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A Heart-felt Plea for True Diversity

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I’ve known ____, who wishes to remain anonymous, since she was in kindergarten. She was a few years behind my son, Thomas, in elementary school. She is now a remarkable rising college junior, destined to do great things.

In 2018, ___ graduated from The Madeira School in northern Virginia. Being a recent graduate, she keeps up with the goings-on at her alma mater. But she is rightly unhappy with some of those goings-on. As such, she just sent this letter to Gretchen Warner, Madeira’s Head of School. Whether or not you agree with ___’s politics or ideology, hers is a fine, timely letter. I hope that Madeira’s administration takes it seriously.

I share ___’s letter here, in full, with her kind permission:

Dear Ms. Warner,

I graduated Madeira as a proud member of the Class of 2018. We were a bold class, full of ideas, aspirations, and hope for the future. We had excellent student leaders in our Head of School positions. We went far and wide not only on Capitol Hill, but also in our senior co-curriculums. I will be forever grateful to Madeira for providing me with a place to discover what I am passionate about and giving me the opportunity to experience work environments at such a young age.

However, as an avid participant in politics and a four-year Young Republicans Club (YRC) member, I was repeatedly harassed by students for my views. Young Democrat Club members would sit in on YRC meetings to purposefully interrupt and cause chaos. After President Trump was elected, things quickly deteriorated. Members of the Young Republicans Club received death wishes from left wing students. A teacher, whom I absolutely adored, said in class that no one who supported our new President could be a good person and proceeded to walk out in tears instead of teaching. That crushed me because a teacher I respected and admired indirectly claimed I was a bad person due to my fundamental values. I addressed these issues in a meeting with Mr. Withers and my mother, in which Mr. Withers expressed utter disbelief that these events could occur on campus. My mother emphasized that if Madeira truly valued diversity, then diversity of thought should be included and protected.

To be a Republican, or worse a conservative, at Madeira is to be in a hostile environment. Your recent actions have alienated every alum, parent, student, and future student that does not agree with a left leaning narrative. There is a place for politics at Madeira and that is on Capitol Hill and in YRC and YDC meetings. I firmly believe that faculty and staff should never express personal political beliefs to students because it makes the students and families feel as if their core values are unacceptable at Madeira. Your pledge to take a class for “liberal” teachers sends a message from the top down that anything other than liberal ideas are not to be had. How do you expect all students to feel comfortable and safe on campus if you have made a blanket statement strongly suggesting that Republican ideals are not to be tolerated?

I am deeply disappointed in your response to the BlackatMadeira Instagram page. As someone who sat through countless diversity conversations, ASMs in which public displays of allyship were requested, and constant microaggression meetings, I can affirm that Madeira was making race such a large topic of conversation that no one on campus was comfortable. The message was that everyone should be seen and treated differently because of their race, rather than emphasizing that we were all Madeira students who should be treated accordingly based on the content of our character and actions.

Additionally, the BlackatMadeira account is doing more than “exposing truths.” It uses names, calls people names, and does not speak whole truths. While I understand that Madeira is not directly affiliated with this account, you have shown your support. This sets a dangerous precedent for unhappy students to take to social media and destroy Madeira’s and fellow students’ reputations with no fear of consequence. I would think that if an incoming BIPOC student were to see this account, they would never attend Madeira out of an unfounded fear of discrimination. There is a strong possibility that this account could destroy efforts of increased diversity.

Madeira is no longer creating women who will change the world. Instead, it has become a place of education that is intolerant to differing ideas and genuine conversation. It deeply saddens me to see Madeira go in this direction because, though it was flawed, I treasured my time there.

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