Loomis Chaffee’s Anti-Racist Response Proves Semi-Adequate

Nathan Ko '23, Contributor

With civil unrest peaking during this summer, Loomis Chaffee launched anti-racism initiatives that are adequate in some aspects and lacking in others. These initiatives will successfully address a wide range of racial issues on campus, such as faculty diversity and the disciplinary process. However, these initiatives fall short of properly confronting systemic racism in the United States.

One issue Loomis Chaffee is trying to tackle is the lack of faculty diversity, which appears to not be as robust as our student diversity. It is an issue that I find critical, and Loomis does too.
“Our faculty need[s] to reflect the world around us,” Head of School Dr. Sheila Culbert said.

In my first two years at LC, I could already see how faculty diversity has drastically improved. For example, the English department, partially known for its lack of diversity, has introduced many teachers of color this year. Dr. Culbert has been a strong advocate for faculty diversity and continues to fight for such diversity.
“We’re nowhere near where we need to be, but we’re on the right path [to achieve faculty diversity],” Dr. Culbert said.

Loomis has also established an excellent solution for the disciplinary process on campus. The original problem was that there could be implicit racial bias in the disciplinary committee. To confront this issue, Loomis has chosen to create a committee, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) alumni, to investigate whether a certain bias is present in the way Loomis conducts disciplinary work.

There is also an overlooked yet frequent disciplinary problem on campus: minor punishments, such as being called out in the dormitory, that are disproportionately handed out to certain racial groups.

“Who gets called out for not taking their dishes back in the dining hall? Who gets called out in the dormitory for being too noisy? Who gets called out for not being in dress code?” Dr. Culbert said.

It never occurred to me that this was an issue, yet I felt like I unconsciously experienced such disciplinary measures disproportionately. Loomis Chaffee has not yet confronted the problem of unproportional disciplines. Collecting stories of these incidents, such as those posted by @blackatloomis, would be a great start to investigating how we could confront this issue.

There are countless other anti-racism initiatives launched by Loomis, such as its SEED training, reporting protocols, and the annual report of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), which I wholly applaud. All the initiatives above deal with systemic racism if you consider Loomis Chaffee as a system. However, if we are dealing with systemic racism in the nation as a whole, which Dr. Culbert agrees we should be dealing with, Loomis has not done its part in fighting nationwide systemic racism.

Although our TAG (Thursday advisory group) meetings, webinars, and planned convocations spread awareness regarding the ways racism unfolds, they do not truly fight systemic racism. Only having tough conversations and understanding problems do not mitigate systemic racism. The school also needs to put forth concrete actions to play its part in solving the problem of systemic racism.

This, of course, is not an easy task, mostly because fighting the nationwide systemic racism often deals with involvement in politics.
“This issue of the intertwining of politics with social justice and issues to do with racism is quite complicated,” Dr. Culbert said.

However, if we uphold Loomis’ core values and garner the support of the student body and faculty, Loomis can establish a bold plan to mitigate systemic racism. Even if it dives into somewhat political territory when advocating social justice in the United States, Loomis Chaffee should establish a bolder plan to combat systemic racism.

Trying to combat systemic racism will be one of the most challenging steps Loomis will have to take, but don’t we, as a school, have a moral obligation to try to right the inequities that have weighed down many racial groups for generations?

Loomis’ current initiatives are semi-adequate, but once we decide to persistently confront systemic racism, we can start upholding what Loomis’ values truly are.