Letter to the Student Body from Student Government

Upper School Student Government

This letter was sent to the Upper School student body on Thursday, January 17. It has been reprinted below with the permission of Student Government.

Student Government’s primary goal as an organization is to represent the interests, feelings, and opinions of the student body by acting as their voice. In this message, we hope to respond to the blackface video which surfaced last week, clarify our stance on it, as well as detail our suggestions for addressing it. We decided to wait a few days in order to listen to all members of our community before issuing a statement that we think and hope best represents our student body.

We condemn the racism in the video. Its message was deeply offensive, dehumanizing, and alienating. It targeted people of color and made many feel unsafe. The excuse or reasoning that the video represented only ignorance is not enough, as it ultimately harmed our students. Whether or not it was malicious, the video, and actions like it, must be met by a proper response. In this specific incident, the problem was not that this video was shared and spread. Rather, the larger issue was the racist actions within it. Forget about it tarnishing the reputation of our institution’s image; more importantly, it damaged the connections and sense of safety that our students have with each other. We have seen similar events occur over the past few years which make us ask: what can Poly do about its race relations problem?

We support our students who seek a community in which everyone feels respected and safe. Although we do not have the power to discipline, we hope to work with the administration to revise the current policy concerning hate speech. Punishments for acts of discrimination will be clearly stated. Factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and financial background will not be considered in determining appropriate measures of discipline. In this process, we hope to promote student input in order to make an effective and long-lasting change at our school.

We support you in striving for justice and equality.