Dear Members of the Magnificat Community and Others Concerned about the Recent Social Media Posting,
I am writing to let you know that I am aware of the highly inappropriate and offensive social media post involving a few of our students, which has recently gotten wider attention. As some of you may already know, a small group of our students engaged in a verbal exchange at a social gathering that was videotaped. The video is offensive and hurtful because of the explicitly racist nature of the language used and the way it was delivered. The post has been shared on social media, and individuals and communities from all corners have expressed appropriate condemnation.
This first came to my attention in January. At that time, the incident was immediately and fully investigated and disciplinary proceedings followed. Although we cannot disclose the outcomes of the proceedings due to privacy concerns, what I can tell you is we do not condone or tolerate racial slurs or hate speech. Such acts and words have no place in our school community. The inflammatory post is clearly inconsistent with the Magnificat mission and our community’s values, and student leadership has expressed their own condemnation of the attitudes expressed in these postings.
Our Mission to “educate young women holistically to learn, lead, and serve in the spirit of Mary's Magnificat” calls on each of us to foster an inclusive community. Compassion and respect are two of our core values and we explicitly strive to teach our students to “identify with others, to stand in their shoes” and to “avoid prejudices and pre-judgments.” We work hard to ensure that each of our young women has the skills and desire to work effectively with others whose viewpoints and experiences are different from their own. And although part of what we teach in our curriculum is that racism remains one of the major injustices of our time, this recent incident reminds us that we have much important work to do on this front, including within our own community.
We encourage all parents to talk with their children about their use of social media. As we have repeatedly done during school, counseling classes, and in special events that included guest speakers, we ask that you join us in reminding our students to be their best selves at all times, whether on social media or otherwise. Remind them that digital media is public and permanent. And encourage your children to serve as upstanders not bystanders when they are faced with a tough decision on whether or not to stand up for others.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the extreme backlash that has exploded on social media. Some individuals have gone too far and have made threats against our students. Those threats have been reported to the police. I want to remind our school community that we will not tolerate any sort of retaliation. We will always enforce disciplinary action as appropriate to ensure a safe and respectful learning environment for all.
For many years, our school has been working to become an increasingly diverse community, one committed to racial justice, equity, and inclusion. We have come a long way in many respects, and I am grateful for the work we are doing to make Magnificat a place where all students feel safe, respected, and affirmed in their diverse identities. I am extremely saddened for our community during this time, and I assure you that Magnificat remains committed to this important work. I pray that our conversations and reflections in light of this incident will only serve to bolster our unwavering dedication to equity and inclusion, specifically racial justice.
I truly believe that this will be a learning experience for us and that we will be a stronger, more respectful and compassionate community when we return to class in the fall.
In the Spirit of Mary’s Magnificat,
Moira Clark ’77