In Depth

CAMD Addresses Diversity Issues, Preparation Gap

The preparation gap between incoming Andover students and the challenges of meeting the needs of a diverse group of students, issues raised in PA’s Strategic Goals, caused the Department of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) to reevaluate its role on campus because of the 2004 Strategic Plan. Last year, Linda Carter Griffith, Dean of CAMD, along with six students, developed CAFÉ, Community Awareness For Everyone. They decided to establish an environment in which students could talk across cultural groups to learn about each others’ experiences. Griffith said, “Our goal is not to celebrate differences but to see what might make our experiences different.” Through Af-Lat-Am, CAMD has created a mentor program, Big Brother Big Sister, to help students who aren’t of the dominant culture smoothly transition to Andover. The mentoring program began two years ago. Students choose to have a mentor, and are matched with a returning Upper or Senior. They meet as a group once a month to talk about life at Andover, and occasionally go on outings. The program is a way to guide students who may be less prepared for PA than their peers. “Equity doesn’t always mean the same. Not everyone always starts with the same skills,” said Griffith. Griffith’s office has also worked closely with the Dean of Students to redesign the PACE classes to effectively address the differences in students and their perspectives. CAMD has also begun to organize reunions of alumni of various culture groups. Two years ago, Af-Lat-Am had a reunion. Griffith said, “We do this because of the networking and so that the students can see that others who have come before them have made it.” The CAMD Scholars Program began last year, which, according to Griffith, “is a way to make issues related to diversity…more related to an academic profile.” CAMD Scholars research a topic during the summer relating to diversity and formally present their finding during the following year. CAMD introduced diversity centered Faculty Development Days. Just after faculty returned from March break last year, they took part in this program. CAMD developed this program along with the Multicultural Advisory Committee. Professor Pedro Noguera from the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University spoke, as did Matt Kelly, founder of the Nonprofit MAVIN Foundation. This workshop, was for faculty to rethink their teaching styles and the way that they interact with their students. CAMD is also involved in the Academic Support Group, which began two years ago. Faculty members in the group review struggling students’ academic records. Griffith said, “My role is to bring a cultural perspective as well as to be the voice of equity.” “We support the students in the same way the cluster deans and faculty support the students. We all work together to figure what the student may need to achieve academic success here,” said Griffith. CAMD is continually trying to bring in more speakers from diverse backgrounds so that students might be able to better relate to the person addressing them. “CAMD can never work on any of these issues alone. We have to work with the other departments to affect change,” said Griffith. CAMD works closely with the Dean of Students Office on all programming, including PACE and Wellness Week. The office will collaborate with the English Department for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year. It has also worked with the History and Social Science Department to hold lectures and panels. This winter, CAMD and the Biology Department will bring a genetics scholar to campus. Griffith said, “It truly does take a village.”