Message to the Bard Early College Community

Dear Members of the Bard Early College Community,

In the face of brutal and all-too familiar racial violence in America, we are outraged and saddened. As a country, we have failed again to dignify and listen to the voices of people of color and others who are structurally marginalized. As we have seen in clear and harsh light these last two weeks, Black Americans continue to die at the hands of those in power, power ostensibly to protect, a power that did nothing to protect its citizens. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery. They lost their lives, and many live each day with the reality that the same fate can be theirs. 

For the Bard Early College community, from Cleveland to Queens, from Newark to New Orleans, from Hudson to Baltimore, from Manhattan to our nation’s capital of Washington, DC, this is a persistent reality. Please take a moment to read the letter, included below, from Bard College President Leon Botstein, affirming Bard College’s commitment to combating injustice through education.

The experience of violence, of social trauma and injustice, deepens our commitment to our work as students and educators. The Bard classroom embodies the ideal that we are all better for each other’s voices and ideas. An everyday gesture in class discussion – the simple act of turning to your classmate and saying, “I hear you saying,” before a single response – that act of listening and recognition is the seed for a better and more just and more dignified society. We learn together so that we may move the world forward. We must continue on that vital journey, even when the world beyond our walls – and at times within our walls – feels in opposition to the path we must take.

The Bard community includes students in Annandale, students who are incarcerated across New York State, students enrolled in the Bard Microcolleges, students enrolled on the West Bank of Jerusalem and in Bishkek, Berlin, and St. Petersburg. And it proudly includes the Bard Early College student body, 3,000 strong and their families, in seven cities across the U.S.

From every corner of that community, we, the school leaders of the Bard Early College network, hear your grief and fury, and we offer our support – and, if you’d like, a space to talk and someone who will and can listen. The ways in which we express grief, demand justice, and find support in and from each other vary for each of us, and are frustrated by the further stresses, inequitably distributed, of the global pandemic. We aim to provide support, from our campuses and from our larger network, in the ways most needed by those most deeply affected. Information on campus and network spaces will be made available in the coming days.

We hear you. We see you. We respect you. 

And we stand determined to continue our work together toward a more just and equitable society. 

In support,
Vanessa Anderson, Principal, BHSEC – DC
Francesca Gamber, Principal, BHSEC – Baltimore
Michael Lerner, Principal, BHSEC – Manhattan
Ana María Caldwell, Executive Director, Bard Early College New Orleans
Michael Sadowski, Executive Director, Bard Early College – Hudson 
Carla Stephens, Principal, BHSEC – Newark
Valeri Thomson, Principal, BHSEC – Queens
Stephen Tremaine, Vice President for Early Colleges, Bard College
John B. Weinstein, Dean of the Early Colleges, Bard College
Dumaine Williams, Principal, BHSEC – Cleveland; Dean of the Bard Sequence

‘A Message to the College Community from President Botstein’ can be found here.

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