June 22, 2020
Dear Members of the Austin Prep Community,
As Chair of the Board of Trustees and Head of Austin Prep, the last two weeks have shown us that we have many committed and caring alumni, who are willing to step up and raise their voices when they see something that concerns them about Austin Prep. Neither of us were immune from personal criticism, but we have tried to depersonalize some of the comments and instead focus on the many important issues that Austin Prep alumni have raised.
Some might have perceived these communications from alumni as being not totally fair or accurate. We instead view these comments of our alumni as examples of their care and concern for not only Austin Prep, but also the need for systemic change in the United States as it pertains to the centuries of racism in our country, the historical and ongoing mistreatment of Black people in our society, and the violence perpetrated against Black people by police officers. Black Lives Matter, and certainly to all of us at Austin Prep.
While our initial communication fell short in many ways, we have used these past two weeks to think about and to listen to the messages of so many Austin Prep alumni. While we continue to make progress, there is certainly more to be done to eradicate racism, bigotry, or intolerance in any form, and to expand diversity at Austin Prep. And Austin Prep is committed to meaningful action on those concerns.
We also hear the voices of the Austin Prep alumni who signed the petition covering a number of substantive concerns. Led by the youngest member of the Austin Prep Board of Trustees, Joey Carregal, Class of 2005, and his fellow 2005 classmates, Samuel Hilario and Ashley (Herendeen) Phillips, they had a ninety-minute conversation recently with some of the supporters of a petition addressed to the leadership of Austin Prep.
It was a substantive conversation and thanks to Joey and his fellow classmates, we now have an important perspective and context on the issues that have been raised by some of our alumni. This meeting was a first step, but an important and necessary step. Joey and his classmates intend to continue facilitating dialogue with alumni and members of the community.
We also recognize, as noted author, James Baldwin, has stated—that “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced," a commitment we make on behalf of Austin Prep.
And on Baldwin’s view on education, which applies to not only Austin Prep, but every school and college in America, he stated “the paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which one is being educated.”
Based on what we have heard from our alumni in the last two weeks, we view that, too, as a good thing.