Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
June 13, 2020
Dear Members of the Ursuline Community,
Amidst a global pandemic, 2020 has been a year of frustration and pain, hardship and grief for the Ursuline community and beyond. Now in recent weeks, we have been reawakened to the undeniable reality of racial inequity and our role in fighting for racial justice. My own reflection and many voices in our wider community helped me understand that my letter of June 2, well-intentioned as it was, did not go far enough.
Meaningful change demands action. Over the last several days, Ursuline administration and faculty have spent considerable time reflecting, listening, and furthering our understanding of how issues of race play a part in our teaching, our practices, and our interactions with others. Like all of you, we have felt strong emotions — anger, guilt, sadness, confusion, and frustration. We've heard from students, parents, alumnae, faculty, and trustees, urging Ursuline to be better allies to people of color in our school and in our broader community, to take action, to confront overt and institutional racism whenever we encounter it, and address our own implicit biases.
Let me be clear: we condemn the unjust treatment of the Black community that has continued through 400 year-old structures that perpetuate systemic racism. We want better, for Ursuline and for our world. Our mission, grounded in the teachings of St. Angela Merici and the values of Catholic social justice, calls us to take a more active role in the fight against racism.
Our challenge is to undertake this work in a way that brings about sustained change. We need to ask the painful questions, and be willing to listen carefully to the answers. We need to look at ourselves — our diversity, our curricula, our practices — and grow where needed to promote inclusivity over exclusion, to promote understanding over criticism, and to protect the dignity of every person.
We have begun this work with these steps:
- In February, we began seeking outside resources for additional diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness and skill-building for our community.
- A racial justice club, initiated by students and faculty volunteers, is in formation.
- We held an all-staff/faculty meeting this week to discuss ways that Ursuline can implement change.
- On Thursday, led by Mary-Kate Tracy '94 (Principal and Director of Mission), our faculty and staff engaged in a day of professional development on topics of racial justice with a powerful prayer service of accountability and healing; deep, personal reflection; and departmental action steps for examining curriculum through the lens of racial justice.
Our next initiatives will include the following:
- Hosting virtual conversations with community members to help us better understand the inequities that exist within our community. To help us plan for these discussions, please indicate your interest here; we will provide dates and times as plans are finalized.
- Forming a task force consisting of trustees, alumnae, faculty/staff, parents, and students to address potential ways for change.
- Identifying outside resources which can guide Ursuline in increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion, including guest speakers and ongoing professional development.
- Providing a common frame of reference for our students to have conversations on racial justice by identifying a summer read or film.
This is the beginning. There is much more for us to do. We start this journey by affirming every member of the Ursuline community, their voices, their perspectives, and the uniqueness of their stories. I invite you to join in these efforts. As always, please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Kate Levesque '77