Dear Thacher Community,
Earlier this summer I wrote to express Thacher’s commitment to the work of actively opposing racism and to articulate some of the steps we have already taken in that work and planned to take in the near term. Since then, our community has continued to reckon with the realities of racism at Thacher.
In our recent alum forums and through the alum-created Black, Indigenous, People of Color at Thacher (BIPOC@thacher) Instagram account, I have listened and read as Thacher students and alums of color share their experiences enduring discriminatory and racist acts on our campus perpetrated by adults and fellow students, often tacitly or explicitly condoned by onlookers. I have listened to and read the many ways students of color experience exclusion and isolation in our community, including not seeing themselves and their experiences reflected in our curriculum or in the adults in our community. Throughout, I have heard the rightful hurt and anger of our alums and students of color in the face of Thacher’s failure to meet our sacred obligation to support, to protect, and to nurture the young people who make Thacher their home for high school.
I am deeply sorry for the pain and hurt Thacher has caused in our failure to create the community of respect, trust, equity, and love that our values and mission call on us to manifest.
As Thacher’s leader, I am fully committed to identifying and redesigning the practices and systems within our School that support racism and prevent us from living up to our community ideals.
In alignment with that purpose and the needs of our community, I make the following commitments:
- Implementing anti-racist and anti-bias education and accountability at all levels of the institution
- Hiring additional BIPOC faculty and rejecting the idea that we cannot find candidates of color
- Supporting, sponsoring, and hiring BIPOC candidates for leadership roles at Thacher
- Hiring a therapist of color who specializes in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
- Creating a multicultural resource center on campus
- Engaging an external consultant to provide a DEI audit of our institutional policies and practices, the results of which we will share with the community
- Performing a full DEI inventory of our curriculum with the guidance of external experts to ensure courses and co-curricular programming reflect the diversity of the lived experience of our student body and intentionally and actively oppose racism and other forms of oppression
- Assembling a DEI Task Force that includes representation from all Thacher constituencies to guide our ongoing work and to hold the School accountable to our commitment to racial equity and inclusion
- Never stopping this work
That final commitment is perhaps the most important. This is a long-term endeavor. While there are many steps Thacher is taking immediately to support our communities of color and other marginalized backgrounds, significant institutional change requires sustained, strategic commitment, unwavering support from leadership, broad community participation, and dedicated resources. It must be informed but not limited by the work we have already done, and grounded in qualitative and quantitative data. And it must be iterative, allowing for adaptation as we continue to learn from our progress and from our failures. This will be difficult and often uncomfortable work, and we will continue to do it because it is not only necessary but right.
You can expect to hear from me again in September about our progress and the work we have undertaken this summer. In the meantime, I welcome the opportunity to hear from you directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). A significant element of my work in my first two years as head of school has been focused on listening in order to gain a better understanding of how Thacher is experienced by all of its community members. Our alum forums, BIPOC@thacher, and more recently, queer@thacher make clear there is much that hasn’t been heard. As we move forward, we will continue to create space for listening, restoration, and collaboration between and amongst all of us who have made Thacher a part of our lives.
I am grateful for the honesty so many have shared in this painful and profound moment for the nation and our School. You are my greatest motivation to be bold in creating the best version of Thacher, together.