for the week of September 21, 2020.
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Last week I watched the highly acclaimed documentary The Social Dilemma on Netflix. Former technology executives and engineers came forward to explain the algorithms used by search engines and social networks. There were too many “Ah ha!” moments to list, and I highly recommend you and your family watch it. My 15-year-old son will be not-so-pleased to hear that we will be watching it in the coming weeks. Social media can be a dangerous place. It’s easy to forget that the people on the other side of the screen are real human beings, and what we post can have real consequences.
As a Sinsinawa Dominican Institution, Trinity encourages life-long learning and teaches critical thinking. There are few things more advantageous to learning than the free expression of differing opinions. Justice Ginsberg – a life-long close personal friend of Antonin Scalia – lived this in her own life, and as empowered women, striving to make an impact on the family, church and society in the 21st century, we emulate her example of reasoned, collegial, free exchange of opinions.
We cannot and will not tell any young woman that having, or expressing, her personal views is not allowed. We encourage our students to exercise their First Amendment rights and engage in the political process. This is why we have supported student protests and invite the League of Women Voters to hold a voter registration drive on campus. Doing otherwise would be directly contrary to our Mission of educating self-reliant, individual, and critical thinking young women.
The coming election is likely to leave hard feelings on all sides, regardless of the outcome. Students are part of the culture, and our culture is encouraging statements of strong support for each side and (more unfortunately) statements of derision against “the other.” This kind of personal attack for opposing viewpoints removes the very humanity of individuals and replaces it with stereotypes. Never in human history has dehumanizing people led to positive change. Here, they are free to express themselves (politely, constructively), but must be open to other views if we are to create real, lasting, global change. While political views of all sorts are encouraged at Trinity, name-calling and stereotypes will not be tolerated. We do not regulate the thoughts and opinions of our students, but we most certainly do mandate and enforce a code of conduct that includes treating one another with respect, no exceptions.
If you have not yet done so, speak with your children about the current socio-political climate. Encourage them to deliberately seek out information on “the other side,” as social media increasingly pushes us all into an echo chamber that only divides society further (as explained in The Social Dilemma). Above all else, teach them to think for themselves, as we are trying to do, so that they are purposeful and bold once they leave Trinity as empowered women.
Blessings to you all for a wonderful week ahead!