This December, Deerfield will send students and teachers to the People of Color (POC) Conference in Denver, which in turn has prompted an upcoming diversity survey on campus. In these two ways, Deerfield is demonstrating a growing effort at diversity awareness on campus.
To prepare for the conference, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, directors Ann-Marie White, Ayodeji Perrin, and Debra Dohrmann will issue a diversity survey labeled ‘Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism’, or the AIM Survey. The purpose is to “take the pulse of the climate on campus,” Perrin explained.
AIM is a two-part evaluation: an online portion and a committee-based assessment of campus life. These committees, comprised of trained faculty members, will dissect daily life at Deerfield by “investigating standard areas of school life,” said Ms. Dohrmann. They will categorize diversity by religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and socio-economic background.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs monitors the cultural climate of the school. Their current task is “to set up a blueprint for what the office would look like with a dean at its head,” said Perrin; which would make the office a more “permanent part” of school life.
The goal of the POC Conference they will attend in December is to “celebrate and nurture equity and justice in independent schools,” according to a conference brochure. In simpler terms, the conference will let people “proclaim their own identities,” according to Mr. Perrin. With this in mind, the Deerfield group will discuss the Identity Project, a school-wide initiative inspired by Kip Fulbeck, last year’s Martin Luther King Day speaker. This project allows students to write statements about their identity on index cards that may eventually be compiled into a published book.
The conference’s host, the National Association of Independent Schools, described the conference as the “flagship of our equality and justice initiatives.”
But as Mr. Perrin pointed out, once these varying motions are completed, the Office of Multicultural Affairs cannot assume their work is done. In the meantime, student leaders and faculty members will attend diversity workshops to learn about multicultural life at boarding schools.
“Diversity work is an endless process because it is a process of introspection” said Mr. Perrin.