Guest Post: Thoughts on DEI Workshop at the Town Select Board Meeting, by Mikaela Nadeau
This is a hard thing for me to write, but I feel that it is something that needs to be written. I want to first commend the individuals who take the time to participate in board and committee meetings, I thank the volunteers who write about those meetings for the individuals who do not have the particular time to sit through all the nitty-gritty details of a two or three hour meeting. Be that as it may however, there are some things that get left out or not portrayed as accurately when given spark note synopses of meetings. The Select board meeting of May 15th was no exception, and as such I feel the need to include the full extent of one topic in particular - the item of scheduling a select board workshop on education around concepts of DEI - including but not limited to marginalised communities, policies and procedures.
DEI for those who are unaware, is the concept of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles and practices for companies, schools, and government. It is also the single most touchy subject for many in recent years. Regardless of any political or social persuasion, this particular subject can be hard for many because it requires you to unpack any preconceived notions and tackle them in new understandings of that which has been brought forward in recent years. Education of self is a difficult process, and for many it requires an inward look at your own personal preconceived notions and standings on subjects and policies.
I have participated in some educational aspects of DEI training for myself and for other roles in which I participate in. I admit that there are aspects that were new, difficult, and hard to unpack. I also feel like I stand in the crux of two continents divided in how DEI is used in todays standards, and furthermore can attest that I also have some difficulties with the ways in which it is taught by certain individuals, and how it can be weaponised for politics and social division.
The alarming portion about this particular agenda item on the May 15th select board meeting has to do with using a workshop to come up with ways to address future issues by using the education to apply changes in policies, ordinances, and procedures. The town currently has in place a Code of Ethics policy and Personnel Policy which uphold the Maine State Laws as it applies to equal opportunity of employment and the treatment of individuals.
I cannot make a statement as to what potential ideas would come up in this proposed executive training to be conducted by an individual of whom the MMA (Maine Municipal Association) would appoint, but unless it deals specifically with ways in which the town can have procedures in place with statements about already illegal acts of trespass, and vandalism as it pertains to crimes committed by individuals or persons unknown - than I am unsure how I feel about such actions. Especially as it pertains to the actual information and comments provided by Town Selectman Ward in his comments at that particular town meeting. The idea of a land acknowledgement statement, and “I also think our town could benefit from some of that education, but I also think that would be in partnership with some other entities like the library for instance,”.
I think in a time where the library is already dealing with the controversy of stepping outside of it's roles, that the future idea of using it to educate the town citizens about DEI is a gross overstep of what the town can and cannot do for it’s citizenry. Education is a personal journey, morals and ethics are a personal journey. I believe that the role of ethics, morals, and education begin at home. Moving outwards from the home it develops as a sense of self to further educate oneself in the understanding of current subjects and other issues in their environment.
Any action by the town or the town selectmen to control or attempt to control how one thinks, speaks, or feels is grossly out of line. To use tax payer funded properties as a way to further that reach is also an over step that should be avoided, especially if sanctioned and promoted by the town as an official policy or outreach proposal. I would hope that the town of New Gloucester in its exploration of diversity, equity, and inclusion would also welcome those of varying opinions, beliefs, and ideals - otherwise is this policy really about diversity, equity and inclusion?
For further reading sources:
*This is a guest post by Mikaela Nadeau. The views expressed are those of Mikaela Nadeau, and not endorsed by the New Gloucester GOP. The New Gloucester GOP supports the right of individuals to submit guest blog posts freely, and without censorship. If you are interested in sharing an article, or post please send all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org