Dr. Ehrmantraut's Statement Regarding City Pages Article
The stories from Benilde-St. Margaret’s alumni that appeared in a recent City Pages article and on Instagram are evidence of the essential work Benilde St. Margaret’s needs to do related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I want to apologize to every student and alum who we let down. We are taking the feedback seriously and acting on it. We pledge to do better and we will. Below is a statement I provided to City Pages on August 7 in response to their initial inquiry on this issue. The stories that our alumni have shared need to be a catalyst for change and we are committed to that work going forward.
You asked if I am aware of the BlackatBenilde Instagram account. I am. The poignant stories shared by BSM students and alumni go to my very soul. Their voices and lived experiences need to be a catalyst for change. As I shared in my letter to our community in early June, the events of the last few months have made us all more aware of systemic racism that must be addressed. Our diversity, equity and inclusion work, though well-intended, has been inadequate to date. We must do better for our students and our society – and we will. We are not currently living up to our stated values of being a welcoming and inclusive community.
We are taking the feedback we have received seriously and are acting on it. The Instagram posts have been shared with our entire staff and faculty, urging us all to reflect on our values and actions; we are committed to listening, learning, reflecting and growing in our cultural competency. In the last two months, our Board has committed to taking a leadership position in changing a culture that may leave students feeling excluded or marginalized. The Board has created a subcommittee focused on developing a more meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion plan. We have contracted with a leading expert to facilitate listening sessions and engaging with students, families, faculty, staff, alumni and our greater community; that work will take place in late August through October. Following the assessment, we will then design a comprehensive plan that addresses employee recruitment and retention, school inclusion strategies, curriculum change and offerings for students, parents, faculty and staff, with a formal measurement and metric plan. Implementation of the plan will impact our employees, students, parents, school leadership and our board.
You asked what responsibility schools have for teaching about diversity. I believe we have a critical responsibility — to students, families and society — to develop the whole student, including spiritual and intellectual experiences, and in the way we treat each other and work to advance a more just society. We must elevate student voices in the process. In the history of our country, real change has often been driven by youth.
I am committed to a time in the future when our students of color no longer feel tokenized or marginalized. I am committed to leading real change in our school and our community; working to dismantle racism and oppression, so each student is valued and appreciated as a child of God, inspired and supported to achieve their potential.
Our goal as a school is to teach students about social justice and to listen with the ear of their hearts. Those are more than words, they require action. As a community we strive to elevate student voices and offer an abundance of support and grace. At BSM, we espouse to welcome everyone as if they were Christ; our thoughts and actions must live up to those words. Our students are to always move toward God and neighbors without prejudice. Benilde-St. Margaret’s has a long history standing for social justice and for equality. We are on a journey to dismantle racism and bring about a better society for all.
Thank you for reaching out to us.