Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Taft's Commitment to Diversity
Taft is an intentionally diverse institution whose members work to acknowledge, respect, and empathize with people of all different identifiers, such as race, socioeconomic status, gender identity and expression, education, age, ability, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, language, nationality, and religion. We foster these habits and dispositions in accordance with Taft’s mission to educate the whole student, thus preparing individuals morally and pragmatically to become global citizens. As such, community members commit to participate in and support ongoing equity and inclusion programming through curricular and co-curricular offerings, professional development, residential life, and local and global partnerships. Moreover, members of the Taft community strive to understand and combat the symptoms and causes of systematic oppression — ranging from implicit biases to microaggressions to discriminatory policies, practices and traditions — that benefit privileged groups and disadvantage marginalized groups. While at Taft and beyond, community members commit to affirm and honor the lived experiences of others, to willingly challenge inherited beliefs and ideologies, and consequently learn, grow, and serve.
At Taft, we are committed to the work of becoming more inclusive as an institution and as individuals. This work requires effort, thought and care, courage, humility and time. It is never ending, with space for new ideas and understanding, growth, and improvement. This work helps us prepare out students to be informed, moral, and just global citizens.
“I like to think that there is more than enough room for everyone at the table of Taft, and that we genuinely embrace the fact that it’s a noisy, colorful, and crowded table —boys and girls, men and women, from scores of nations, worshipping in diverse manner, in all ways of living as sexual beings, with a beautiful palette of skin colors animated by the wonderful richness of ethnicity and charged by the electrical difference of politics."—William R. MacMullen '78 (excerpted from his Fall 2016 Convocation Address)
Programs and Initiatives to Support Diversity and Inclusion
Taft facilitates a number of student groups that both support and celebrate our remarkably diverse student body. Our affinity groups offer spaces for students of particular identifiers to gather and converse about their shared experience both at Taft and beyond. Some of our clubs offer students opportunities to share their unique cultures and experiences with our broader community.
- Morning Meeting Speakers: Twice each week, Tafties gather in Bingham Auditorium for Morning Meeting, where speakers from across the aisle and across the globe grant exposure to new or unique perspectives, and offer deeper, broader insights into the world.
- The Global Studies and Service Curriculum, established in 2008, reflects Taft's commitment to preparing students to become global citizens. Through course work, co-curricular programs, and service to communities both local and global, GSS students develop self-awareness, fluency in a plurality of perspectives, act as stewards of the environment, and effect change as active citizens in order to advance causes of equity and justice.
- Global Leadership Institute (GLI) is a rigorous co-curricular program that brings students from Taft and Waterbury public schools together both in and out of the classroom for shared learning and leadership experiences. The program's mission is to develop a generation of global leaders with a genuine concern for world problems, multiple perspectives on global issues, and the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to worldwide change.
- Community Service Day is the embodiment of Taft's school motto. For one day in October, the Taft community sets lessons, homework, and daily academic life aside to dedicate themselves in full to serving the local community. More than 700 strong, Tafties lead projects both on and off campus, serving more than 60 individual constituent groups and organizations in at least a dozen area towns.
- Each year on MLK Day, Taft students and faculty members engage in a day of programming to reflect on the work and passion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The day starts with a Unity Breakfast with guests from service and program partners from the greater Waterbury community. Other highlights of the day include a keynote address or performance, film screenings and academic workshops, and a Multicultural Arts Celebration, which features song, dance, and spoken word performances by students and faculty.
- WorldFest is an opportunity for members of the Taft community—who hail from more than 40 countries worldwide—to share the customs, culture, food, and traditions of their homeland. Students don native dress, prepare regional foods, and celebrate their heritage in song and dance during the festival.
- Taft's Summer Reading Program selections are chosen carefully, and often reflect current social issues, common campus themes, and matters of historical significance. Many of the books—and many of the authors—are award-winning and widely renowned. Several of the recent selections have included themes about race, including: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah; All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brandon Kiely; and Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. Students and faculty engage in a series of summer reading forums in the fall. This may include dedicated academic blocks and conversations at sit-down dinner. Whenever possible, the authors of our summer reading selections will visit campus for Morning Meeting programs and classroom visits.
- The White Anti-Racism Caucus is open to all faculty and staff who identify as white, and welcomes all such individuals with their various levels of curiosity and apprehension, to join together in working toward the following goals: exploring, understanding, and naming aspects of white identity and behavioral practices; identifying, acknowledging, and striving to unlearn assumptions, biases, and discriminatory social practices that are inherent to whiteness; continuing to learn about the historical and ongoing oppression and marginalization of People of Color; supporting, counseling, and pushing each other as we work to increase our racial literacy; actively supporting initiatives that seek to improve the safety and quality of life of People of Color in our community and beyond; forming partnerships with white-identifying Taft students in order to increase impact, strategize initiatives on campus, and show our commitment to institutional change.
- Supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Taft: You may show your support by directing your Annual Fund gift to DEI allowing Taft to maintain and evolve diversity, equity, and inclusion programming and services for the school community. Or you may choose to support the DEI Endowment Fund which provides permanent support and lends to the fiscal stability and enables Taft to make dependable, long-term investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion programming and services of the school.
This original poem was written and performed by students Lauren and SeArah at Taft's 2016 Multicultural Arts Performance, a part of our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day activities.