A strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion

March 8, 2021

Masters’ admission office––along with many other school administrators and faculty––was challenged by students to take meaningful action to make its processes more equitable, especially in regards to racial and ethnic diversity. 

The students’ vehicle for their criticisms was primarily the @blackattms Instagram account, which serves as a platform for current and former students to share their experiences with racism on campus. 

In late July, Masters responded with ‘A Better Masters: An Action Plan for an Inclusive Community,’ a multi-pronged plan with the purpose of making the school more equitable. 

One of the seven sections of the plan was dedicated to admissions, which outlined three action steps the school would take: a direct reference to the school’s “commitment to being an anti-racist and anti-bias school” in all prospective student interviews, an anti-racist and anti-bias statement added to enrollment forms for all enrolling families to sign and new admissions programming for prospective families of color.

Katznelson said that each of these three steps have been taken by the admissions office. 

“We want people to know from the jump that this is a school that believes in this, and that we want you to be in this journey with us,” she said.

Katznelson, who worked as the Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at Wildwood School in Los Angeles, Calif. for nearly six years before coming to Masters, said she’s seen a new emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion in the greater admissions community over the past few years.

“I feel like before, a lot of admissions professionals talked about issues of multiculturalism or diversity or equity, and I think they did it because it was good marketing for them––they didn’t want to be the school with all white, rich, privileged kids, and they didn’t want to seem like they were an elitist institution,” she said. 

Now, after the social unrest caused by the murder of George Floyd last May, and especially after critical posts from student-led accounts like @blackattms, she says that has changed. 

“Kids are awake, and recognizing that there are a lot of problems in the world right now about these issues,” she said. “If schools weren’t paying attention to what was happening around race and class before, they are now.”

Kids are awake, and recognizing that there are a lot of problems in the world right now about these issues. If schools weren’t paying attention to what was happening around race and class before, they are now.”

— Emma Katznelson, Director of Enrollment Management

Katznelson emphasized that when the admissions team reads through applications, her team talks about the racial makeup of a class “in a very candid and transparent way.” If admission officers’ first priority is assembling a class of students academically and socially prepared to join the community, she said the next step is looking at the racial and gender breakdowns of a class. 

Junior Caleb Jakes, who founded Students of Color Empowering Excellence and Mentorship (SCEEM) at Masters, said he felt optimistic about the new admissions policies, but he emphasized the importance of the school sustaining its attention on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“Let’s hope this continues every year, we can’t fall back when things go back to normal, meaning when these things weren’t talked about as often,” he said. “Will the same procedures be held to the same degree as they are now?”

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