Diversity changes direction under Abelmann leadership

Emma Trone, Sports Editor

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An administrative vacancy has prompted a discussion about who should be responsible for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Lab.

Ken Garcia-Gonzalez departed the role of director of diversity, equity and inclusion Sept. 1. Lab Schools Director Charlie Abelmann said he does not plan to appoint an interim director for the remainder of the school year.

However, the Parents’ Association Diversity Committee will meet and discuss throughout fall quarter how to delegate the responsibilities this year as well as plans for the following year.

“Part of that conversation will be looking at the position that we had and re-evaluating what the job description is, and what it could be,” Dr. Abelmann said. “We’re rethinking things with the intent of having a position next year, and ultimately advertising that position in the winter for next fall.”

Dr. Abelmann said having more than one individual working on diversity, equity and inclusion issues is also a consideration going forward.

“We’re also trying to think about who else in the school might take more formal responsibility for working on diversity issues,” he said. “A core question that I have is: Should there be someone in each of the schools that as part of their job also are doing work on diversity, equity and inclusion?”

In the interim, Dr. Abelmann hopes to address some of the unique challenges that come with a student body that is mostly people of color and a faculty that is over three-quarters white.

“Students in many ways, because of the diversity of the student body, are having these difficult conversations more than the faculty and staff,” he said. “Part of the issue is how we keep supporting all these student groups, and how we build support for faculty and staff on the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, and how we build a more coherent strategy for the work that we can do in different areas.”

Faculty were encouraged to read “Waking Up White,” a book by Debby Irving that explores white privilege and to participate in discussion groups about the book over the summer and into this school year. Dr. Abelmann cited these discussion groups as an example of how Lab can begin to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion measures with both students and the faculty more effectively.

He said, “I’m interested in learning more about our curriculum, I’m interested in understanding more about what we can do with professional development, I’m interested in understanding more about how we can do a better job in terms out outreach related to recruitment of faculty, so we can ensure that the applicant pools are diverse.”