Every year there are incidents at school where someone does or says something hurtful, even oppressive, to another person. Words are powerful. They have a deep impact. They can be violent, even if that was not the clear intention of the person saying them. These kinds of mistakes can be very painful -- certainly for the person receiving them, but for the larger community and even for the person who said them.
While hurtful language does impact all of us, there are certain groups of people that are more immediately - or more frequently - targeted and impacted. These groups have had to endure many incidents of hostility. In our society right now, there are many examples of oppressive, violent and hurtful things going on. It seems that recently more people feel emboldened to say and do things that are destructive. Even if they are said in jest, they are still powerful and destructive. We want our community to be a place where such behavior is not accepted. We are a community that unquestionably takes a stand against racism, sexism, homophobia, and all oppression. We work to hold people accountable.
That said, there is more that goes into building and maintaining a healthy community than just punishing someone who has done something wrong. Often, in the larger culture, we “throw away” people who have done bad things, or who have made bad mistakes. At Crefeld, we are striving to create a culture where people can recover from making mistakes, where they can learn and be allowed to grow and change, within our community.
I want to assure you that we hold people accountable to their actions, and I am also asking you to follow our lead while we help people learn from their mistakes and return to being upstanding members of our community. These challenging issues will be part of some ongoing conversations in advisories and our larger community.