in November 2017. It was an offsite two-day workshop. They explored topics they had chosen, such as race, gender, voting rights, colorism, homophobia, and privilege.
At our second offsite Diversity Summit, in November 2018, we welcomed students from Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich. It was the students who prepared the materials and led the sessions on colorism, Title IX, gentrification, and Islamophobia.
Our most recent Diversity Summit was in October 2019. The topics this time included antisemitism, equity versus equality, privilege, and disability discrimination. The aim was to come to a better understanding and encourage greater acceptance and inclusion while having difficult conversations.
The Diversity Alliance Club specifically meets to hold informative discussions and host events surrounding diversity, inclusion and equity. Several other Ursuline clubs provide opportunities to explore and celebrate various cultures and histories. These include the Asian Appreciation Association/The Chinese Experience Club, the Black Essence Club, the Bollywood Club, the Italian Society, and the Spanish Club.
The Spectrum Club is a safe place for teens to ask about sexual orientation and gender expression and to get information, within the framework of Catholic teaching. The Spectrum club works to create an environment which fosters awareness and tolerance, and encourages sensitivity to acknowledge that everyone’s feelings and experiences have value.
In 2018, four Ursuline students attended the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Nashville; a multiracial, multicultural gathering of student leaders from across the country.
The students attended with Ms. Tietjen and Mrs. Buster. There were over 5,000 attendees from all races, ethnic groups, cultures, gender, and sexual orientations. It was a life changing experience for all.
CURRICULUM AND POLICIES
We have initiated a formal multi-year review of our curriculum.
We have engaged legal counsel to review the Student/Parent Handbook, Employee Manual and Faculty Handbook, and school policies. This is to include a review of our Disciplinary Policies with a zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background or sexual identity, whether spoken or written, by faculty, coaches and students.
Our DEI Team led a voluntary summer 2020 discussion group for faculty and staff as they read and discussed anti-racism resources. A reading list and resources on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion was shared with faculty and staff. We are formulating new Anti-Racist Education and Training, which will be required by all faculty and staff and coaches, students, and trustees in the 2020-21 school year.