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To my classmates: one day, you will become amazing science teachers. I really mean that, even though a lot of people will say it to you. Being most of the way through this program, I knew I was a good teacher when I first came into the program, but I’ve also learned how much I understand social justice issues, and that’s not a skill everyone has.

I want to remind you what an important word the word “rapport” is in the fields we will be entering. I want to remind you that you have the power to be somebody’s hero, somebody’s role model, somebody’s only bright spot for their day. I want to remind you of the world we live in, and that the research being done in fields of education and sociology and psychology are highly funded because they are real issues. I want to remind you that there is rarely anything equal in society, and that the polarizing binaries that have been created amongst race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and disability have hindered our ability to reach equality – mindsets that should’ve died with the Victorian Era are still prevalent.

In light of recent events regarding a painfully mitigating decision with the Stanford Swimmer/Rapist, I want to remind you that unless you are a white, cis, at minimum moderately wealthy male, things are rarely equal or fair. I want to understand the social justice issues in whatever setting you end up teaching in, and I want you to be the voice of students who feel they have none. Remember that students learn science from mediocre teachers all day – it takes a special person, one both well reversed in content as well as social justice issues, to truly make an impact. I want you to remember — the next time you think that affirmative action is unfair to you, or the next time you think an unconscious female has no rights, or that people from urban backgrounds have less of a voice than those who supposedly are more cultured — people at highest risk for these crimes are your urban students. I want you to be a voice for them, so that they never have to feel alone. I want you to fight for their equality in representing their ideas. I want you never stop encouraging them to take charge of their voice – they are the future and the world is waiting for them to conquer.

I want you to make a safe space for your suburban students to talk about sexual assault, rape, and risks they will face in college. Your suburban students get minimal information for reasons different than your urban ones: the urban ones are carelessly warned about these topics with no real basis, while your suburban students are brainwashed to believe that sort of thing could never happen to them. 1 in 5 women in college are sexually assaulted, while 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college. Over 90% of cases of sexual assault go unreported. Tell your students this — both urban and suburban. Prepare your students for the unequal, unfair reality. Tell them that if this were a black male that had committed this crime, Stanford student or not, that that 20 year old would be behind bars significantly longer than 6 months.

I encourage you to read the letter of the victim of the Stanford rapist. It is a painful read as well as a lengthy one, but well worth the time. At the end of the reading, I’d really like you to reflect about how unequal of a society we live in.

The letter:


One Comment

  1. I too felt really impacted by this case. Such a frustrating outcome and such a powerful reminder of how messed up the system can be sometimes. Thanks for sharing. The letter is something that everyone should read.

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