With our 5-year Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging as a launchpad, Williston is finding new ways to ensure everyone in the community feels they belong. Here are just a few (find more at williston.com/diversity).
The Importance of Names
To encourage the correct pronouciation of students’ names—which in turn helps students feel known, valued, and respected— all students now record their names for an audio file that teachers and employees can readily access via an online portal.
Connecting Black Students & Alums
Organized with input from students in Williston’s Black Student Union, we piloted a virtual workshop series featuring Black alumni in 2021-22. One alumni panel focused on career paths (banking, medicine, finance, journalism) and another on the college experience. We expect this series to further develop, with plans to invite Black alumni back to campus and virtually for roundtables, networking, and mentorship.
This fall, Williston opened Logan House as a new all-gender dormitory. All-gender housing recognizes, accommodates, and respects the complexities of gender identity and provides an opportunity for students to live in a dormitory that is not limited by traditional gender-binary housing assignments. In addition, this fall, Tristan Katz, an equity-inclusion facilitator, speaker, and writer, conducted workshops for faculty and students on gender identity and inclusion.
The Equity Fund
Now in its third year, this donor-supported fund helps underwrite the true cost of the Williston experience for students of families with very high financial need, covering the cost of such items as team gear, calculators, and pizza with friends on the weekends. Williston is actively pursuing additional funding to fully endow this fund for the future.
Lunch & Learn
Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Nikki Chambers initiated a yearlong weekly Lunch and Learn series for all faculty and staff, covering a range of topics from microaggressions to empirical case studies that give employees an opportunity to put their learning to practice. This year’s workshop series is expanding topics to include conversations about ability, gender, sexual orientation, and more.
To help the community prepare for the fall play, The Elephant Man, Theater Director Jorge Rodriguez and Dean of DEIB Nikki Chambers worked with class deans and Elsa Frankel ’23 to lead thoughtful, conversation-based workshops on issues surrounding disabilities.
More Student Support
Three faculty members have new roles in supporting the goal of belonging. Veteran science teacher Ken Choo is entering his second year as an advisor to the Asian Student Alliance, a role established to offer greater support to students from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries. Jayson Leigh is now both an Assistant Dean of DEIB in the Deans Office and an Assistant Director of Admissions, working closely with both current and prospective Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students and families. Long-time Spanish teacher, and now International Student Coordinator, Nat Simpson, is focused on helping students and families from more than 30 countries feel included and celebrated.
Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month
Williston celebrated this fall’s Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month with special campus events that celebrated the histories, cultures, and contributions of people whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Among the many highlights were dinners featuring foods from Central America and Mexico. Students from those countries came up with dishes that best represent their countries’ culture and history; our dining staff then took the list and made special menus. Other events included a performance of plena and bomba music and dance styles, and speakers in assembly.
Williston will conduct an Equity Audit in the spring of 2023 through the Center for Leadership and Educational Equity (CLEE). This deep analysis and report helps schools assess the extent to which equity is present in such areas as teacher quality, instructional setting, and student achievement and attainment.