A Call for the Diversification of St. Michael's College School Staff (Toronto)

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**PLEASE NOTE: The petition description has been updated to reflect comments and opinions of people of minority and majority both outside and within the St. Michael's community; namely that we have now outlined more concrete, formal steps to hold the school accountable and to be able to quantify actual change in regards to the prevalence of white culture and the lack of diversity among its staff.**

SMCS should be a place of inclusion, equal opportunity and mutual respect. Working towards equal representation in its staff is a place to begin.

St. Michael’s College School has the ability, and undoubtedly the responsibility, to be a pillar of improvement when it comes to social change. A large part of the reason for its high standards is a result of the school’s understanding that it is always best to be looking forward and setting examples for other schools, just as they strive to set examples for their own students. Education is the salvation of a generation. What the older generations fail to recognize until it is too late, can still be taught to the younger years. Education is a chance at redemption of the present for a better future.

The time for change is now. We are demanding that St. Michael’s College School sets the bar high and hopeful for the changes in racial education and discrimination. The issues with racism in Canada cannot be blamed on a single person, a single school, or a single policy. It is embedded in the society that we live in, compounded over the years from prior extreme surface racism, which seeped through the cracks of institution and time, to set a foundation of discrimination. St. Michael’s alone is not to blame for racism. But is that reason enough to ignore it? If there is one thing that I learned at St. Michael’s, it’s that you should know what is right, and do what is right no matter how many people stand beside (or opposite to) you.

There are 128 constituents as listed on the school’s directory online. 111 of the staff members are visibly white, 6 are black, 6 are Latino, 4 are Asian, 1 is Oceanic and 0 are native American. That means that approximately 87% of the overall staff are visibly white, only 4% are black, 4% are Latino, 3% are Asian, 0.8% Oceanic and 0% Indigenous.

If you narrow down from overall staff to teaching staff there are a total of 67 constituents. 61 of the teachers are visibly white, 2 are black, 2 are Asian, 2 are Latino, 0 are Oceanic and 0 are Indigenous. Therefore, 91% of the teaching staff (the individuals most prominently on display as authority figures and leaders to the student body), are visibly white, only 3% are black, 3% are Asian, 3% are Latino, 0% are Oceanic and 0% Indigenous.

111/128 (~87%) overall staff are visibly white

61/67 (~91%) classroom teachers are visibly white

How can we not expect there to be students who do not feel properly represented by the culture of the school when there is such an imbalance in the diversity of its staff? How can 91% of classroom authority figures be visibly white and not expect that to translate to closed mindedness and discrimination? How can we expect our peers who come from minorities to not feel as though they have a lesser chance to contribute to the school in the future when 87% of the overall staffing is white?

I am hoping that you read this and realize that for change for happen on a large scale with regards to racism, it must start in the education system. St. Michael’s College School has the resources and freedom to change with much more haste than any public school. It is time to set an example and make reparations for our past. We ask you to sign this petition, bringing to attention the issues that need to be dealt with at St. Mike’s, along with the methods we demand from the school. Please do not think reactively to this demand, but rather in an aspirational manner. Something can always be improved upon and applying that philosophy to your surroundings is necessary to live a humble, just and fulfilling life.

We, a select group of St. Michael’s College School alumni and friends, demand that St. Michael’s College School takes action in the fight on racism in education. Our demands include that St. Michael’s College School will:

• Create accountability measures to ensure diversity requirements are satisfied in the future

• Increase the Teaching Diversity Gap (TDG)

• Set an example for other private schools and the provincial school board of Ontario by creating and adapting effective methods of educating students on racism and confronting racism in the education system

• Update the curriculum to set the bar for modern education on racism within the best of their ability

Regarding changes to curriculum: We recognize that certain curriculum guidelines are regulated by a separate entity.

Aligning with the Employment Equity Act issued by the government of Canada (1995), we do not expect from St. Michael’s College School:

- to hire or promote persons who do not meet the essential qualifications for the work to be performed

- to create new positions in its workforce

- to take a particular measure to implement employment equity where the taking of that measure would cause undue hardship to the employer

SMCS should be a place of inclusion, equal opportunity and mutual respect. Working towards equal representation in its staff is a place to begin. It is time for the institution to demonstrate a recognition of their lack of diversity and bring about change. It is the duty of those who have privilege to ensure that it is used for the better. It is time for the school to begin allowing for equal employment opportunity, equal representation of authority, and a diverse environment for students.

Tradition never graduates. Bringing about cultural and racial diversity will serve to ensure that the old adage rings true as we move forward to a better and more inclusive future, one in which any and all bright-minded young men can contribute to its goodness equally.