In the Spring of 2016, the Office of Equity and Inclusion was established in order to enhance both the student and curricular experiences by addressing social injustices that students experience in everyday life. The Office of Equity and Inclusion has been in the process of development for the past three years since Director Jamal Adams ‘90 initiated the framework for the idea. Adams said, “I, along with Mr. Kozakowski, had started to see a trend of both colleges and high schools adopting a more intentional way to look at identity, so we decided to do something of our own.”
The idea arose in the Spring of 2015 when Adams approached principal Frank Kozakowski with his original vision. Adams said, “I spent most of 2015 and a lot of 2016 investigating the idea and then last year was the actual first idea, which was the survey.”
According to Adams, the survey of inclusivity and multiculturalism was given to students in order for the administration to get a sense of how the student population felt towards issues of specific social injustice topics that include racism, sexism, and sexual orientation.
Through this department Adams hopes that the student population will be shaped and influenced in a way that allows them to love the school mission of being men for and with others who are compassionate, empathetic, and able to speak from multiple perspectives on social justice topics.
Adams said that the goal this year is to foster an environment that allows students to engage in conversation about topics that are difficult to talk about. He said, “We could have honest and open [discourse]regardless of bipartisan views or even our ethnic, socioeconomic, sexual orientation, and whatever perspectives we have. We really can create a place where people feel like they can have these courageous dialogues without worry of reprimand or ridicule.”
In addition to helping Loyola institute the Office of Equity of Inclusion, Adams has also helped in choosing a “Community Book” to be distributed to every teacher, faculty and staff member. At the end of last school year, copies of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me were distributed.
According to Adams, the work is a narrative of Coates’ life story as an African-American man growing up in Baltimore and later attending Howard University and eventually becoming a writer for The Atlantic magazine. Adams said that “Coates is one of the most preeminent critical thinkers about race in our country.”
A 12-person committee of faculty, staff and administrators helped select Between the World and Me, which addresses race and equity and will be used as a catalyst of discussion at a colloquium conversation next spring. Adams said, “Dr. Ann Holmquist, Mr. Kozakowski and I thought that since there’s going to be a delegate of professionals who are going to this colloquium we thought it would be best to be in conversation about race and equity and how our community, particularly our faculty can help foster this conversation.”
Adams added, “If there was ever a place in the world that could be world class and whose mission and values model the idea that we should have difficult conversations and really want to try and have an egalitarian kind of community––where we’re all equal and we’re all valued––we could do it.”
Principal Frank Kozakowski believes that the Office of Equity and Inclusion will help Loyola grow as a community that is free of prejudice. He said, “Moving forward in this next year, we as a community will learn to listen to one another, live with one another, and grow with each other.”