“In Schools Committed to Equity, the Time is Now”

As reported in The Phillipian’s article that was published on March 31, “Coreen Martin and Megan Paulson Resign From Faculty Advisory Committee,” at the time of their resignation, Martin and Paulson were the only women of color on the committee. They were also the only women. Given the context of relatively high turnover of faculty of color in recent years and our institutional commitment to building an intentionally diverse faculty, it is time to take more urgent action to ensure that faculty of all gender and racial identities feel a sense of inclusion and belonging at Andover, especially in spaces where faculty and the administration collaborate. 

Following these recent resignations, an election was held to form next year’s Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC). Of those eligible to vote, just 54.67 percent of faculty members submitted ballots. The elected membership for next year represents an experienced group of colleagues who will no doubt do their best to represent the faculty. However, it is notable that all faculty on FAC next year are white, cisgender, heterosexual colleagues and thus not representative of our faculty demographics.  

Given the low voting percentage and the identity composition of the group, how well will next year’s FAC represent our diverse faculty? The current FAC is already discussing how to increase the voting percentage in the next election. Other questions for the committee should include understanding why the only women of color –– as well as the only women –– on the recent FAC resigned and whether FAC remains an effective mechanism for its stated role, which is serving as a sounding board for the Head of School and operating as a listening ear to faculty concerns at large.  

The recent resignations and election turnout and results make it clear that it is time to revisit the structures in place to support collaboration and cooperation between faculty and the administration so that the full faculty, regardless of racial or gender identity and especially those with intersecting identities, feel they have a voice. While we continue to prioritize increasing faculty diversity in our hiring practices, we must work to ensure that underrepresented faculty in our predominantly white and historically patriarchal institution feel supported in their careers. Such faculty should be able to view Andover as a long-term career opportunity in which their contributions are valued at every table. It’s time to move beyond simply building a diverse community to creating one that recognizes and overcomes equity barriers, values all peoples’ ideas, and broadens decision-making power for all faculty, especially those who have historically marginalized identities.  

Paul Gorski of the Equity Literacy Institute, in his articleAvoiding Racial Equity Detours,” identifies the “pacing for privilege detour” that is commonly embraced in schools. This happens when equity work is implemented at a pace that is comfortable for the people who are most resistant to conversations about equity rather than at a pace that demonstrates an urgency to create more equity. He writes, “In schools committed to equity, the time is now… We move on racial justice first by honestly identifying and addressing all the ways racism operates in our schools, and then we bridge the equity hesitaters to our equity vision. We refuse to equivocate on racial justice. We find the will to implement, and hold one another accountable to, policy and practice changes today, rather than waiting for an elusive consensus.” 

As stated on Andover’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webpage, the Andover Anti-Racism Task Force (AATF) undertook this charge in September 2020: “To address the inequities faced by Black, Indigenous and other people of color at Andover, and to identify new systems and structures of practice and accountability that will transform our community, including our Outreach Programs, into one that delivers on the Academy’s promise to be diverse, equitable, and inclusive for all racial groups.” Andover has since taken steps toward this promise and must commit to identifying all the ways inequity shows up on our campus, not only for Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) but also for women and genderqueer people, and hold each other accountable for solutions. For instance, we must examine the reasons behind the recent resignations. We must then examine the role of FAC as well as its composition and voting policies, and implement changes or restructuring to ensure that the collaboration between faculty and administration truly acknowledges and celebrates the diversity within our faculty. We should apply the lens of equity to every policy-making decision, and we must center the voices of BIPOC, women, and genderqueer people if we are to move beyond the pace of privilege.