Upper School Director Outlines Action Steps to Combat Harassment, Misogyny

Photo+Courtesy+of+Peter+Ryan+%2721

Photo Courtesy of Peter Ryan ’21

In an email sent to students and parents earlier today, Upper School Director Chris Singler announced a number of action steps in response to recent conversations surrounding misogyny and sexism in the Friends Select community.

According to the email, multiple groups of students, including the Upper School Feminism Club, have shared experiences with discrimination, sexual harassment, and general misogyny with Upper School students and faculty. In response to these meetings, the Upper School administration investigated several claims and reaffirmed the school’s intolerance of all harassment.

The school’s student handbook stipulates that “Harassment is broadly defined to include unreasonable conduct or behavior that is personally offensive or threatening, impairs morale, or interferes with the educational environment of students and includes, but is not limited to, slurs, jokes, comments, teasing, and other offensive conduct relating to race, color, age, sex, national origin, handicap or disability. Harassment can take place between individuals of the same gender or different genders. Harassment also includes sexual harassment.”

Chris outlined the school’s three-step review policy for harassment allegations: the school looks into the harassment, determines the appropriate discipline, and communicates with the harrassed community member to ensure no acts of retaliation have occurred. “It was clear in speaking with the feminism club and faculty, that with this last step, we need to be better; we are committed to do so,” wrote Chris.

Actions to address and combat misogyny and unfair gender dynamics in the community include masculinity education for male teachers (and eventually students), an ongoing group of women students and teachers to share stories and offer support, continued support for the Upper School feminism club, and the formation of a steering committee for sexism and misogyny.

Students are encouraged to disclose any important information concerning harassment: “if anyone reading this letter is aware of any specific incidents of harassment, please come forward and speak with us so that we can investigate these incidents and act accordingly,” wrote Chris. 

Chris concluded by inviting students to share their ideas and resources with him as the Upper School continues to address systemic issues. “I am very proud of our students who have had the courage, bravery, and care to come forward with these concerns; idealistically, I wish they never needed to. But we are all works in progress and need each other to be our best selves,” he said.