Equity and Inclusion
At Buffalo Seminary, we celebrate our diverse identities and perspectives. We embrace diversity as necessary for our collective growth and achievement. To fulfill this purpose, we welcome and seek students, families, and employees who contribute to the richness of our diverse community. And we work every day to ensure that all who come within our walls have what they need to realize their potential and to participate fully in school life.
August 17, 2020
Video Update from SEM's Anti-Racist Taskforce (ART)
July 30, 2020
We are committed to the work of becoming an anti-racist community. To begin, the SEM Board of Trustees created an Anti-Racist Taskforce (ART) in June.
In July we engaged Nicole Lee, SEM Class of 1994, to help us. Ms. Lee is a nationally recognized expert in the diversity, equity, and inclusion field. She has offered this list of anti-racism resources.
June 15, 2020: We are in a moment of national reckoning.
The recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have brought our nation to a tipping point. For many white Americans, racism has long been an abstraction, but bystander recordings have brought them face to face with its cruel realities. People have taken to the streets, understanding now that there is no middle ground when it comes to racism. We are all affected by it, and we are all responsible for dismantling it.
Our predominantly white school faces its own reckoning. Few would disagree that equity, diversity, and inclusion echo SEM’s defining values. Learning in a diverse community, about diverse perspectives, is part of molding thoughtful, resourceful, and empathetic women. But when the school is called upon to live out those values, it too often falls short; direct talk about racism is avoided and action kept to a minimum. The school is committed to doing better.
Our board of trustees has established an anti-racist taskforce, led by Trustee Jennifer Roberts '92 and Vice-Chair Kate Bowen Smith ‘92. The committee will be listening to students, faculty, and alumnae and evaluating concrete changes such as affinity groups and protocols for handling diversity conflicts.
As a beginning for parents, we offered the webinar below.
Please take this feedback survey if you attended or you watch it now.
This webinar is one component of Buffalo Seminary's work to combat racism.
In this moment, racism fills the images, words, and videos streaming over social media, and SEM students are overwhelmed with conflicting information and emotions. The faculty and staff recognize this highly fraught atmosphere, and seek to support all SEM students so that each girl may truly be proud of her ability to shape society rather than to be controlled by it.
Racism’s long, shameful shadow continues to hang over America today—it poisons our institutions, practices, and attitudes. For far too long, parents of color have shouldered the burden of talking to their children about race in order to protect them. SEM’s students of color have also felt pressure to educate their white peers about racial issues. Racism, however, is not a problem for people of color to solve. Ending racism will only be possible when white Americans accept their responsibility in this work. History has shown us that legislative policies alone are not enough to cure us of this societal ill. White Americans must also change the way we think, talk and act about race.
We created this webinar to provide white families with resources to be able to talk with their daughters about racism, and to discuss the role white people must play to build a safer and more just world. Racism, white supremacy and white privilege are difficult and uncomfortable to talk about, but should not be taboo. As writer James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
We are grateful for the families, faculty members, and community partners who attended our webinar, and for their support of the work we must all undertake. This is one part of SEM’s continuing commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we are hopeful that this webinar will provide a path for all of the SEM community to have these essential conversations.
Panelists and Contributors: Caitlin Cass, Susan Drozd, Jennifer Goetz-Bixby, Kyle & Doug Hopkins, Karen Knab, Ann Leslie, Caitlin Littlefield, Jesse Mank, Heather McCarthy, Jess Silverstein, Natalie Stothart, Alie Wright
Gender Identity Policy
Buffalo Seminary was founded to challenge the limits placed on girls because of their gender.
We expect our students to examine the role gender plays in their lives. Some students may come to question their own gender identity, or may not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. We support all our students on their journey toward self-knowledge, and we provide resources for any student with questions about gender identity. We are a school that empowers women. And we welcome those students who do not conform to society’s traditional expectations of gender. We provide accommodations -- consistent with our identity as a school for girls --for our non-binary or transgender students. If the accommodations we are able to provide do not meet that student’s needs, we will work to find a placement for that student in a suitable school. At all times, we will be guided by the best interests of the student and the school community.