Changing the culture of wellness & support for students at Saint Mary's Hall

Changing the culture of wellness & support for students at Saint Mary's Hall

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Kate Ayers started this petition to Saint Mary's Hall

The Instagram accounts @womenatsmh and @blackatsmh have shed light on experiences of sexism, racism, teasing, administration’s blatant disregard for mental health, shaming, and sexual harassment/assault at Saint Mary’s Hall. Every student, parent, graduate, faculty, staff, and administration member from SMH can no longer deny the toxic white masculinity that plagues the school’s hallways. It is clear that the unsafe and harmful environment that has permeated Saint Mary’s Hall should not, and will not, be tolerated any longer. 

The lack of support survivors receive from administration is inexcusable. The lack of accountability abusers face at Saint Mary’s Hall is abhorrent. The Saint Mary’s Hall Honor Code, signed by every student and teacher, “was established to instill trust, honesty, integrity, and respect for oneself and others, and it allows us to maintain an environment of trust based on a balance between responsibility and freedom.” Yet there is a complete lack of trust, honesty, integrity, and respect on campus, and SMH has continuously failed to address and adjust its environment that perpetuates white male supremacy and the degradation of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community.

This petition calls for SMH faculty, administration, and board members to end this distressing pattern of behavior. The SMH community demands change more comprehensive than a wellness assembly, more comprehensive than an email dispatch, and more comprehensive than an advisory activity.

We demand the following from Saint Mary’s Hall:

-A written apology to the Saint Mary’s Hall community that acknowledges mistakes and shortcomings in leadership as well as validating the spectrum of experiences of current and former students. This apology should address the need for a drastic change in culture at SMH.

-Clear efforts towards restructuring the Wellness Program, pledging to prioritize the mental and physical health of students above all else, along with developing a policy that ensures the following: under no circumstances may a student seeking support after sexual harassment/assault be punished for substance use at the time of the assault.

-Remind faculty, administration, and staff of their legal obligation to report ANY suspected harassment to the police or the Department of Family and Protective Services (in compliance with Section 261.101 of the Texas Family Code). Knowingly failing to report is a Class A misdemeanor if the person is required to make a report and knowingly fails to do so. More information can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/MandatoryReportingLaw 

-Hold students who joke about sexual harassment or assault, racism, gender identities, etc. to higher standards.

-Identify or hire a Title IX coordinator.

-Reassure sexual harassment/assault survivors that the school stands with them, alleviating as much fear regarding coming forward for them as possible.

-Make efforts towards eventually hiring a diversity and inclusion officer and/or offer multiple avenues to safely report instances of racial bias, sexual harassment/assault, homophobia, etc. At the very least, establish a procedure for reporting these biases or any form of harassment that the Wellness Department will follow to ensure justice is served and change is made.

-Educate students about eating disorders and healthy body images.

-Plans to expand the sex education program (and include LGBTQ+ sex ed) and pledge to teach about healthy relationships and consent at younger ages.

-Implement bias training for all staff, faculty, and administration.

-Expand child protection and conduct training for staff, faculty, and administration, and hold faculty and administration members accountable for misconduct or willful ignorance.

-Create mandatory sexual harassment courses for students and teachers.

-Address mental health as something separate from religion, just like physical health.

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