Shrewsbury selectmen move forward with forming diversity committee

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – The Board of Selectmen made progress on forming a committee on diversity, equity and inclusion at their July 21 meeting. Originally scheduled for their July 14 meeting, the board tabled the discussion so they could devote more time on this important initiative.

Chair Beth Casavant put together a draft to begin discussion of the committee’s composition and its charge.

“Obviously, we want to get a very diverse population because that’s a lot of what this study is about,” said Selectman Maurice DePalo.

He suggested that the charge of the committee could involve engaging with the community in interviews and information surveys, working to identify race based disparities and issues around inclusion, reaching out to local agencies to gather information, creating a report identifying current practices and disparities, and making recommendations to bring back to the selectmen for their consideration.

“I agree with Mr. DePalo,” remarked Selectman John Samia. “I think we need to understand where we are. I do believe that we need to analyze what we do and I think we need to know based on recommendations through this task force where we desire to go….I think this will play a large role in enabling all residents to thrive and will inform how we move forward with long-term goals.”

Added Casavant: “I think that a committee like this could offer a safe space for discussions to happen. I think it is important that this committee is looking at what we do in Shrewsbury through the lens of relevant research and best practices that are happening in our neighboring communities but also at the state level and beyond.”

A motion was made by Selectman Jim Kane that the board solicit between 20 and 30 residents to participate in the committee and report their findings within a 12-month period.

He was adamant that the board be the appointing body of this committee.

Selectman John Lebeaux agreed and that there should be firm requirements that the committee must adhere to.

The board voted unanimously in favor.