Words are not enough
Jennifer Ciccarelli

Words are not enough, but in case you did not receive our emailed response to the Dear CSG Instagram page, we are resharing here. Please know, we have read each and every individual post. Please read the letter sent to our community on July 1 below.

 

Dear CSG Community, 


I write to you in response to the 'Dear CSG' Instagram page (@shewillknowherpower), which was recently created by a CSG community member. The page provides an outlet for students and alumnae to share their stories of racist treatment and other experiences of discrimination at CSG. To the brave students and alumnae who have posted on this page, on behalf of CSG's Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, and staff, I am deeply sorry for the discriminatory treatment you have received at CSG.

Before saying anything else, I want to say thank you. Thank you to those of you who have posted and shared your stories and concerns. Thank you to the administrator of the page for creating a space where members of the CSG community could put a powerful voice to their lived experiences, and thank you for the call to action and for holding us accountable. I hear you, I care for you, and my heart and ears are open. Your stories are evidence that CSG has fallen short of meeting its mission and living up to its promise. 

The words on the page--the specific, detailed examples of mistreatment--are difficult to read. It is clear that living these experiences was far more difficult than reading about them. The pain these members of our community have carried with them, sometimes for many years, is palpable in their expression of it. No one wants to think that the school we all love could allow such treatment of a community member. While difficult to read, it is important that we all read it, digest it, and commit to taking responsibility for interrupting racism and discrimination now and into the future. 

When I came to CSG six years ago, one of the charges set before me was to develop and implement a formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion framework and program. Since then, we have made the pursuit of a truly inclusive community a philosophical, financial, and strategic priority. We have worked to identify and question our own biases, and we have intentionally created space for students to do the same. But, as evidenced by the pain and frustration on the Instagram page, what we have done is not enough. Clearly, we must do more. 

Over the past three weeks, I have received emails from, and met one-on-one with, alumnae about their concerns and the changes they would like to see. I have met with our faculty and staff of color, and faculty have gathered with students to provide support and to collect feedback. They have shared their stories and proposed action steps we should take. We are grateful for their input, partnership, and engagement as we move forward.

The administrative team has been working on an updated strategic plan for diversity and inclusion, which includes a comprehensive review of our work to date, the systematic seeking of feedback from alumnae and current students of color, and the creation of a strategic work plan to be implemented going forward. We will roll that process out in August. It will include the following actions:

  1. Working with a Columbus-based community engagement firm, RAMA, to help us to create a community-informed diversity and inclusion action plan.
     
  2. Hosting a community summit on July 29 during which we will identify concrete areas for improvement and offer our community specific opportunities to partner with CSG in this work.
     
  3. Evaluating the current structures and processes that guide our institution to root out racism and discrimination. These efforts will include a thorough review of administrative and educational processes and policies, including the creation of a formal process to report and address discrimination; and a reworking of our curriculum to ensure that it is culturally responsive.

We cannot do this work alone. At the community event on July 29, I will share specific ways that you can support this critical work, and I hope that you will join us.

I am incredibly proud of our students and alumnae who have spoken up to share their stories and their pain. Together, we can stand up and create the real, systematic change that is needed so that future generations of CSG girls have the safe space they need to thrive. The struggle for social justice cannot be a fad. This work will never be done: it must be consistent, intentional, and ongoing. I look forward to working with you to ensure that all of our students feel safe and supported.


Sincerely,

Alternate text

Jennifer Ciccarelli