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Trustees Affirm Fight Against Racial Injustice

Groton School's Board of Trustees, following its meeting of June 19, released the following letter:

Dear Groton Community,
 
The events of the past few weeks have provided our nation and Groton School with the overdue opportunity for reflection and introspection. Many Groton students, alumni, faculty, staff, and trustees have joined marches, written letters, and shared social media posts with their experiences and concerns regarding racial justice. We are listening to alumni who are sharing painful personal stories about issues of race at Groton.

Groton School and the Board of Trustees stand in solidarity with those seeking to end systemic racism and realize justice in the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. We are inspired by the courageous activism of people of all races standing up for justice in the world, and we aspire to be part of the solution that ends conscious and subconscious racism. As trustees representing the school, we stand against discrimination of all forms and are committed to action.

The board, at its recent June meeting, affirmed its determination to fight racial injustice, to listen with open minds and hearts, and to continue amplifying the voice of Headmaster Temba Maqubela, who decisively chooses action over rhetoric in his fight for inclusion. Members of the Board  of Trustees already are meeting with alumni and discussing their requests for change, and we plan to broaden the dialogue about issues such as racial and gender equity, sustainable investment, and curricular review to all Grotonians.

We fully support Mr. Maqubela’s vision of inclusion, which he brought to the school more than seven years ago. Our headmaster has firsthand experience with systemic racism and is committed to fighting it. To quote him directly, he and his wife Vuyelwa “make Black lives matter daily by making sure our Black boys and girls, and all children, learn and succeed in an inclusive environment.”

Groton’s trustees recognize that the school has never been sheltered from systemic racism, both overt and insidious. When we share the progress of diversity and inclusion initiatives, we understand that these steps forward do not solve long-entrenched problems. Still, we are proud that the number of underrepresented minorities in the student body has nearly doubled since Mr. Maqubela joined Groton in 2013, that Black students routinely are elected as senior prefects, that GRACE (GRoton Accelerate Challenge Enrich) is addressing preparation gaps, and that the $50 million-plus raised for GRAIN (GRoton Affordability and INclusion) was earmarked by the board in perpetuity for inclusion. Our own faces have changed as well: in the past ten years, the number of women serving as trustees has doubled (now twelve of twenty-seven), and our four officers include two women and two African Americans. Trustees of color more than doubled during those ten years, from 12 percent to 27 percent.

Students, too, are making a difference, and the board will continue to listen to their ideas. Last year, responding to a student-led initiative, the board enthusiastically approved four new busts—of Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi—which will be installed in the Schoolroom this fall.  Students are active as well, alongside faculty, in the school's Diversity & Inclusion task force.

Given this progress and the school's focus on inclusion, the Board of Trustees is hopeful that the experiences of students of color have improved. Still, we are well aware that even the positive programs of recent years do not remediate individuals' experiences nor do they adequately address the issue of racism. We wholeheartedly acknowledge that much additional work needs to be done around Groton’s Circle. An education is incomplete without varied perspectives, and those who speak out remind us how important it is to examine engrained institutional biases and continually to awaken all in the Groton community to their hidden prejudices and to the need to stand up for others. The trustees and administration are dedicated to further improvements and will invest the time, effort, focus, and resources necessary to achieve the objectives that we all share.

The board offers sincere gratitude to those who have opened the dialogue around race and who have helped trustees and many others see what they might not otherwise have seen. We look forward to working alongside all of you in the name of racial justice during this historic moment for Groton and for the world.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Pyne '77, P'12, '15, President
Gary Hill '83, Vice President
Peter Erichsen '74, Secretary
Diana Ferguson '81, Treasurer

On behalf of the Groton School Board of Trustees
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