On June 8, 2020, the Rivers School received this letter
and accompanying petition signed by 525 alumni and students asking Rivers to “to align its commitment to social justice with actionable steps
toward fostering an ever-improving culture of anti-racism and awareness.” This letter was addressed to administrators and has been shared with the entire faculty, and all parties were impressed with this respectful, thoughtful, and highly detailed letter. I seek to respond in an equally thoughtful manner.
The actions Rivers will be taking are detailed below. The actions represent a response not only to the requests made in letter but to suggestions that arose during a follow-up discussion between several senior administrators, trustees, and several of the authors of the letter in a Zoom meeting on June 12. During that discussion, we reviewed the curriculum suggestions outlined in the letter, and we also talked about things that Rivers is already doing that are in line with those suggestions.
While it would not be possible to implement all the suggestions contained in the letter by the fall of this year, we do think we could implement most, if not all, by the fall of 2021. Below, in bold type, are the main points laid out in that alumni/student letter, and beneath each bolded item are descriptions of the school’s planned response, including action steps as well as a target date for completion. These responses may be subject to alteration as we move through the work inherent in each item, but we will update the community as to their progress and any changes we see in our initial plans.
In laying out our next steps, please know that we are honoring the call to make the work of fighting racism on our campus and in the larger community an administrative priority. We concur that the actions are consistent with Rivers’s core values.
On behalf of the faculty, administration, and staff here at Rivers, I want to thank the authors of this letter and the alumni and students who signed the petition for encouraging us to expect more from our community. They have called upon us to demonstrate our stated commitment to educating a generation of students who will enter the larger world beyond our walls prepared to build and support equitable approaches to life in a thriving democracy. We know we will need to continue to push hard at our community to bring the ideals we have publicly avowed to life, but we know, too, that this special community has the resolve and the resiliency to take on the work of building a just future for all.
We know, too, that strengthening school culture so that Rivers is a fully comfortable place for all students regardless of their race, ethnicity, or gender identification will require even more work on our part beyond the curricular initiatives laid out here, and we promise to keep working to improve the culture for each of our students in the years ahead.
As we get into the fall, we will continue to update the community as we make progress toward the goals outlined in this letter.
Head of School