[Bkn-school-of-education-csp-mhc] Letter to Students

Shinelle Romeo-Walcott Shinelle.Romeo at liu.edu
Tue Dec 13 16:44:13 EST 2016

December 2016

To our students,

We, the undersigned faculty and staff in the LIU School of Education, write to you to express our concern for the well being of all of our students and their families.  Many of us have been affected by the social climate and hateful public discourses of this campaign and election season, and have justified concerns about the micro-aggressive assaults and insults towards groups of people that were and continue to be targets of prejudice, bias, and violence.

The School of Education at LIU-Brooklyn has served a unique role in the institution’s historic mission to welcome all students through its doors, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, countries of origin, culture, language, or ability.  We are dedicated to the empowerment of men and women from all walks of life, and to fostering their intellectual development, ethical grounding, and socially conscious action in the world. We prepare teachers, counselors, and school psychologists to work in some of the most diverse schools and communities in the world.  To that end, our KEEPS mission, which embodies our values and beliefs, guides us.  At this time of tension and uncertainty, amid overt and implied threats to the safety of members of our community, it is worth recalling these values, as we all determine how to best meet the challenges ahead.

Knowledge is the core of education.  In the emerging era of fake news, propaganda, social media, anti-science, mass advertising, and blatant lies, all of which loomed large in the election season, we must recommit ourselves to teaching students how to analyze information critically, how to seek out the sources of information, and to understand the powerful forces dedicated to the manipulation of our thoughts and emotions.

In order to engage critically with the vast amounts of information presented to us we must engage in our own self-directed enquiry. We must not hesitate to ask the hard and critical questions, and to challenge the status quo when our students and our clients are harmed.

As various groups of people are being disenfranchised and marginalized, we must intensify our empathetic caring for everyone, and be vigilant allies when any person or group is under threat. We will not tolerate any forms of prejudice or bullying in our SOE classrooms, and feel a moral responsibility to stand with you and others if there is racism, linguicism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, ableism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any other form of religious intolerance exhibited. We strive to make our classrooms at LIU spaces in which all voices can be heard and democratic discourse prevails.

Currently there are claims that multiculturalism is a failed project and that we need to return to an era of American “greatness” (i.e. white supremacy).  We hold the values of pluralism dear – the idea that we not only tolerate, but celebrate the wonderful diversity of language, culture, race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation that constitutes the student bodies we all work with on a daily basis.

To these ends, we must renew our social commitments.  We must follow in the footsteps of the anti-fascists of the 40s, the civil rights activists of the 50’s & 60s, the ACT UP activists of the 80s, the Water Protectors of Standing Rock, and all of those near and dear to us who have daily fought against oppression.  This means having courage, resilience, taking action, practicing love, speaking truth to power, organizing, maintaining strength, offering forgiveness, demonstrating compassion, and so much more.

December is a season for cultural traditions, rituals, and holidays. It is also the Universal Month for Human Rights. The December 10th celebration marks the day in 1948 when, following a bitter world war that witnessed unthinkable atrocities on an unimaginable scale, the United Nations General Assembly codified the basic human rights of every individual on the planet.  We must not turn the clock back.  If ever we feel frightened, disheartened, discouraged, or just plain tired, we should recall the words of Martin Luther King, who reminds us that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

We wish you all a reflective, healing, joyful holiday, a time to renew and replenish yourselves.  For those of you who are graduating, we wish you all the best as you go forth and bring the KEEPS mission into the world.  For those of you returning for classes in the spring, we look forward to reconnecting with renewed energy and commitment for the hard but necessary work ahead.

In solidarity,

Laura Alcazar
Juan Eric Arévalo
Kiran Arora
Louise Bauso
Mikela Bjork
Felicia Black
Clyde Cole
Megan Cripps
Rebecca Curinga
Kim Decatrel
Anthony DeFazio
Amy DeFelice
Rebecca Dyasi
Guin Ellsworth
Alexander Fertig
Cecelia Goodman
ShawnTina Harrod
Lynn Hassan
Linda Jacobs
Kathleen Kesson
Valerie Lava
Laurie Lehman
Nancy Lemberger
Andrew Livanis
Charlotte Marchant
Kate McLaughlin
Kelly Morales
Christy Mulligan
Barry Oreck
Michael Pregot
Irene Rivera
Klaudia Rivera
Martha Rosas
Christina Scheinberg
Sarah Schlessinger
Ellen Short
Jay Shuttleworth
Candy Systra

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