A group of concerned students, parents, and alumni at a prestigious school in Los Angeles are documenting what they claim is “the self-destruction of California’s most elite private school,” after the institution’s leadership rolled out extensive measures by which they intend to promote anti-racism.
Individuals associated with Harvard-Westlake School, a college preparatory school that the Los Angeles Times described as “the destination for many children of L.A.’s business and entertainment elite,” have been invited to anonymously “submit experiences about the intimidation and indoctrination students and faculty are being subjected to as the school obeys the demands of radicals,” according to the Woke at Harvard-Westlake Project.
The Project, the Instagram account of which is “wokeathw,” describes itself as “a rapidly growing coalition of parents, students, alums, and faculty with widely varied political and personal backgrounds who are deeply alarmed at how quickly Harvard-Westlake’s standards of rigor and academic excellence are being discarded in response to a campaign of accusation, denunciation, and demand by activists.”
Submissions to the account so far include recordings of a dean praising Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, the associate head of school endorsing The New York Times’ 1619 Project, and an email sent to 9th graders from a teacher informing her students that she uses the prefix “Mx.” and identifies as “a queer white womxn of European descent.”
Other images depict assignments about how “racism is the bedrock of the USA” and instructed to “annotate where ‘power’ and ‘privilege’ reside in the text” of “A Catcher in the Rye.” According to a statement from someone who said he was a Jewish student in the upper school, the mandatory presentation about Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour was particularly distressing:
As a Jewish student, I felt under attack by Harvard-Westlake. I spoke with friends who felt the same way, and were horrified and confused about why the school was promoting extremists and hate-peddlers. We are all afraid to speak out, because the school has made it clear that it is embracing radicalism and we are supposed to obey, not question. This mandatory presentation was introduced by the head of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Janine Hancock Jones. She either thinks anti-Semitism is fine, or she’s incapable of recognizing it, which is incredibly disturbing for someone in her role.
On June 24, amid the turmoil roiling the country after George Floyd’s death, the school’s leadership released a document titled “Anti-Racism At Harvard-Westlake School,” in which they explained that “the current national reckoning with systemic racism and injustice has led our community to its own self-examination, and it is clear that we still have a long way to go in our efforts to make our community as inclusive as it ought to be.”
After speaking to “students, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff,” they continued, it became evident to them that “Harvard-Westlake’s own practices have contributed, however unintentionally, to the racism and injustice that people of color have experienced at our school.” Self-described people of color comprise 55% of the student body, according to the school’s own data.
The document goes on to list across 18 pages the various ways in which the school, where annual tuition and fees approach $50,000, intends to promote “the active opposition to systemic racism through intentional actions, policies, or practices. This opposition must be present at the individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels.”
Actions taken span curriculum changes, increasing admissions and hiring diversity, requiring implicit bias training for faculty and staff, and banning the use of the N word school-wide, among other things.
The Woke At Harvard-Westlake Project claims such measures are “politicizing and racializing virtually every aspect of the school,” adding in part:
These changes are already tearing the social fabric of the school, with many students, faculty, and parents horrified at the replacement of education with demands for adherence to radical and cult-like new racial theories. (One HW class instructs students that “colorblindness” — not judging people by the color of their skin — is “not only disingenuous but dangerous.”)
While we understand the administration felt that “something” had to be done to address what it perceived as a “crisis,” we do not accept the notion that the changes being implemented will improve anything. In fact, they will sow division, alienation, grievance, and suspicion on campus.
Please join us as we raise awareness of what’s happening to our beloved institution. You are not alone, and you are not crazy for feeling that the changes being forced on you and your children are profoundly unwise.
Similar to the “wokeathw” account, an Instagram account called “blackathw,” which was created by members of the Class of 2019 on June 21, encouraged Harvard-Westlake students, faculty, and alumni of color to “speak your truth” with anonymous submissions. “Our goal is twofold: For one, we want to highlight just how pervasive racism is on our campus, despite our living in a ‘liberal bubble’. For another, we hope that reading one another’s stories can help you know that you’re not alone,” they said.
As of publishing, 31 posts on the account offer alleged anecdotes recounting times that students experienced discrimination, including an allegation of sexual assault.
“Harvard-Westlake has fostered bigotry for the entirety of its existence,” the account claims.
According to The Chronicle, the school’s online newspaper:
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Janine Jones said she anticipated the creation of Blackathw after students at private schools such as Campbell Hall, Brentwood School and Marlborough School founded similar accounts. Since Blackathw was created by alumni June 21, Jones said she has been reading the posts regularly.
“My initial reaction was pride,” Jones said. “I was really proud of the students who are a part of the class of 2019 who started the account because it takes a lot of courage to do something like that. It is not easy to be an African American student at Harvard-Westlake or at any school where you are not in the dominant racial culture.
Harvard-Westlake School did not respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment.
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