My words of reflection on commencement in yesterday’s eNews did not mention the frustrations and anger we are all feeling regarding the George Floyd murder, and the systemic racism that persists in our culture and everyday lives. This was a naïve misstep. I sincerely and profusely apologize for it.
I hear you and feel your anger and frustration. Please know that I join with you and our entire community to grieve over the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Sadly these deaths are just the latest reminders that inequality, police brutality and social injustice are still pervasive. Black lives matter. As an educational institution, we have an incredible opportunity to confront these biases and grow together. Staff, addressing concerns about the coronavirus, have been focused on preparing for students to return safely this fall. But ensuring not just equality, but also the enhanced inclusion of our students who are black is a responsibility that we cannot ignore.
To all of the African American students and their families in our community, please know that I and all of Lausanne stand with you in solidarity.
The protests across the country vocalizing the injustice directed at black men and women reinforce and galvanize our commitment to building connections and understanding across racial and socioeconomic differences. We must also ensure that all our students understand their privilege and their responsibility to leverage it to create a more just world. The response to my misplaced statement yesterday shows that we need to do more.
But we're also always striving to be better tomorrow than we are today, and that includes confronting our "blind spots" around difficult issues. To ensure our progress, this work must happen on many levels.
One of the most striking blind spots I've been made aware of is our black students' experience on campus. The experience they shared recently about their time on campus was strikingly different from what I had perceived. We are committed to creating safe spaces to have these deeper conversations.
Student and alumni groups are already forming, discussing and sharing their ideas, thoughts and feelings about their experiences at Lausanne. To ensure that this process continues and that we can continue to receive feedback, we're forming a task force of students, alumni, faculty and other community members to help facilitate these conversations. Dr. Noma Anderson, a Lausanne grandparent and former board chair, has agreed to lead this task force. As the former Special Advisor to the President on Equity and Diversity at the University of Tennessee system of schools, she brings a wealth of expertise to the subject. This group will also look for opportunities to increase inclusiveness for all of our students.
Our school will conduct an in-depth analysis of all policies, and continue to work creatively to grow the number of African American teachers and administrators at the school. We'll also review our disciplinary processes, especially those involving discrimination.
Our faculty will also include more black perspectives in their class curriculums. We also further our commitment to bringing more African American speakers to Lausanne to share their ideas.
This August, workshops that explore root causes for systemic issues affecting our community, like racism and socioeconomic inequality, will begin for Middle and Upper School students, but also for staff and administrators.
But most importantly, we will continue to listen. The last 24 hours have been eye-opening, and while it has been painful for our community, it has given us an opportunity to improve Lausanne for all students and alumni.
Let me say again: black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with our students, faculty, alumni and community members of color. An injustice against any one of us is an injustice against all. The systemic racism that persists in our nation's culture must be changed. This positional statement is a call to action for our beloved school and for us collectively and individually to be that change.
Difficult conversations have begun and will continue. We thank you again for your feedback, and we ask for your continued help and support as we move together as a community.
- Stuart McCathie