In June and September of 2020, the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union administration issued a statement pledging our commitment towards anti-racism work and equity. Today, we would like to issue a similar message.
As a school system, we strongly condemn any hate crime or targeted violence towards any group or demographic. Anti-Asian hate crimes have seen nearly a 150% increase since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, 30% of women have been subject to either physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Following the events that took place in Georgia earlier this month, as well as the hate that many have seen over the course of the pandemic, these facts are as haunting as ever.
The SVSU will not accept the perpetuation of the status quo. We must actively seek to counter these trends. Hostility and aggression towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, women, and other historically marginalized groups erodes our mission to create a diverse and evolving global society.
Statements are never enough. Communication only acts as one part of our path forward to a better world. As such, we highly encourage everyone to seek out the concept of being an “active bystander.” An “active bystander” is someone who witnesses an incident of targeted bullying, harassment, oppression, or violence, and actively chooses to intervene, assisting the targeted person(s). This is just a small step we can all take to hopefully reverse decades of inequity.
We are all human. We all deserve respect. We all deserve to be fearless in our day-to-day lives, especially within the four walls of our school.
We will stand with community action groups working to end discriminatory systems of power, and we promise to continue our personal and community journey towards a more just world, especially when it becomes difficult to do so.
James R. Culkeen
Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union
Superintendent of Schools