Introducing Our DDEI

 

A letter from Head of School Peter Quinn to the Peddie community.

Dear Peddie Community,

In addition to making plans and preparing for the safe reopening of school, Peddie leaders have been working this summer on issues of diversity, equity and justice. In June we committed to finding a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I am pleased to report that Diku Rogers, an English teacher at Peddie and a 2012 graduate of Peddie, will serve in that role in an interim capacity this year. Ms. Rogers begins her new responsibilities immediately. She has done diversity work as an undergraduate at Middlebury, at the TEAK fellowship in New York and has been an active supporter of student affinity groups in her faculty role at Peddie. Ms. Rogers and Dr. Kari Hart participated in SEED training this summer in preparation for DEI work with the faculty this fall.

Greg Groves, Director of Multicultural Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs

In addition, Peddie’s admission office is excited to announce that Greg Groves has been hired as the Director of Multicultural Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs, succeeding Rachel Agosto. Mr. Groves is presently the Dean of Equity and Social Justice at Christina Seix Academy in Trenton, where he also serves as High School Placement Counselor. He is a graduate of Princeton University and holds a master’s degree from University of Pennsylvania.

As we enter a new school year, we must all reaffirm that racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bias have no place at Peddie. Furthermore, we expect Peddie employees, students, and alumni to be advocates for the highest quality of citizenship on and beyond our campus. There is simply no common ground between racism, homophobia, misogyny or other identity-based biases and the highest quality of citizenship. We cannot be the school we are meant to be without better education and practice in actively opposing such behavior.

As you know, this summer I held a series of listening sessions via Zoom that allowed me to hear experiences, ideas and suggestions from dozens of alumni, parents and students. Many more alumni, parents and students have joined me in direct conversations since June. I have been challenged, confronted, corrected and encouraged. I am grateful for all of it. I also expect soon to receive a report from the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) committee, with recommendations for next steps for Peddie to make progress beginning this year. 

Also this summer, students and alumni shared some painful stories of bias and racism on social media. I was named, as well as others in our community. As adults, we also have lessons to learn. We discussed how our conduct was not received as we intended, the impact these moments have on our students, and how to approach the situation differently moving forward. As educators, we have to redouble our focus on teaching against microaggressions and confronting students when issues of bias happen, intentional or not. Handling incidents of past intentional bias will require more structured, continuing conversations. In these situations, I will confer with either Ms. Rodrigue (for faculty) or Mr. McKitish (for staff) and determine a response. If the adult presents a very different account, we will look for verification from witnesses. We will not take an anonymous post on social media as grounds for disciplinary action by itself. 

Going forward, Peddie will establish a formal process for future bias incident reporting that allows allegations to be made in confidence. I hope that we will move beyond anonymous public posts to confront challenges and seize opportunities to work productively, directly, and together. I intend to work with Ms. Rogers and a DEI committee to design a process that protects both the identity of the victim (or witnesses) and the due process obligation to the person accused.

The work before us is essential to the next best iteration of Peddie, and it is in no way a conflict to love this school and yet also see this opportunity to begin anew. I am enthusiastic that the Director of DEI will have a devoted, talented and energetic group of alumni, students and colleagues to call upon as we all join in this work.

Sincerely,

Peter Quinn