Students Stage Sit-In in Deans’ Wing

On Monday, April 29, students held a sit-in in the Deans’ Wing to encourage the administration to respond to student concerns about support in the wake of hate incidents, both within the community and in the outside world. Students remained silent in the Deans’ Wing until the Administration agreed to work with the students to devise a response plan and offer additional training for students leaders.

The sit-in was organized by the members of Hillel, with support from the heads of the Gender & Sexualities  Alliance (GSA) and Black and Hispanic Student Association (BaHSA). Students asked for the development postvention plan  that could be used in response to events such as the discovery of swastikas on classroom chairs in February, but also by the multitude of anti-Semitic hate crimes occurring around the world. The organizers of the event aimed to solicit a response while simultaneously ensuring that the school day was not disrupted.

The sit-in resulted in the drafting of a response protocol and numerous follow-up meetings to ensure that student concerns continue to be met. Additionally, a petition of support hung outside of the Deans’ Wing obtained over 300 signatures from students who chose not to miss class. After attending the sit-in, Arabella Katz ’20 said “As a part of the Jewish community at Hotchkiss, I felt as though the Administration had not [adequately] addressed horrible things that affect many students in their daily life. I joined the sit-in to speak up so that other students in the future would feel seen and supported by the adults in this community.”

The protocol for supporting affected community members when future “dramatic” incidents take place has been drafted by Dr. Arthur Gibb, Dr. Rachel Myers, and Dr. Elizabeth Droz. Currently, the draft details six different steps that direct students and community members in ways they can receive support. This process begins with contacting the Dean on Duty to inform them of an incident that affects community members. The Dean on Duty will then determine which other Deans and members of the Administration should be contacted to best address the specific situation. From there, administrators can follow various paths, ranging from the Dean of Students or Dean of Community Life contacting affected students directly, to the Director of Diversity & Inclusion organizing a meeting between student leaders of relevant groups to promote discussion among the student body. At this point, a letter notifying the entire community of the incident will be sent by email. If additional response is still required, the administration will organize a community discussion for those affected to voice concerns and support one another.

All faculty were given the opportunity to review the initial draft and suggest adjustments to the protocol that would increase support for students. After remarking that the sit-in was ultimately a success, Gill Duquette, head of the Council on Diversity and Inclusion and GSA, said, “Doing a sit-in, you learn that you do have a voice.”