Dear MSMS Family and Friends:

It is with deep sadness we find ourselves in the current situation that causes us to reflect on the unjust treatment of humanity, in particular African Americans.  The recent events in our nation’s history have revealed the hurt, anger, and pain that many people have harbored for a long time. As an African American male, I feel the pain of so many who are speaking out because I have personally experienced racism.  I have heard many statements throughout my life from organizations expressing their concerns about racism, but nothing changed.  My hope is these events have caused individuals, organizations, and companies to reflect on the policies and practices that lead to alleviating racism.  I am always focused on actions that organizations or individuals take to address issues of racism rather than just statements that may not lead to real change.    

Considering needed actions for our school is exactly what the leaders at MSMS have been focused on.  We discussed at the beginning of last week whether or not to release a statement, but I chose not to make a statement at that time.  However, after meeting with a few recent alumni and current students late last week, it became clear that a statement on behalf of the school was important to them as black students.  Our student leaders of the Senior Class and the Black Student Alliance (BSA) have both released statements, and we fully support their advocacy for change.  

To be clear, MSMS faculty and staff have a long history of showing respect for diversity.  This is something I have heard over and over again from our alumni.  In addition, as stated in our mission, the school is focused on “providing leadership development” with the hope that our graduates will serve as the future leaders of this state.  Our students speaking out is one of the ways they are choosing to lead, and the school will continue to support their efforts.  At the same time, school leaders will continue discussions about how we address the issue of race on our campus.    

First, we want to learn more about the experiences of current students or recent graduates who are black.  Being black and enrolling at one of the top schools in the nation has its own unique challenges, as was emphasized with the discussion we had with the students last week.  Second, we will be more intentional about professional development for employees that addresses race.  We cannot afford to make assumptions that everyone is aware of the specific challenges that black students face.  Finally, we will work with our student leaders to institute creative ways to discuss the impact of race in our society and the school. MSMS welcomes a conversation that allows every person to have a voice. We welcome a community of individuals who hear one another. We welcome people who are ready to struggle with the tough questions of our culture.

Each year we welcome students from all corners of the state who come from many different backgrounds, including race. Our students come together, live and learn together, and grow in community and character together. MSMS students are not immune to the tensions and injustices of the world, but they do find support, tolerance, and acceptance here. Some of our population find the acceptance they’ve always looked for, while others learn to accept diversity that is new to them.

To our MSMS community – students, parents, employees – past, present, and future, we want to say:

We see you.

We value you.

We stand with you.

At MSMS, we are committed to learning, growing, and changing together until there is justice for all.

With love and hope,

Germain McConnell

Ph.D. Executive Director