LTE: Supporting the New Position of Director of Equity and Social Justice

The Reading Post accepts Letters to the Editor. All letters must be signed. The Reading Post reserves the right to edit or not publish any letters received. Letters do not represent the views or opinions of the Post.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in support of the new position of Director of Equity and Social Justice. As a member of the former Ad Hoc Human Rights Committee, I have been invested in this process for some time. With the Town Meeting fast approaching, I want to address some concerns residents may have about this position.  

First and foremost: Who will benefit from this new Director and board? Please note that the title uses the term “social justice.” It is meant to address all social concerns, including racial, religious, gender identity, and issues of the differently-abled. The desired outcome is for everyone to feel welcome and safe in our town.   

Second, some express fears this will limit people’s freedom of speech or be used to “police” the behavior of residents. The Director of Social Justice will not be an enforcer of laws or regulations, nor will they have the authority to make policy. They will serve as a resource to the town, schools, and community at large in much the same way that the Reading Coalition staff serve the community on issues of substance abuse. 

Why does this position fall within the Library and not another town department? We believe that the mission of this Director meshes perfectly with the greater mission of the Library, as “a center and resource for learning and civic engagement” and “a place and platform of, by, and for the people who can benefit as individuals as well as contribute to the well-being of the community.” For additional information, please refer to FAQs on the Library’s website.

With respect to questions of accountability, the new Director of Equity and Social Justice will be held to the same standard of accountability as every town employee. They will report directly to Amy Lannon and the Library Board of Trustees. The library director will provide an annual review on goals, accomplishments, and competencies. 

Lastly, there is the question of “affordability.” Is there really a need for the town to spend money on a position like this? My personal feeling is that recent events in this town indicate that we do have a need for this type of community education and outreach. I also believe a town that is viewed as especially welcoming and safe appeals to families, businesses, and visitors who will become patrons of those businesses. For a very small increase in the town budget, we are likely to reap long-term social and economic benefits.  

I sincerely hope my Precinct 1 representatives, and all Town Meeting members, will consider these points when they cast their votes next week.

Pat Calley 
Audubon Road

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