As the school year comes to an end during this time of great turmoil for our nation, we are grieving for the families of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Steven Taylor, and countless others who have been victimized by deliberate acts of discrimination, oppression and bigotry. Our continued prayers are with them for justice and peace.
We unconditionally, unequivocally, and proudly state that BLACK LIVES MATTER. Period. We acknowledge that we have caused trauma and have been complicit in systemic racism. We understand that we have much more work to do.
Our immediate community has also been suffering. Over these last several weeks, we have heard from our seniors about their experiences as students of color. Their stories are hard to hear, but we must listen to understand and take action.
We are grateful to our students and alumni who have been challenging us to do better, be better. Now, more than ever, we are committed to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable school community. We must lean into difficult conversations to live out our Jesuit mission of being women and men for others.
"As a Catholic and Jesuit community, we believe that all of humanity is made in God's image," states President Tom Arndorfer. "We unequivocally condemn all forms of prejudice, racism, and injustice towards all human beings no matter what 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 will answer Jesus' call to action to stand side-by-side with the marginalized and the oppressed. Our hearts must widen, and we will continue to fight for justice with a renewed sense of urgency.
Earlier this week, Jesuit families and alumni received statements of healing and reconciliation. Follow the links below to read on:
- President Arndorfer's prayer at Friday Mass, 5/29/20
- Letter to current Jesuit families, 6/1/20
- Letter to alumni, 6/3/20
- President Arndorfer's closing remarks at Baccalaureate Mass, 6/5/20
Jesuit is committed to long-term support of our BIPOC students and alumni and real, lasting structural change. So what is Jesuit doing to dismantle systemic racism? We teach our students to identify structural inequalities and to actively seek to change unjust social structures. We also teach that when we do not do so actively, we participate in and help perpetuate those unjust structures.
We know that we must do more to develop our programming and to improve our curricula's grounding in racial literacy. Our School Improvement Plan for the next five years focuses on culturally relevant and aware teaching and learning. Over the past year, we have sought out external resources for 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 summer and going forward, we will host more training for our faculty, staff, and administration. We are also working with an external consultant to advise Jesuit on strategies for hiring and retaining a more diverse faculty.
In our curricula and programming, we must also do more. In addition to existing affinity groups and DEI clubs for students and parents, conferences, summits, assemblies and brown bag lunches, we are evaluating our curricular content and pedagogical strategies so all of our students may learn from a multicultural perspective, with the guidance of our Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
In the words of our Provincial, Fr. Scott Santarosa, S.J., "I hope that we might double down on our commitment to the Universal Apostolic Preferences, to 'walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.'
We welcome you to partner with us as we continue to learn and grow and live out our mission, which states, "Our hope is that our students develop a profound sense of justice founded in love, i.e., leaders who are 'men and women for and with others.'" In the spirit of Jesus Christ, Jesuit High School stands in solidarity with those whom the dominant culture has oppressed.