News

Board of Trustees Announce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Initiatives for 2020-21 and Beyond


"My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life." Pope Francis (June 30, 2020)

"Amigos míos, nosotros no Podemos tolerar ni hacer la vista gorda ante el racismo y la exclusión de ninguna forma y pretender defender lo sagrado de la vida humana." El Papa Francisco (30 de junio de 2020)

Spanish version/versión en el español. Por favor lea el resumen de las iniciativas estratégicas de DEI para el año 2020 y más adelante.


Dear Jesuit High School Community,

Over the summer, we have spent considerable time discerning how to create a more just, equitable and inclusive school community at Jesuit High School.

We have received heartfelt feedback from our students and alumni about their experiences as students of color, which have provided a clear call to action for our community. We dedicate ourselves to the challenge of examining who we are as a Catholic, Jesuit school, recognizing that we have caused trauma and been complicit in systemic racism. We are committed to specific action steps to create positive change for the future and understand that we have a great deal of work to do in order to create a truly safe and welcoming environment for all at our school.

As a Catholic and Jesuit community, we believe that all of humanity is made in God's image. We unequivocally condemn all forms of prejudice, racism, and injustice towards all human beings no matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities, socio-economic means, or other forms of differentiation that result in marginalization, hatred, and violence. We believe in human dignity as the sacred foundation of our faith.

Please read our statement on Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), located on the Jesuit website.

Board of Trustees Conversation and Discernment

Jesuit's Board of Trustees, in coordination with our Jesuit Leadership Team and our Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, has identified five key DEI strategic initiatives for 2020-21 and beyond. As part of this effort, we are developing a detailed DEI Strategic Plan with specific and measurable actions steps. This document will be published on our website after it is finalized before the end of 2020.

Summary of DEI Strategic Initiatives for 2020-2021 and Beyond

Curriculum

As summarized in our School Improvement Plan (SIP) from our AdvancEd Accreditation Review in the spring of 2019, Jesuit High School is committed to culturally-responsive teaching and learning and strengthening Jesuit's curriculum and programming to promote greater racial literacy in students, faculty and staff.

Culturally-responsive teaching is pedagogy that makes meaningful connections between what students learn in school and their cultures, languages, and life experiences. It recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of teaching.

We are evaluating our instruction and curriculum (texts, lesson plans, course offerings, etc.) to ensure consistent use and promotion of culturally-responsive and differentiated teaching practices to better serve students of diverse cultural, learning, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds.

We will also evaluate and adapt our co-curricular programs and student services to better promote and incorporate culturally-responsive practices in areas such as Campus Ministry, the Arrupe Center for Justice, Clubs, Counseling, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Ignatian Formation, and Athletics as pillars of the work to support our efforts in the grounding of racial literacy and Ignatian philosophy.

Training

We commit to continuing DEI training for our students, faculty and staff, and our Board of Trustees on a regular basis to further establish a more just, equitable and unified community.

This important initiative continued in March, 2020 with implicit bias and anti-racism training for 30 members of our administration, school leadership team, and academic council, including all program directors and academic department chairs.

This training includes segments on implicit bias, conscious bias, and unconscious bias; structural and systemic inequity; recognizing and confronting micro-aggressions; white privilege; methods and solutions for achieving equity and inclusion in Jesuit's classrooms and hallways; and how our students, faculty and staff can more effectively confront issues connected to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Jesuit community in a proactive manner.

Hiring

We commit to significantly accelerating the recruiting, hiring and retention of diverse educators for Jesuit classrooms with the long-term objective that our faculty demographics are more representative of our student body, currently comprised of more than 40% students of color.

While this initiative will take place over a number of years, our goal is to ensure that our students are learning from faculty and staff who represent multiple dimensions of diversity.

As part of our commitment to hire and retain a more diverse faculty capable of teaching in the Ignatian tradition, we will be partnering with an external consultant to advise Jesuit on strategies that will facilitate this initiative.

In order to support all of our students, in the summer of 2020, Jesuit created a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) role for Dr. Claudia Raffaele to serve as Liaison to Latinx families, and will hire our first full-time Associate Director of DEI to partner with our Director of DEI, Ms. Melissa Lowery.

Crusader Name and Mascot

The Crusader name has been in use since Jesuit High School's founding in the fall of 1956 when the student body chose the name by election. Our mascot, Charlie Crusader, was designed in the fall of 1963 by a student to visually represent the name, and the terms "Sadernation" and "Saders" have become popular adaptations to represent our community and embody school spirit.

Over the years, however, and in connection with our efforts to review and improve our school through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion, we have heard concerns about the appropriateness of the Crusader name and its visual representation. We acknowledge our responsibility to examine thoughtfully the sensitivities and implications this name may bear in light of the historical Crusades.

This school year, we will be conducting a comprehensive, multi-month process of soliciting feedback and promoting positive, candid dialogue with the entire Jesuit community about the Crusader name and mascot, allowing our Board of Trustees to determine next steps after receiving, reviewing and discerning community feedback.

In August, the Board of Trustees will appoint a task force comprised of multiple members of our community to begin seeking feedback from all of our various constituencies (e.g., students, alums, faculty and staff, parents, the Jesuits) on the appropriateness of the Crusader name and mascot in light of the mission, values and identity of Jesuit High School. We invite you to join us in this important community conversation.

Jesuit Community Conversations on Racial Justice

This month, the Office of DEI, led by Ms. Melissa Lowery in collaboration with our Jesuit Leadership Team, implemented the Jesuit Community Conversations series designed to foster dialogue and spark awareness about issues that affect our school community, region, and world. These conversation spaces are a welcoming place for parents, students, alumni and faculty/staff to listen, share experiences, ask questions, and grow together in fellowship.

These conversations, the first of which took place on July 16th on "Racial Justice: Processing and Understanding Our Current Climate," will occur via Zoom on a monthly basis at 6:00 pm (this year's dates are August 13, September 9, October 21, November 24, December 15, January 12, February 8, March 18, April 6, and May 18).

Please join us - all members of the Jesuit community are welcome. Email jcc@jesuitportland.org for more information or with questions or proposed topics.

Conclusion

The last several months for us as a leadership team at Jesuit have been a humbling wake-up call. It is heartbreaking to read the words of our students and alums whose experiences at Jesuit have caused suffering and pain.

We are grateful to our students and alumni who are calling us to a higher standard of care.

Jesuit is not perfect by any means, and we have much work to do. But even with all of our brokenness and all the times we have fallen short of our ideals of being committed to doing justice, we believe that we are a community, more often than not, of Unity not Division, of Solidarity not Condemnation, of Forgiveness not Mistrust, of Inclusion not Polarization. We are called by the Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus to be on a mission of Reconciliation and Justice. We cannot have the latter without the former.

We are firmly committed to making tangible progress and taking clear action to combat racism, bigotry and hatred. We also need to continue to listen closely to our students and alums to ensure that our community lives up to our Ignatian principles that ask us to "Journey with Youth" and "Walk with the Excluded." (See Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus.)

We are grateful for your partnership as we continue to learn and grow and live out our mission to develop students with a profound sense of justice founded in love, leaders who are "Women and Men for and with Others."

Thank you for journeying with us to create a more just, welcoming, safe, equitable, inclusive, and hopeful school community, consistent with our sacred mission and human dignity.

Peace. Gratitude. AMDG.