Staff report

On February 19, the Racial Alliance Committee (RAC), led by CVU students Katelyn Wong, Paige Thibault, Akuch Dau and Prince Yodishembo, presented the following proposal to the Champlain Valley School District (CVSD) board:

“We propose that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) flag will be raised at CVU in honor of Black History Month. We affirm that Black Lives Matter is a peaceful and empowering grassroots movement, advocating for racial justice and collective liberation. By raising the flag, we hope to make CVU a more inclusive and equitable environment, committed to making all members feel welcome and appreciated.”

“The racist and anti-Semitic hate speech found at CVU this past month is a clear indication that our school has a deeper problem than just ignorance or lack of awareness regarding race. Our curriculum and culture do not educate or advocate for racial equity nearly enough. Raising the Black Lives Matter flag, as a united school community, is a positive step our district can take to cause meaningful change and start necessary conversations. Raising the flag is a public declaration that, yes, the lives of our black students and community members of color do matter, and should be valued as such. ….
“CVU’s core principles are to respect ourselves, respect each other, and respect the place. That narrative would be incomplete without showing due respect and recognition to students of color, as diversity only strengthens our community. It is the job of CVU, and not just RAC, to start discussions, raise awareness, and lead by example in dismantling hate and implicit bias. Now, more than ever, we must rise up from unfortunate events to tackle issues head on, with not only words, but with actions. This is why we should raise the flag.”

On March 19, CVSD voted 11-1 to approve flying the Black Lives Matter flag for 30 days. Two days later, on March 21, RAC sent a message to all CVU students and faculty, saying,

“Flying the flag is a catalyst for desperately needed dialogue, a statement of solidarity, and a commitment to equitable change. We affirm that Black Lives Matter is a peaceful and empowering grassroots movement, advocating for justice and collective liberation. By supporting and standing by Black Lives Matter as a school community, we are taking a proactive stance against bias, ignorance, and hate.”

On Thursday, April 4, at 9:30 a.m. the BLM flag will be raised on a second flagpole outside CVU, where it will fly for 30 days.