Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Williston
We believe an inclusive community is central to the school’s mission to inspire students to live with purpose, passion, and integrity.
As an independent school that draws students from across the country and around the world, we recognize that diversity and inclusion promote cross-cultural dialogue, expose students to a deeper and wider swath of humanity, and ultimately, make our community stronger. We commit to welcoming to this community all segments of society, including members of all racial and ethnic identities, religions, sexual orientations and gender identities, abilities, ages, and socio-economic statuses.
At Williston, we’ve laid a foundation that calls for respectful communication; deliberate choices that promote diversity and inclusion both in admissions and in hiring; and frequent activities that work toward equity in the school setting and beyond, such as Cultural Identity Discussions, an annual Why Not Speak Day, and guest speakers that highlight social justice. Our diversity and inclusion work is also tied to our curriculum, where we endeavor to include multiple perspectives in all disciplines. We believe a diverse and inclusive community helps prepare students for success as they move into college and onto their professional lives.
Diversity and inclusion are part of every day at Williston. Here are some specific programs that take place throughout the year:
Why Not Speak Day (WNS Day)
Cultural Identity Discussions
Day of Silence
MSU Block Party
Martin Luther King Day Speaker
Multicultural Student Union
Women’s Action Alliance
Why Not Speak Day Committee
Northampton Pride Parade
Trinity College Hip Hop Festival
NAIS People of Color Conference
NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference
AINSE Student of Color Conference
You can find Director of Inclusion Erin Davey cheering on the Wildcats on game day, making announcements during assembly, and cooking up fun weekend activities. She also makes sure students are thinking about the bigger-picture issues of diversity and inclusion.
In 2017, Williston launched Why Not Speak Day (WNS Day), organized by Davey and a committee of engaged students. The group made the conscious decision to morph disparate celebrations of diversity into a day-long conference, and the group met for months to create programming that would impact the student body. The group scheduled a keynote speaker, and organized 30 workshops that were given by students, faculty, and visiting presenters. Workshop topics included issues of race, gender, identity, cultural appropriation, and white privilege.
The difference between empathy—akin to “celebrating diversity”—and inclusion, where true connection begins, is important to Davey, who studied sociology at Connecticut College and has taught psychology at Williston. She sees inclusion as a critical step toward connection. “Inclusion is a practice, it’s active,” she said. Diversity acknowledges that people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and ages should be accepted and treated equally, she said. Inclusion goes a step further. It is the act of accepting others, differences and commonalities, alike, and in doing so, forging connections, to make our community stronger.