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July 16, 2020: Bryn Mawr's Anti-Racism Action Steps

Dear Bryn Mawr Community, 

Over the past few weeks we have been deeply moved and saddened by the many personal stories shared by Black students and alumnae of The Bryn Mawr School. We admire the courage of those who have come forward to bring voice to their experiences and sincerely apologize to any member of our community, past or present, who has been hurt or mistreated at Bryn Mawr. Our rich racial diversity is a treasured aspect of a Bryn Mawr education. To all of our Black families, alumnae, and employees, we say loud and clear that you and your children are most valued members of the Bryn Mawr community. Our school mission pledges our commitment to the dignity of all people. Clearly, we have fallen short on this promise and must do better. 

We believe in the power and promise of raising our children in a diverse community, and that education today must be rooted in equity and justice. We understand much more acutely now that schools can perpetuate inequity if we're not vigilant. At Bryn Mawr, we stand committed to evaluating all aspects of our culture and program to improve the experience of Black students, and to educate all of our students and community in anti-racism. We want to be intentional and proactive in dismantling longstanding and systemic racism, and we are working hard to rebuild trust and facilitate healing. 

Today, we share with you the immediate actions we are taking to strengthen our school commitment to anti-racism and build a more inclusive community:
 
  • Diane Nichols, a highly respected and veteran professional in the diversity and equity field, joined Bryn Mawr as the Senior Director of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Practice. In this newly elevated role, Diane coordinates diversity, equity and inclusion programming throughout the community and leads the Bryn Mawr Equity and Inclusion Council, comprised of faculty liaisons from each division and members of the staff. The council will meet bi-weekly and will serve as the anti-racism accountability team.

  • Prior to the beginning of the school year, faculty are participating in multi-day training in counteracting implicit bias and anti-racist curriculum development led by the Institute for Teaching Diversity and Social Justice. Administrators and staff will participate in a Courageous Conversation workshop, Leadership for Equity and Anti-Racism Development, led by Dawan Julien '94, Equity Transformation Specialist. Employee evaluation processes will now include competencies around bias awareness, culturally responsive teaching and anti-racist pedagogy.

  • At the start of the school year, the Equity and Inclusion Council will implement a reporting system to more fully and transparently address issues of racism, bias and injustice that happen across the school.
     
  • We are reviewing our student and employee handbooks to include language and consequences for identity-based slurs and actions that disrespect cultural differences.

  • We have begun a data-informed review of school practices and policies to identify any racial inequities to pinpoint areas for targeted improvement. Information is being gathered through records, focus groups and surveys. 

  • We will clarify the roles and responsibilities of our parent, alumnae and board diversity groups, strengthening our infrastructure to support equity and inclusion throughout our community.

  • We will thoughtfully prepare for the return of students so that there are opportunities for individual and collective discussion about the climate of Bryn Mawr and the country. We will actively seek ways to support Black students to make sure all feel welcome, supported and safe both before school resumes and as we return to school.
These immediate actions will be supplemented by longer-term steps including designing curriculum review processes, reviewing and revising the hiring process to reduce bias and increase the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) candidate pool, and developing an ongoing series for all constituents on anti-racism and combating systemic oppression. Families and alumnae will be invited to dialogue with the school about steps towards reconciliation. You can expect to hear more details on those steps as specific plans take shape.
 
As a school, we value and cultivate each student's voice while fostering individual and collective responsibility for the building of a more equitable and just world. Please know that we are listening to the important stories being shared on social media, and that we cannot respond publicly to individual matters in order to protect student privacy. If there are any other past or current students with concerns about how they have been treated while part of the Bryn Mawr community, in addition to any other forum you choose, we encourage you to reach out to us directly via Diane Nichols, Senior Director of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Practice.  We continue to work directly with students and families who have reached out to us and take seriously all issues and concerns. 

Thank you for supporting Bryn Mawr as we continue on the path toward building a stronger community and, ultimately, a better world.

Sincerely,
 
Sue Sadler
Head of School
 
Monica Tucker P'16, 19
Chair, Board of Trustees
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