Brunswick School’s Strong Response


Brunswick School rolls out rapid response to address systemic racism.

By Anne W. Semmes

Brunswick School, with an enrollment of 1000-plus, plans now to increase its percentage of black students. Contributed photo

Henceforth, the headmaster of the Brunswick School will have a new title, “Head of School.” With its enrollment of 1000-plus students, with 20 percent reported to “reflect diversity, there will be an increase in the percentage of black students” to be more reflective of the community and nation of which we are a part.” There’s more to come, but first a little history.

The day that George Floyd was laid to rest, June 9, Brunswick School had already begun a reflective process, meeting with their students of color of the class of 2020. A request went out to students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni to share their thoughts and perspectives. By June 13 they had received “two well-crafted and thoughtful letters, one from black alumni/alumnae from both Brunswick School and Greenwich Academy and another from alumni/alumnae of color and white students from both schools.”

Those two letter writers that included a reported 60 Brunswick signatories – were forceful enough with their list of suggestions for “improving the Brunswick experience for black students…and all students in general,” wrote Tom Philip, Head of School, and Tom O’Malley’ 85, Board Chair, to have those black alumni letter writers in particular invited “to join the administration and trustees in our ongoing conversations as their input is…invaluable.”

Those two letters (others would follow), plus emails and calls, brought by June 18 the impressive “Call to Action,” that includes the initiatives: to increase the percentage of black faculty; increase its outreach to identify promising black students and faculty; significantly increase financial aid to make Brunswick more accessible; create a transportation plan to better serve students from diverse neighborhoods.

The school will “enhance its programs for anti-racist training for all students and faculty; the school will perform an internal review of the academic curriculum at all grade levels to ensure the full and accurate accounting of the history, struggles, and contributions of diverse people in general and black people in particular; the school will create a Faculty of Color Committee for “mutual support, student mentorship, and recruitment and retention efforts for other faculty of color.”

“The School will institute an Alumni of Color Committee through the Alumni and Career Office charged with mentoring current students and recent graduates.” And note that the school’s anonymous email drop box “SafeWick” will be “promoted as a safe and appropriate avenue to alert the diversity, equity, and inclusion team, as well as the administration, of any instances of racism, including microaggressions.”

The bottom-line as expressed by Head of School Philip and Board Chair O’Malley to the members of the Brunswick School Community: “Brunswick has unequivocally reaffirmed its conviction that Black Lives Matter.”

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