Confronting Racism

Over the last month, Chicago and our nation have seen that which we have always known in our heart: Racism is a sin that runs deep and wide in our society. It is antithetical to the teachings of Christ and no individual or institution should ever think it is impervious to its evil clutches.
 
The Saint Ignatius community is heartbroken to hear of the experiences of intolerance endured by some current and former students. These reflections of racist behavior devastate us and compel us to redouble our efforts to do better. 

We are a diverse community, grounded in our Jesuit and Catholic values, dedicated to educating young people for lives of faith. To reflect the values of Jesus, we must lead with words and actions in the fight to be a welcoming and respectful community.
 
Saint Ignatius has much to be proud of in this fight. We should neither be afraid to recognize this nor allow it to make us complacent. In the 1940’s, Saint Ignatius led the charge to reverse the inexcusable practice by Chicago private schools of excluding African Americans. Today, nearly a third of our student body are young people of color. We continue to strive for a community that reflects the Chicago area and Archdiocese. Each year, Saint Ignatius provides more financial aid to economically disadvantaged families than any other private school in the Chicago metro area. These positive attributes of our past and present should inspire us to keep moving forward.
 
It begins with listening and dialogue. It follows with action. Conversation and understanding are critically important but cannot, alone, create the change we all seek.
 
To this end, Saint Ignatius is developing an Initiative that will take a 360 degree view of our entire institution. This Initiative will examine what we are currently doing and what we need to do in the future to address these issues. This will not be a top-down initiative. We will seek to involve the community in the examination, planning and implementation of our work. It will be organized into five key areas.
 
We hope the entire Saint Ignatius community will support this work and lend your voices, experiences and opinions to the progress we all seek.
 
We all love Saint Ignatius. We all want the future of this special place to be an even more powerful force for good. Let us go forward with trust in God, guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ and inspired by our Jesuit heritage for social justice.
 
John J. Chandler                                   Brianna Latko 
 
Overview of the Five Point Plan:

List of 5 items.

  • 1. Increase campus opportunities for dialogue and understanding.

    Social change begins with voices expressed in an atmosphere of openness and trust. We must build on programs like Diversity Dialogues, lecture series, and the IVD initiatives to create more opportunities for the Saint Ignatius community to engage each other on the critical issue of race. We believe it’s also appropriate to help our community become more effective communicators with each other.
     
  • 2. Re-examine our incident reporting protocols.

    The recent heartbreaking testimonials from some current and former students of racist encounters while at Saint Ignatius demonstrate that we need to do a better job of encouraging students to engage with the school when they see, hear or experience racist behavior or intolerance. The task force will examine ways we can a) assure the victim that they can safely notify us; and b) ensure that the process to investigate reports works as it should. This will take trust and courage on behalf of everyone, but especially those who have experienced something that is offensive and undermines the person’s dignity and our mission.
     
  • 3. Continue to focus our efforts at recruiting diverse faculty and staff.

    Over the past years, Saint Ignatius has taken steps to identify, recruit and hire candidates of color. We have recruited at minority employment fairs, including at Historically Black Colleges and Universities such as Xavier University of Louisiana. We must do better. The Task Force will examine the work we do in this regard and map a plan forward. Perhaps there are some things we do now that are not effective. Perhaps there are other things we don’t do now that we need to do.
     
  • 4. Review of all academic curriculum.

    There is an appropriate reckoning in this country about how well standard academic curriculum teaches our young people about the history of racism and the wholesale disenfranchisement of whole communities from the blessings of our country. Building on the curriculum review we have been engaged in, we will expand this review and develop consensus on what steps need to be taken.  
     
  • 5. Review all current programs and training for opportunities to enhance.

    From freshman orientation to faculty trainings, we have a myriad of programming to address inclusiveness and tolerance. We will conduct an audit of our full suite of programming and find ways to enhance its effectiveness.
     
Phone       312.421.5900
Fax 312.421.7124