Since the 2018-2019 school year, an important piece of the Holy Cross antiracism and social justice advocacy efforts has been our participation in the Anti Defamation League (ADL) No Place for Hate initiative. This year, Holy Cross renewed its commitment as a No Place for Hate school. The designation requires several action steps to be taken to help the school continue to build a community where all students can thrive, feel safe and know they belong.
This year, the students and faculty/staff members of the Antiracism and Social Justice Advocacy team coordinated the program for the school community. All students started the process by signing a “No Place for Hate Pledge” committing to form a community of respect. Then, during two advisory periods, students explored the theme “Bias in our Everyday Lives.” The objectives of the activities included reflecting on everyday biases and the impact it has on individuals in targeted groups and exploring what actions can be taken to make Holy Cross and the larger community more welcoming and inclusive for everyone.
In the first advisory activity, the students watched a video that Starbucks showed to their employees in the wake of the April 2018 Starbucks incident in which a white employee called the police about two African-American men who were waiting for a colleague and had asked to use the bathroom without making a purchase. They then broke down words like “bias,” “discrimination” and “implicit bias” and considered words and phrases that were meaningful from the video, the historical connections to the civil rights movement, and grappled with the statement: "being allowed in doesn't always mean being welcomed?"
During the second advisory activity, groups shared thoughts and ideas related to the topic and considered impacts on the Holy Cross community. They then completed a survey which provided feedback about experiences which helped answer the question: "What can you do to make our school more welcoming" and discussed ways in which they can also stand up for others and increase understanding and empathy. Students also offered words and phrases that helped create poems that were read during an all-school assembly.
As an additional component to the student portion, Holy Cross faculty and staff participated in a professional day in March led by two ADL specialists. The program called “A World of Difference Institute,” helps participants recognize that “attitudes and beliefs affect actions, and that each of us can have an impact on others, and ultimately, on the world in which we live.” The ADL team completed a needs assessment to determine priorities for Holy Cross. From this, three area of focus were determined: to provide students with the tools to build knowledge and skills to successfully live and work in a diverse global community; to understand and work cooperatively with students, staff, or families who have different languages and cultures; and to create an educational environment where students, staff and families of different backgrounds can work together successfully. The professional day included examining personal identity “icebergs” and developing an understanding of colleagues; learning more about implicit bias and engaging in a gallery walk activity to discuss and learn from colleagues about ways in which to approach conversations with students and faculty/staff on difficult topics.
In March, No Place for Hate coordinator Lindsey Tonks received word that Holy Cross had fulfilled the requirements to be a 2021-2022 No Place for Hate School. The school received official designation in June during a special ceremony that took place virtually.