Editorial: Our Response to Criticism of Anti-Racism


At UNISVerse we understand the harm that can be caused by sensational, one-sided reporting and hold ourselves to a higher standard of journalism. We have written a letter that reaffirms our beliefs as the student newspaper of the United Nations International School.


Dear UNIS Community,

In the wake of recent events, we as the UNISVerse editorial staff would like to reaffirm our support of diversity, equity, and inclusion at UNIS. While acknowledging that our student body is privileged to study in an environment of many cultures, one must also remember that we are not exempt from racism because of this. Regardless of income, ethnicity, gender, or political ideology, we believe that racial discrimination is prevalent in every aspect of society. We all have a basic responsibility to treat our peers as equals. Therefore, we can only move forward if structural change is made at every layer of society, and that change starts with us.
Last June, we interviewed a number of T4 Students with a series of questions on their experiences with law enforcement in New York City. These interviews showed a vast difference in responses based on race. Although to some of us, UNIS may feel like we live in a bubble of acceptance and privilege, that is certainly not the case for everyone. We remind the school of the egregious incident where a swastika was graffitied in a school bathroom last year. Over the summer, we were shocked and horrified while reading the stories of BIPOC students on the @BlackAtUnis Instagram account. When we came back from break, students came together to share a wide range of opinions and perspectives under the guidance of their teachers, parents, administrators, and members of the community. We applaud the members of the UNIS community who have come forward, and offer our deepest sympathies with those who were harmed by these racial aggressions. The Equity and Inclusion Board and The Black Student Union are both excellent examples of empowered UNIS students and alumni coming together to use their voices to inspire much-needed change to the environment and attitudes at school.
If members of the UNIS community are not comfortable with the anti-racist measures currently being taken by the administration, we suggest creating “safe spaces” where students and faculty express their opinions respectfully. The only way to make lasting, significant change is with cooperation from the entire UNIS community: students, teachers, staff, administration, alumni, and parents alike. With new education for students and diversity training for teachers (which has already begun this school year) all members of the UNIS community will have the opportunity to learn how to be actively anti-racist.
The mission of our school is to provide a diverse learning environment which inspires cross-cultural communication. We strive to create a more sustainable, peaceful, and compassionate world. In the IB program, the learner profile teaches us to be open-minded and caring, and thereby prepares us to be responsible adults that will instill positive changes in our society for future generations. With this in mind, we cannot simply ignore the struggles that many students face if our purpose is to make the world a better place.
The student-led initiatives founded over the summer strive to achieve these values. For example, the Equity and Inclusion Board focuses on “increasing the representation of racially marginalized groups within the UNIS community and its culture,” as stated in their website. Contrary to how some might perceive its name, the Black Student Union is, according to its club introduction video, “open to everyone…we believe in educating all students and giving them a chance to participate in creating a safe [space] for all Black students at UNIS.” Our missions can only be achieved if all members of the UNIS community work together.
We did not reach out to the UNIS administration to comment on this piece, however, our executive director, Dr. Dan Brenner, states our message precisely: “It is important for all facets of the UNIS community to engage in an honest dialogue on race and privilege to improve the character of our community. At UNIS, Black Lives Matter.”

The UNISVerse Editorial Staff