Dear Madeira Parents,
As I mentioned in my note earlier this week, the Madeira community has strived to be a model for civil and productive political discourse. With today’s election results, our community has experienced strong reactions on both sides of the political spectrum, and emotions are understandably high.
I gathered our entire community today for a special post-election Community Meeting Time to remind everyone of our cherished community values.
With heartfelt sincerity, I want Madeira to be a place where all students feel safe to explore and express their views, and where diverse viewpoints enrich our community. We had a few encounters that veered from our community values of respect and compassion, so I have asked all students to observe a three- day moratorium on social media to allow some time for reflection and processing.
As you discuss the election with your daughters, I appeal to you to help reinforce the message that our community is bigger than national politics, and has always transcended our differences. Regardless of where any individuals stand on the outcome, Madeira’s community adults stand committed to civil discourse and mutual respect, always placing our community values above everything else.
Here is the message I shared with the community today, and I share it with you as we work in partnership to keep our girls safe as they grow:
"Madeira has always prided itself on providing a sisterhood that builds relationships that transcend our differences. Today, understandably, post-election emotions are high. Some are celebrating, some are in a somber mood, others are in pain or even anxious about what the future holds. Regardless of which candidate we or our families supported, we want everyone in our community to feel safe. We will accept nothing less.
We must adhere to our community values. Even when our country cannot always model appropriate discourse, we at Madeira can. It starts here. At Madeira, we support each other, and each of us is about so much more than our politics. So, how are we to respond when we are part of a small community that embraces all, regardless of color, ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender and sexual identity, and above all, at this juncture, of political beliefs? How can we maintain and strengthen the bonds that tie us together? How do we express agreement and disagreement and, yes, some apprehension about the future with respect, empathy and compassion?
Our community is, and has to be, bigger than national politics. So how can we do that? You can express differences of opinion in a respectful manner. It is okay to be sad, angry and afraid, as well as to be happy and elated.
You should not hesitate to seek support from a friend, family member, or trusted adult.
You may not disrespect or verbally attack – either in the real world or in the virtual one - a person whose beliefs are different from your own opinions, or who supported the candidate you opposed.
This is what we WILL do: for the next three days, I am asking all of you for a total social media moratorium. If you send messages that are coming from a place of hurt and emotion right now, you will surely provoke more hurt and emotion, and you may not be able to undo the harm. I am hopeful that after some time, we can start having less heated discussions, open our minds to the future, and move forward. During this time, please think about how you would like to approach those conversations. You may even want to practice what you want to say. Use the adults in your lives as resources and as sounding boards.
This is what I beseech you to do: Be part of changing society and actively supporting democracy. Don’t jeopardize our sense of community over an election that you did not control. Stick to our school values and let friendship, rather than animosity, lead you. Political elections will come and go, but our community values and spirit are timeless. Remember, together you are women who will change the world."
Pilar Cabeza de Vaca
Head of School