These past seven months have seen tremendous challenges for the Poly community. The COVID-19 pandemic has required all of us to adjust rapidly to a shuttered campus while maintaining standards of academic excellence and community that epitomize Poly. We have also witnessed the agonizing evidence of systemic racism and the continued unjust treatment of Black people that have galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement. Furthermore, a candid exchange of experiences on social media's “Dear Poly,” has required us to examine whether Poly is actually fulfilling its mission of providing an equitable and outstanding learning environment for all of its students and alumni. This confluence of events has deepened our resolve to examine the existence of embedded inequity within the Poly community and to reconfirm our commitment to take concrete actions that eliminate systemic bias of all forms.
As trustees, we express our regret at the pain and hurt that incidents, such as those described in “Dear Poly,” have caused community members. We are entrusted with overseeing the mission and health of Poly and, importantly, with creating a vision for Poly’s future. With this responsibility, we affirm Poly’s commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment for all of our students, their families, our teachers and staff, and to the broader community. Furthermore, we resolve to support and enhance a learning and working environment at Poly that is anti-racist and opposes all forms of bias, discrimination, and hate that exists in our society.
To undertake our efforts, John Bracker and his team have outlined a series of actions that can be found in a prior message from John and are now encapsulated on Poly’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) page.
The webpage outlines Poly’s plan with regard to ongoing community and reconciliation activities; curricular review; education and skill-building; and recruitment and hiring, which includes hiring an inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by July, 2021.
The Board has also established its own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, chaired by Kwame S. Brathwaite and Maggie Sabbag ‘87. Reporting to the Board as a whole, this committee will work with the Head of School to develop a long-term strategy to address these important issues. The key components of the committee’s work include establishing and monitoring DEI metrics for the school, interfacing with other Board committees regarding DEI goals, providing leadership within the community, and ensuring anti-racist/anti-bias training and education for the Board.
These times present each of us individually and collectively with unprecedented challenges, but also with new opportunities. As a board, we reaffirm our commitment to a better future for Poly and the members of our community. Fundamentally, Poly is a place of learning and development, and our DEI work will provide each of us the opportunity to grow as individuals and leaders. We trust that the Poly community will welcome this opportunity with our typical keen ardor, goodwill, kindness, and patience. This is important work, and we are in it together. We look forward to updating you as we progress, but for now please know our commitment to improve is deep and strong.