PDS Upper School Students & Staff Call for Unity, Offer Resources

In the wake of increasing acts of violence against Asian Americans, the Princeton Day School Upper School gathered this morning to stand against racism, bias and violence, including gun violence. 

Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Anthony McKinley opened the discussion by assuring all members of the School community who identify as Asian or Asian American that PDS stands with them in support and that the School is committed to continuing education as allies in the fight for racial equality. Mr. McKinley, who last week had published a statement to the PDS community about the importance of standing together in the face of rising violence against Asian Americans, reiterated that he and the CMDT are available for support in advancing these efforts for anyone in the community.

Dean of Students Dr. Elizabeth Monroe echoed Mr. McKinley's sentiments. "Hate has no place in the Princeton Day School community. There are many people on campus to support you on your journey to educate yourself, beyond Mr. McKinley and the CMDT. We are all at the ready and are never too busy to listen, help you educate yourself or to provide the support that you need to feel safe within our community," she said.

Head of School Paul J. Stellato added, "What if we were to think of ourselves as members of every community? What if we thought of ourselves as members of every family? Indeed I think one of the reasons you're at Princeton Day School is because of the community. There should not be hidden or faceless communities here. All communities of the School should participate equally in one another's experience. If I regard you and you regard me as a part of your family and community, we will be fiercely protective of, generous towards and supportive of one another. We have to refuse to be driven apart by the acts we see, and the easiest way to do it is to see everyone's experience as our own experience. In our best moments, we do that and we are coming to do it more often. Let's continue to do it."

Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) affinity group co-heads Vinay Rao '21, Sanjana Paramesh '22 and Milan Shah '22 also shared a powerful message with the community:

"Over the last year throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a rise in violence towards the Asian Community. In this past year alone, there have been almost 4,000 violent anti-Asian hate crimes, including the deadly shooting in Atlanta where eight people died, of which six were from Asian descent. As APIDA Co-heads, we want to make it clear that there is no place for these actions at PDS or anywhere else. It is important to talk about these issues, educate ourselves on what is going on, and find a way to make sure that it does not continue.   

"Anti-Asian sentiment in this country is nothing new, and it is important to recognize that hate crimes against the Asian community have been occurring [in the USA] since the 1800s. Violence, harassment and micro-aggressions against Asians have become somewhat normalized in our society, and it is absolutely devastating to see our Asian brothers and sisters victimized in this manner. Moreover, to see Asian elders, those that cannot fight back and often will not fight back, being harassed and attacked makes this issue all the more prevalent. It is time to take a stand against anti-Asian hate, and for our non-Asian peers, now is the time to stand in solidarity with the Asian community.

"To our Asian community at PDS, we are here for you. We understand this is a difficult time for us. If you need any assistance at all, please reach out to us or the faculty advisors of APIDA, Dr. Candy Shah, Ms. Caroline Lee and Mr. Jason Park.

"To our PDS community, if you have any questions or want to talk to us about anti-Asian violence, please also feel free to reach out to us and we can send you resources or have a conversation with you. You don't have to identify as Asian to stand up and do what's right. We believe that everyone has an equal opportunity to be a part of the community we live and learn in and it's up to all of us to ensure that this is true to PDS and not just theory."

Allison Liang '22, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Spokesman student newspaper, also announced that the Spokesman is offering reporting and perspectives on anti-Asian sentiment and current violence across the nation.

"As Anti-Asian sentiment has skyrocketed during the pandemic, we believe that education plays an important role for the PDS student body," she explained, adding that the online Spokesman includes two articles written by student newspaper staff, one on the recent surge in hate crimes, the other offering a student perspective from an Asian-American in the PDS community. The online team also has recently introduced a "Dear Spokesman" column, a space for students who feel underrepresented to share their experiences.

Vinay Rao '21, Sanjana Paramesh '22, Milan Shah '22 and Alison Liang '22

Photo (L to R): APIDA affinity group co-heads Vinay Rao, Sanjana Paramesh and Milan Shah; Spokesman Co-Editor in Chief Allison Liang

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