Dear Stevens Alumni and Alumni Families,

Over the past few weeks, we've been listening to the @blackatstevenscoop account. The stories that we read shocked us, but we know that for some in our community, these stories were sadly reminiscent of what they, or their children, have experienced in this school and other institutions throughout this country. We view this sharing of stories as nothing less than a call to action, and we want to let you know what we are doing to address anti-Black racism at Stevens, better support our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community members and make our school more equitable for all.

  • We’ve started the fact-finding process for reviewing posts made to date, partnering with an independent consultant to evaluate. This process will take place in August.
  • We look to our forums to get specific feedback from our community, specifically from our Black families, students, alumni, and alumni families. Some of these forums have already taken place. We are also now ready to schedule focus groups for BIPOC families, students, alumni, alumni groups, and faculty and staff. We continue to believe that only by first listening to our BIPOC community members can we hope to move forward together towards any sort of meaningful change. Emails with details on these additional forums will be sent this week.
  • We will also be providing a detailed report later in the summer outlining actions we have taken in the past few years, work that was already planned and is in progress, and specific work we know we need to do.

Starting this month, and based on feedback from our forums, we will be focusing on:
  • Curriculum - many of the issues raised in posts around curriculum have been reviewed and updated over the past few years - for example, education about different types of hair, prohibiting the reading of racial slurs in primary documents, and a focus on diverse texts and voices for curriculum from 2s through 8th grade. We also have some recent changes that are currently already in progress, such as the adoption of the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards in our curriculum. We look forward to feedback from the forums to help us understand the impact of these changes so far, as well as additional ways that we can improve our curriculum going forward.
  • Support - we recognize that we need to make sure our BIPOC students, families, and faculty/staff are supported. We will continue to build on the affinity groups created in the 19-20 academic year for faculty and staff as well as students. This past year we launched Student Choices; Student Voices - affinity, alliance and interest-based groups for 5th-8th grade students including Students of Color, LGBTQ+, and Gender Roles. This fall we will launch parent/guardian affinity groups.
  • Internal Policies and Procedures - utilizing our newly added position of Human Resources Manager, we will refine our HR processes, which already include specific anti-harassment and bullying policies, to include explicit processes to address incidents of racism and bias.
  • Building upon extensive faculty training with Sara Wicht and in-house workshops on creating anti-racist classrooms, in August the Leadership Team is attending the NJAIS workshop featuring Ali Michael entitled Why Schools Need to Talk About Race and Racism - Especially White People. In the past, our faculty has attended a wide variety of diversity conferences sponsored by both national and regional independent school organizations.
  • Creating a more broadly anti-racist culture by collaborating first with those who have been most harmed by racism and then seeking input from our entire community.
  • A Board of Trustees review of the feedback from our forums with Black community members. The Board will continue to receive emails directly from the community on these important issues and provide the support and resources needed to meet the equity and inclusion goals as established by Sergio and his team.

In addition to regular email updates on the items listed above and many others, we’ll also be posting updates and tracking progress towards our goals on our website. We know this work will not be easy or quick; indeed to become an actively anti-racist school is work that will both reach into the past to acknowledge our failings and extend far beyond the time of those who are in our school today. But it is a path that we must walk, and we must start on it together. 

Ingrid Rasmussen
Board Chair
Sergio Alati, Ed.D
Head of School