Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
A national reckoning on race has given way to deep and meaningful conversations with alumnae and current students, calling on us to focus more intentionally and urgently on how we can change to improve our school environment for current and future students of color at the Mount. Within three weeks of beginning her tenure as President of Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Sister Charlene Diorka, SSJ announced the first steps of an intentional, measured focus for diversity, equity & inclusion at the Mount, named Project Cilia, which will usher in a series of short- and long-term changes at our institution.
Project Cilia references “reconciliation,” a word deeply rooted in the mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Cilia, the foundation of the word reconciliation, means “eyelash.” Sister underscored that she would stand eyelash to eyelash with alumnae of color to acknowledge and apologize for any instances of racism that they have experienced in the past at the Mount and call upon the entire Mount community to stand face to face in unified intolerance for racial injustice.
While a long-term effort that will unfold over several years, Project Cilia includes short-term initiatives that will be executed within the 2020-2021 school year. A number of these suggestions were made during four in-person and virtual listening sessions held in the summer of 2020 and attended by hundreds of alumnae of color and their allies. For this input and gift of time, we are so thankful.
Project Cilia contains three pillars: Community, Climate and Content/Curriculum.
This pillar will ensure we reflect continually on who we are with intentional focus on diversifying the Mount Saint Joseph Academy community as a whole. This includes focused efforts on:
- Recruitment of students of color
- Recruitment of administrators, faculty, & staff of color
- Continuous monitoring of inclusion in athletics and extracurriculars
- Recruitment of candidates of color for the Board of Directors and alumnae board
- Establishment of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee of the Board of Directors
- Ongoing encouragement and support of student Diversity Club
- Establishment of regular communication between the MSJA Administration and the newly-formed MSJA Black Alumnae Association
This pillar calls us to foster and maintain a safe and supportive environment that respects diversity in our institution as an imperative to truly fulfill the mission of the Mount. This includes:
- Establishment and enforcement of anti-racism policy at the Academy
- Establishment of memorandum of understanding to be executed annually by every Mount administrator, faculty/staff member, parent and student which declares understanding of anti-racism policy and consequences for non-compliance
- Execution of yearly trainings for all administration, faculty, students and staff by a third party
- Execution of campus climate study to identify issues and improvements;
- Improved internal communication regarding previously-established Mount shuttle van service to students who rely upon SEPTA transportation to commute to/from school
Content and Curriculum
This pillar measures our commitment to infusing diverse perspectives into the learning experience of our prospective and current students to inspire conversation, critical thinking, empathy and understanding of marginalized groups in our society. This includes:
- Continued and increased focus on school programming, including but not limited to, the school’s annual Black History Month celebration, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, reputable guest speakers and programs, book clubs, etc.
- Audit of curriculum and coursework to identify new approaches to subject matter and/or new courses to more deeply explore diversity, equity and inclusion themes