Central to a feeling of being safe in a community is ensuring that each member of the community feels appreciated for who they are, feels empowered to be their authentic self, and therefore grows to be the best version of who they wish to be.
Dear KUA Community,
In a year where we have poured an extensive amount of effort into addressing health and wellness concerns to ensure we have a plan to responsibly return this fall, we have gained a greater awareness that being a safe community has multiple connotations. Central to a feeling of being safe in a community is ensuring that each member of the community feels appreciated for who they are, feels empowered to be their authentic self, and therefore grows to be the best version of who they wish to be. Yet, we accept the harsh truth that from the inception of Kimball Union Academy in 1813 to the present day in 2020, we have failed to ask the question “what does it truly mean to be an inclusive community to everyone?” And, it is evident through the recent voices that are speaking out, particularly our Black alumni, that if we have asked that question, we have failed to properly act. Moving forward, we will refuse to let complacency afflict our institutional values around inclusion.
We are listening to the powerful and personal stories that members of the KUA family are sharing about the racism and racial injustices they encountered during their time at KUA. We are humbled by them, particularly our Black alumni who are putting voice to the trauma and pain which they have experienced for courageously calling upon the Academy to do better. You are heard. Our community will be defined by a deep sense of belonging for every community member and we are committed to listening and to growing as a community and recognize our individual and collective responsibilities.
In the Spring 2020 issue of the Kimball Union magazine, we said “we fully commit ourselves to use the power of education to grow our intellectual and emotional intelligence so that we may first work to understand; to nurture a learning environment based on dignity, equality, and justice; to help members of our community find their voices as anti-racist members of our community and as citizens of our global society, and to affirm that Black lives matter.”
Fulfilling these promises will be at the core of our mission and we will be clear and decisive in our approach.
Now it is our responsibility to make the institutional change that we acknowledge is long overdue. We are at a pivotal moment in the history and trajectory of KUA. We simply cannot fulfill our mission to prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow’s world without engaging in anti-racist work and educating ourselves and our students in the areas of racial injustice, systemic racism, and institutionalized inequality.
We –the Board of Trustees, the administration, faculty, and staff –rededicate ourselves to take the necessary steps to fully support our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, families, employees, and alumni so that everyone may feel a profound sense of belonging. These steps are both near and long-term. They are essential, but not exhaustive.
We will build upon and elevate the work of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, composed of faculty, staff, and student representatives.
We will institute a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Board of Trustees.
We will examine and expand the academic curriculum to better reflect the current and historical social, economic, and cultural context of BIPOC as well as other underrepresented populations.
We will continue to update the library guide of anti-racist and allyship resources with suggested articles, books, and films that members of the KUA community can use to educate themselves on the historical context and current state of issues of racism in the United States.
We will institute a weekly community block intended to create space for social justice work, community action and reflection, and student-led initiatives.
We will conduct a curricular audit beginning this year to better understand the implicit bias in the content of our courses, as well as the practices and habits we employ in teaching.
We re-commit to recruiting and retaining a diverse student body and will undergo a careful re-examination of our recruitment and retention policies and procedures.
We re-commit to recruiting and retaining faculty of color, providing opportunities for professional growth and leadership.
We will seek to diversify the membership of the Board of Trustees.
We will revise the Community Handbook to specifically address expectations and policies surrounding racism within our community.
We will make anti-racist training and education mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and board members.
We will continue to hear the voices of our students through a cultural climate survey, which will include the voices of faculty and staff.
We will create new avenues for BIPOC alumni to engage with one another and with the Academy.
We invite you to use your voice however you may feel comfortable so that we may confront the past and work together toward a future for KUA where we all feel valued and where we all add value.