Clarifying and redefining the goals of the Andover Anti-Racism Task Force (A.A.T.F.), Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington shared the reports that the task force had amassed in their data processing period. This final progress update for the A.A.T.F. was announced during the last ASM of winter term on February 25. According to the A.A.T.F.’s launch letter, the task force originally planned to release their final report in the spring of 2021. The final report has since been delayed with its last official update by Kington on September 29, 2021, noting that the report will not be released until the winter term of 2022. However, the report has not been released as of yet.
According to Kington, the A.A.T.F. overarches four subcategories under the goal of anti-racism: representation, experience, systems, and cultural competence. While the subcategories specifically address different aspects of an Andover community member’s life on campus, Kington acknowledged that these categories could not encompass the whole Andover experience. During the ASM, Kington touched upon the different recommendations the task force had gathered. Kington also recognized student requests for A.A.T.F. transparency.
Kington said, “There were over 80 recommendations that came out of this. And that’s one of the reasons why the report is 50 pages long. There are pages and pages of recommendations in the broad categories [such as] expanded support for students in various forms, additional training across faculty and staff and trustees and students… improving data systems, improving systems for retention and hiring a family of staff, and better performance systems for all of our employees.”
“We’re going to have to prioritize and change everything at the same time, we’ll prioritize and oversee implementation, we will have feedback directly from the Board of Trustees Equity Inclusion Committee. We also have an equity inclusion advisory committee of faculty that will also be advising us. We know that we heard over and over and over again that we are really not great at communicating about these issues across the community, but we will do a better job,” continued Kington.
Although the A.A.T.F. was formed during September of 2020, students voiced concerns about a lack of notable progress and updates shared from the A.A.T.F. Amara Neal ’22, a facilitator of the community conversation after ASM, expressed disappointment in the school’s discussion surrounding the A.A.T.F., claiming that Andover was intentionally unclear in some of the wording to create an illusion of progress.
“I think what was most contradictory [in the ASM] to me was talking about how they want to be very data based, and very concrete in what they showed us. However, in their recommendations, there was a lot of flowery language [used to say that] they wanted clear and concrete goals, manageable goals, etc., but didn’t really give us any examples of what these things or what these recommendations were. And I thought it was very intentional how they withheld or selectively withheld information and the way they structured the ASM,” said Neal.
In agreement with Neal, Dori Rosenstrauch ’23, who attended the community conversation, commented on the lack of clarity from the A.A.T.F. Although Rosenstrauch was appreciative of the specificity in the task force’s data, she felt the ASM lacked concrete information about actionable items.
Rosenstrauch said, “I think [Andover students] all just really wanted to understand what the Task Force has spent so much time on. And I’m not quite sure we got that. We were discussing in our small groups that there was a lot about the data that they collected, which I think is really important. But I think there could have been more specificity in terms of the suggestions that they mentioned, and also what actions they are going to take moving forward beyond broad statements.”
According to Angelica Paniagua ’24, the A.A.T.F. will likely be stagnant aside from collecting data due to the need for accurate data in highlighting and addressing issues in racial equity on campus. However, she felt as though Kington repeated that the task force was lacking this information, even though much of the data was specific.
Paniagua said, “I can see [the A.A.T.F.] following through with collecting data because it felt like there’s no reason not to and it felt like they actually wanted to go through with getting data. But it’s coming across as they’re not going to and they can’t do anything else besides collecting data at the moment… until they collect data and figure out where the main problems lie, which I think is reasonable in a way because they need to know where the biggest problems are and the biggest disparities in data across different racial groups on campus. And it’s important because a lot of the data was very specific, and they kept talking about how data was lacking for specific groups.”